The Met Office recently issued a warning over high levels of pollen across the UK, predicting counts to reach the forecaster’s top ranking of ‘very high’.
And while many people are familiar with the more common symptoms caused by pollen, such as sneezing, runny nose and itchy eyes, it can actually have a huge impact on skin, too.
How does pollen affect the skin?
Leading aesthetics expert Nina Prisk of Update Aesthetics explains: “Pollen, like pollution and chemicals, has the power to attack cells. Exposure to pollen over repeated or prolonged periods of time can have a huge impact on skin health and appearance.
“It can cause skin to appear dull and also cause inflammation, dryness and itching. As a result, skin can become red and sore, and the skin barrier can become compromised.”
“This prompts the release of histamine, which leads to symptoms like sneezing, itchy eyes, and sometimes, breathing difficulties.
“But, that reaction inside your body can affect your skin, too, even if you didn’t actually touch something that you’re allergic to,” explains Friedman. “In fact, skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis, and hives are likely to flare up right when your allergies do, as they are connected to the immune system.”
And for those taking collagen supplements to boost skin, you might want to take note. “It’s also believed that pollen can negatively impact collagen production,” explains Prisk. “Because collagen is the protein that gives skin its elasticity and strength if collagen production is restricted then the skin can appear less plump and voluminous, meaning lines and wrinkles are more obvious.”
How to protect skin against pollen damage
“Although antihistamines can reduce the sensation of itch, topical treatments are usually needed also,” shares consultant dermatologist Dr Justine Hextall.
“The more the skin is scratched, the itchier the skin becomes as scratching tends to release more histamine. It’s therefore important to adapt your skincare regime too, to calm the skin and reduce ongoing irritation and itching.”
“Antioxidants can be an effective way of protecting skin from damage caused by pollen,” explains Nina.
Vitamin C is one of the most powerful antioxidants in the skin which has an anti-aging effect due to its ability to increase collagen synthesis. Skinceuticals C E Ferulic Vitamin C Antioxidant Serum is an extremely effective way of delivering vitamin C to the skin in order to provide environmental protection, help to prevent free radical damage and improve the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles and loss of firmness. It also brightens the skin.
Focus on hydration
Hyaluronic acid is key to keeping skin hydrated and also for skin repair and wound healing.
Because pollen can cause the skin to become dry, itchy and inflamed, products containing hyaluronic acid can be a good way to address this and maintain a healthy skin barrier.
It’s often used in skincare products such as moisturising creams, serums and lotions. For example, Skinceuticals HA Intensifier Serum, which contains a unique formulation of high concentration pure hyaluronic acid, proxylane and botanical extracts to support skin’s hyaluronic acid levels and deliver hydration.
Look after your eyes
Rubbing and scratching at itchy hayfever-stricken eyes can cause a lot of redness and irritation. Switch to sensitive, hydrating micellar water for eye makeup removal, and try some eye drops if your eyes are bothering you throughout the day.