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Living In New York City: Pollution's Effect on Your Skin

Smoke stacks emitting fumes

SINY Dermatology began as a lone office in the residential neighborhood of Bay Ridge, Brooklyn more than half a century ago. Since then, news of our world-class dermatologists, patient-friendly support staff, and pleasant office environment went viral, so to speak, long before the phrase became popular.

Over time, our flagship office in Bay Ridge could no longer accommodate everyone who needed us, and the practice added convenient locations in Manhattan, Queens, and Long Island. We continue to maintain the comfortable, courteous, and respectful doctor-patient relationship for which we became so well known so many decades ago.

In addition to our expertise in medical/surgical diagnosis and treatment, our cosmetic dermatologists have long been aware of the damage done by the sun and airborne pollutants such as cigarette smoke, ozone, automobile emissions, chemicals, and many other unseen culprits, all of which have the potential to harm and prematurely age your skin. 

Even if you don’t see the inflammatory changes, you can be sure that they exist in the lower layers of the skin, and across time they will eventually appear in your mirror. 

Some common symptoms of sun and pollution-damaged skin include, but are not limited to: minute cracks, redness, dryness, a feeling of tightness, roughness, stinging, or burning, especially when applying various products to the skin, rashes, and increased breakouts. 

The experts at SINY Dermatology suggest that the following tips to your daily routine should go a long way in counteracting and possibly even preventing further damage.

Reduce Exposure to Pollutants

To reduce overexposure to the sun and outdoor pollution use a good quality sunscreen product all year round, winter and summer. Create a barrier between your face and bitterly cold winds and unseen airborne pollutants with a soft cotton, flannel, jersey, or silk scarf. 

Wear gloves to protect your hands. Wash your face with a mild, preferably hypogenic cleanser that does not contain alcohol. Alcohol is a harsh substance that will irritate your skin, substantially reduce the number of healthy oils, and inhibit your skin’s ability to refresh and regenerate itself. Or, use a good quality, all-natural moisturizing bar soap, one that does not contain any harsh ingredients like artificial fragrance, parabens, sodium sulfate, or triclosan. Wash twice a day, morning and night, and be mindful that one minute is generally enough time to properly cleanse your skin. Be sure to rinse every trace of soap from your face, then gently pat dry with a soft towel. 

Take care to avoid exfoliants and scrubs. Indoor heat, whether electric or steam, can make things worse and rapidly transform dry skin into cracking, bleeding skin. If steam dries the air in your home, consider using a humidifier. It will help your skin stay supple and well-hydrated. Pollutants like cigarette smoke, ozone, car emissions, and microscopic chemical particles flying around in the air can all cause damage to your skin. Prolonged exposure can cause problems such as eczema, acne, psoriasis, and even some skin cancers so it is important to keep your skin clean, hydrated, moisturized, and protected from winter wind, weather, and the harmful rays of the sun.

Stop Smoking

If you don’t smoke, don’t start and if you do smoke, stop! 

Nowadays, people are more knowledgeable about the serious health risks yet there are still far too many people who smoke on a daily basis. 

Cigarette smoking kills more than 8 million people a year including smokers and non-smokers who are routinely exposed to secondhand smoke. 

Spend time with people who don’t smoke, learn to meditate, and take advantage of the many free apps and other assistive devices that can help you through the more difficult first days. Be patient with yourself and be committed to the process, your skin will look and smell fresher and more youthful, and you will have removed a major obstacle to good health.

Keep Your Home Pollutant-Free

Many cleaning products, particularly the stronger ones that can cause respiratory problems as well as other unpleasant side effects. Keep your home well-ventilated, and make an effort to use natural or non-toxic household cleaners. If you have pets, be sure they are brushed and bathed appropriately to reduce dander and other allergens.

When the damage has already been done, prevention may no longer be helpful. When that happens our board-certified dermatologists have a variety of effective, painless treatments that can often reverse existing damage and reduce or even prevent it from happening in the future. For example:

IPL Laser

IPL Laser Treatments can arrest the accelerated aging of your skin with a painless process that stimulates the body’s natural production of collagen. The regimen repairs and rejuvenates the skin and it typically includes 4-6 treatments done at 3-6 week intervals. 

Each treatment takes about 20 minutes and is supremely effective on the face, neck, chest, and hands. It can be several weeks before you notice improvement but not to worry, the natural beauty of the skin is well worth the wait! Our dermatologists will meet with you and determine if this treatment is the one that will provide you with optimal results.

Dermal Fillers

Dermal fillers such as Restylane, Juvederm, Belotero, and Radiesse can gently pulp the facial skin to restore natural, youthful volume and reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines. 


Neurotoxins such as Botox, Dysport, and Xeomin calm the muscles and give your skin a relaxed, naturally younger appearance. Neurotoxins are exquisitely effective in treating wrinkles on the forehead, the “eleven lines” between the eyebrows, indentation lines on the sides of your nose, and “crows feet” wrinkles and around the eyes.

Plasma Fibroblast Therapy

Plasma fibroblast therapy is a non-invasive treatment that can remove the appearance of unwanted wrinkles, stretch marks, and in some cases even scarring. Optimal results are typically seen within about 3 months of treatment and can last for 3 years.

Now, in the 21st century, when civilians can board a rocket ship and journey into space, there is no need to settle for aging skin. 

At SINY Dermatology, we have a variety of safe and simple ways to restore the youthful feel and appearance of your skin. Please come in and consult with our experts to find out which treatment is best for you. Please call us at 800-778-3090 or schedule an appointment online at sinyderm.com. 

We look forward to seeing you soon!


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