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What Is Smog? The Effects of Pollution on Your Skin

What Is Smog? The Effects of Pollution on Your Skin

If you’ve ever seen smog settling over a big city, you may have wondered “what is smog made of that makes it look like that?” Or perhaps you’ve questioned what the effects of smog are on your health and skin. In this post, we’re going to take a look at the link between air pollution and skin, specifically how it affects the skin.

What Is Smog Made Out Of?

The term smog was originally a combination of the words smoke and fog. It was a name given to these clouds of pollution before we truly understood what they were made out of. Now that we understand that smog is physical, visible air pollution, smog is even scarier than it was before.


Much of the cloud of smog is fog, a cloud of moisture that falls low to the ground, making visibility difficult. Fog, in and of itself, is not dangerous (except for the fact that it reduces visibility). However, when pollutants, as you’ll see below, get trapped in the fog, it can be detrimental to our health – and our skin.


Another major component of smog is dust, harmless particles of dirt and debris that get caught in the water droplets that make up the smog. This portion of smog contributes to the hazy, brownish look that is visible both from a distance and within the cloud of smog.


Pollutants, like volatile organic compounds (VOCs), ozone, nitrogen oxides, and more get stuck in the cloud of smog and react with sunlight to produce a hazy, brownish or grayish cloud. This cloud-like soup of water droplets, dust, and pollutants – as you might expect – is dangerous to human health and our skin.

Where Is Smog Most Likely?

Since smog is reliant upon a few factors to form (still air, sunny, and high pollution), smog tends to form most often in big cities. Big cities that are in valleys or in areas where airflow is minimal see the most smog, especially on sunny days.

What Are the Effects of Smog?

We may only understand some of the long-term effects of smog on human health, and the ones we do know about are concerning. Smog can cause chronic bronchitis, severe asthma, emphysema, COPD, and even lung cancer. Other concerns include decreased natural immunity, eye irritation, increased lung aging, predisposition to heart attacks, and much more. Furthermore, the pollutants within smog are damaging to our skin.

Is There a Connection Between Air Pollution and Skin Health?


The skin is our body’s first line of defense against harmful solid substances. According to this review paper, “repetitive exposure to high levels of these pollutants may have profound negative effects on the skin.” Furthermore, hydrocarbons in smog contribute to premature and accelerated skin aging (due to a breakdown in the skin’s structural components), excessive pigmentation (age spots), increased acne, and even skin cancer. The VOCs in smog have even been linked to increased rates of eczema in smog-prone cities.

What Can I Do About It?

Since pollution isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, we need controllable strategies to manage and avoid the adverse effects of pollution on our bodies. As we see in cities like Shanghai, China, and Delhi, India, using protective masks and limiting time outdoors during high-smog days is the best way to stay safe. However, staying inside isn’t always possible, and protective masks do not protect your skin.

Anti-Pollution Cleansers

If you’re looking for a way to clear pollutants from your skin and prevent some of these premature aging issues, anti-pollution cleansers are a great solution. Our Anti-Pollution Facial Cleanser uses exopolysaccharide (Exo-P™) to form a mesh on your skin and pull pollutants and particulate matter out of your skin’s pores. 

Rejuvaskin’s Anti-Pollution Facial Cleanser can be paired with our NEW Mineral Facial Sunscreen to help protect your skin from harmful UV damage and our Skin Recovery Cream if pollution is causing eczema symptoms for you!