How can pollution affect your skin?

UV rays and pollution play a huge role in affecting our planet as well as our skin. While we’re doing our bit to help our planet, we can also help you protect your skin from the effects of pollution and daily environmental aggressors. Check out our top tips and expert insights to help you get your glow back.

Our leading expert

We caught up with Kasia Tate, Global Head of Research & Development in Skincare and Makeup for The Body Shop, to talk through the complex world of pollution, environmental aggressors and the impact they have on our skin.

After obtaining an MSc in Organic Chemistry & Engineering from Krakow’s University of Technology, Kasia has developed skincare and makeup formulations for the past 17 years.

Below, she gives us an insight into how we can help protect our skin from the effects of pollution and daily environmental aggressors. She also shows us the routines and products she loves to help keep her skin feeling fresh, protected and healthy.

The different types of environmental aggressors

There are many different types of aggressors that can affect our skin. Here, we get the lowdown on air pollution, UV rays, and all the ways they can affect our skin. We’ve also got tips and tricks from Kasia Tate on how to help protect our skin from these daily aggressors. We hope you’ve got your learning hat on…

Close up shot of woman's skin

What is air pollution?

Put simply, air pollution is a collection of particles and gasses that fill the air around us, both indoors and outdoors.1 Invisible to the eye, pollution is caused by many different things like industrial smog, gasses, smoke and even change in weather. And when at a high level, it’s not only harmful for the planet but for our skin too.

What are the effects of pollution on the skin?

City goers listen up! Many types of pollutants are known to cause oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is the term for when there’s an imbalance of free radicals and antioxidants on the skin. This can lead to common skin problems such as:

Dryness & sensitivity

Free radicals are unstable molecules that have the ability to oxidize precious squalene within the skin’s protective barrier. This means your skin loses its ability to retain moisture, resulting in dryness and sensitivity.2

Premature skin ageing

The same oxidative stress can cause the skin to lose its elasticity and firmness which is your skin’s ‘plumpness’. This can then lead to premature ageing like fine lines and wrinkles.3


With squalene oxidized, your skin’s natural protective barrier is down. This doesn’t help when dirt, grime and oil accumulate on the skin, clogging up your pores and leading to blemishes forming.4


How to help protect skin from pollution

Hands pumping The Body Shop Drops Of Youth Liquid Peel

Drops of Youth™ Youth Liquid Peel

Helping to gently lift impurities and dead cells alike, our Drops of Youth™ Youth Liquid Peel is a bit of a wildcard in your skincare arsenal. Massage it into skin and watch as it creates amazing noodles that help remove the things you don’t want on skin. As you massage it causes exfoliation that helps to peel off the day’s build-up of dirt, impurities, pollution particles and even fine dust particles. Skin is left feeling renewed.

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Drops of Youth concentrate against rocky background

Drops of Youth™ Concentrate

Our famous Concentrate is a light serum that leaves the skin feeling smooth and replenished with moisture. Better yet, it helps protect the skin from pollution by forming a somewhat invisible veil on the skin. Bottled with 99% ingredients of natural origin, all it takes is a couple of drops morning and night for that healthy-looking glow.

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Drops of Youth Jelly Mist being sprayed


Our Drops of Youth™ Bouncy Jelly Mist is at your service. Just spritz this light, gel-to-mist formula to help protect skin from the effects of daily environmental aggressors, including pollution.*

Made with 96% ingredients of natural origin, including edelweiss stem cells which are known for being rich in antioxidants. Our Mist leaves the skin looking naturally glowing and with its fresh look restored. It also delivers 24hr hydration, helping to maintain skin’s moisture levels.

What are uva & uvb rays?

UVA and UVB rays are ultraviolet rays that carry radiation from the sun to the earth. Though they’re not classed as a type of pollution, they can still have a negative impact on the skin. And although the two types come from the same sunny source, they actually have some key differences…

To start, UVA is around 95% of the sun’s UV rays whereas UVB is around 5%. UVA affects the inner skin cells in the top layer of the skin, including dermis. UVB, on the other hand, affects skin cells in the top layer of the skin. When it comes to getting a golden tan, we tan immediately under UVA rays but burn when we’re not careful. With UVB rays, there’s a delay in tanning, sunburn and blistering (but we still have to be super careful). The long-term effects are not too dissimilar, with both UVA and UVB rays often premature skin ageing and some skin cancers are common.

