Anti-Pollution Matrix EN – Damage – Clinical – Gray / pale skin

Anti-Pollution Matrix

Gray / pale skin

Anti-Pollution Matrix > Damage > Clinical > Gray / pale skin


In general, gray or sallow skin is not a clearly defined term, but a subjective finding that is perceived differently depending on the skin type. Fine particles from the air can be deposited on the skin, which can change the complexion of the skin (dull skin) [1, 2]. The age-related formation of glycation end products (AGEs) and lipofuscin, can alter skin tone and make it appear sallow. AGEs are formed by oxidative stress in the skin. Age-related accumulation of chromophores such as melanin can also lead to changes in skin tone.


Effects on the skin

Gray or pale skin is an aging-related phenomenon. It is a result of cell and tissue damage caused by exposure of the skin to sunlight, air pollution or similar. Gray or sallow skin can be an aesthetic problem. In a study of Chinese subjects, it was shown that subjects living in more polluted air had negatively affected skin color than subjects living in a region with less polluted air [3]. Further, it was found that indexing of the aryl hydrocarbon receptor by pollution led to activation of the enzyme tyrosinase. Tyrosinase is essential for the synthesis of melanin in the skin, which is why pollution can lead to altered skin color via this pathway [4].



An increased concentration of air pollutants etc. should be avoided if possible in order to counteract the development of oxidative stress/free radicals. Skin cleansing and film-forming protective creams, as well as active ingredient creams with antioxidants, for example, are also helpful. For immediate effects, to refresh the skin tone, decorative cosmetics can also be used.


Impact detection methods

A melanin meter can be used to determine melanin density in skin (in vivo/ ex vivo) [5].

Hyperspectral imaging can also be used to determine the melanin content in tissue in vivo.

Histological examinations can be used to investigate melanin content in skin explants, and quantification of melanin content from cellular/and or skin lysates can be performed using fluorescence. Masson-Fontana staining or Warthin-Starry staining can be used for this purpose.

Glycation end products can be determined in the skin using non-invasive measurement techniques.

Further, imaging techniques or those that can be used to determine skin color, such as chromameter, can be useful.

Free radicals provide the basis for downstream physiological responses, so electron spin resonance (ESR) spectroscopy can also be used as an effective detection method in tissues to assess the effect of exogenous/endogenous factors on radical induction.



[1] I.D. Stephen, V. Coetzee, M. Law Smith, D.I. Perrett, Skin blood perfusion and oxygenation colour affect perceived human health, PLoS One, 4 (2009) e5083,
[2] J.P. Ortonne, Normal and abnormal skin color, Ann Dermatol Venereol, 139 Suppl 4 (2012) S125-129, DOI: 10.1016/S0151-9638(08)70071-1
[3] A. Nkengne, J. Robic, B. L. Lua. The effect of air pollution on the skin colour and tone of Chinese women: A multicentre cohort study. Skin Res Technol, (2021) 27(3):428-434. DOI: 10.1111/srt.12953
[4] S. Luecke, M. Backlund, B. Jux, C. Esser, J. Krutmann, A. Rannung. The aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR), a novel regulator of human melanogenesis. Pigment Cell Melanoma Res. (2010) 23:828–833. DOI: 10.1111/j.1755-148X.2010.00762.x
[5] T. Dwyer, H. K. Muller, L. Blizzard, R. Ashbolt, G. Phillips, The use of spectrophotometry to estimate melanin density in Caucasians. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 1998 Mar;7(3):203-6.