What effects do uva & uvb rays have on skin?

Dark spots

One of the most common causes of dark spots is said to be from spending too much time in the sun, either when it’s at its hottest (around midday) or for lengthy periods of time. (That explains why mom is always telling us to not stay in the sun for too long.)

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Hyperpigmentation comes in the form of speckles, freckles and sometimes blemishes on the skin. If you’re experiencing new speckles, it could be from overexposure to UV. Luckily, we have tips for reducing the appearance of hyperpigmentation.

Read more

Premature ageing

Like pollution, UV rays can weaken your skin’s natural moisture barrier, leading to dryness and premature skin ageing. Though ageing is natural (you know we love to celebrate it), it’s still important to keep skin protected and looking healthy.

Read more
Model applying white skincare product to face

How to help protect skin from uva & uvb rays

It’s not a myth – daily SPF is the best way to protect your skin from UV rays. (If you fancy learning a little more on the subject, feel free to read up on how to help protect your skin from the sun.)

One way to do this is to always apply SPF on top of your moisturizer. Our Vitamin C Glow Protext Lotion SPF 30 is our best protection ever. It combines moisture with high SPF and a radiant finish.

“A good protective routine doesn’t have to be a chore. I’m a single mum with a very busy schedule yet there are steps I follow every day.”

– Kasia Tate, Global Head of Research & Development in Skincare and Makeup at The Body Shop

Model holding Drops of Youth Peel Off Mask and applying to face

Kasia’s ultimate pollution protecting routine

Tea Tree Skin Clearing Facial Wash covered in soapy suds. The product is placed on a green bathroom sink in front of a white tiled backdrop

Step 1: Cleanse

Start your routine with our Tea Tree Skin Clearing Facial Wash. It works hard to wash away excess oil and grime so you can enjoy that squeaky-clean feeling every time.

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Drops of Youth Liquid Peel

Step 2: exfoliate

Dirt, dust and grime don’t stand a chance with our Drops of Youth™ Liquid Peel. Use 2-3 times a week to gently peel away impurities and pollutants for feel-good smoothness.

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Face mask brush being dipped into Japanese Match Tea Pollution Clearing Mask

Step 3: mask

Take a moment of calm 2-3 times a week with our Japanese Matcha Tea Pollution Clearing Mask. It gently exfoliates the skin, leaving it feeling refreshed and purified.

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Drops of Youth Concentrate on white tile surface

Step 4: hydrate

Apply our Drops of Youth™ Concentrate morning and night to help smooth things over and help protect your skin from indoor and outdoor pollution. All it takes is a couple of drops.

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Vitamin C Glow Protect Lotion

Step 5: protect

Always wear protection. Our Vitamin C Glow Protect Lotion SPF30 is our best protection ever. It combines moisture with high SPF and a radiant finish.

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Drops of Youth Bouncy Jelly Mist being sprayed by a models hand

Step 6: on-the-go

Spritz our Drops of Youth™ Bouncy Jelly Mist while you’re out and about to help protect from the effects of pollution.* Now that’s what we call handy.

Coming soon

*Our mist does not provide sun protection.


2 J.Krutmann, Wwi Liu, Li Li, Xiaochuan Pan, M.Crawford, G.Sore, S. Seite. Pollution and skin: From epidemiological and mechanical studies to clinical implications. J of Dermatological Science 76(2014)163-168.

3 M.E. Darvin, J.W. Fluhr, M.C.Meinke, L. Zastrow, W.Sterry. J. Lademann. Topical beta-carotene protects against infra-red-light induced free radicals. Royal College of Physicians 2011, volume 2, Issue 2.

4 D.-M.Pham, B.Boussouira, D.Moyal, Q.I.Nguyen. Oxidization of squalene, a human skin lipid: a new and reliable marker of environmental pollution studies. J of Cosmetic Science 2015, 37. 357-365.