Anti-Pollution Matrix EN – Pollutants – Pollutant list – Particulate Matter

Anti-Pollution Matrix

Particulate Matter

Anti-Pollution Matrix > Pollutants > Pollutant list > Particulate Matter


The skin, as the primary barrier between the environment and the body, is exposed to particulate matter (PM) on a daily basis. Particulate matter consists of small particles that are divided into so-called PM0.1, PM2.5 and PM10. The nomenclature refers to its size of 0.1 μm (ultra fine particles), 2.5 μm (fine particles) and 2.5-10 μm (crude particles). Fine dust particles are solid and liquid suspended solids that are suspended in the air. They come from vehicle exhaust fumes, industrial emissions, combustion of biomass and fossil fuels (e.g. soot), smoking, waste incineration, forest fires or road dust, to name but a few [1]. Depending on the weather, particulate matter accumulates in the atmosphere and forms the so-called smog. Particulate matter is often loaded with toxic compounds, such as metals, polychlorinated biphenyls or polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). An example of this is benzo[a]pyrene. Pollen and sand in the above size can also be counted as particulate matter.


Effects on the skin

It has long been known that particulate matter has negative effects on the lungs, as the particles are inhaled and can lead to disease and increased mortality. For a few years now, the effect of particulate matter on the skin has also been investigated. Fine dust particles and the pollutants adhering to them are known to trigger oxidative stress through the formation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and the secretion of pro-inflammatory cytokines. Oxidative stress also leads to oxidation of skin lipids and proteins, which can lead to blemishes. The ROS superoxide and hydroxyl radical lead to the induction of matrix metalloproteases, which leads to the degradation of the extracellular matrix, in particular collagen and elastin fibers. These are molecular causes of wrinkles and decreased skin elasticity. Particulate matter correlates with a reduced barrier function of the skin. Another skin aging feature induced by particulate matter is pigment spots (age spots), lentigines and an uneven skin tone. [2, 3]



Since fine dust particles are primarily on the skin, skin cleansing, such as washing or exfoliating, is a good measure. Furthermore, suitable film-forming applications that prevent the skin from coming into contact with the fine dust or facilitate the removal of the fine dust are possible interventions. Since a good skin barrier is important to prevent the penetration of particulate matter into the skin, barrier-strengthening and moisturizing applications can be effective. Molecularly, suitable ingredients such as antioxidants can protect the skin from oxidative stress. Skin-soothing substances can also help the skin protect itself against the effects of particulate matter.


Impact detection methods

In principle, methods such as imaging methods (e.g. VISIA CR or ColorFace) and color measurement methods such as chromameters are suitable. Often used devices are e.g. Primos, AEVA-HE and Cutometer. Furthermore, the transepidermal water loss (TEWL) or the skin moisture can be measured by means of a corneometer. Measurements of oxidized lipids (malondialdehyde, squalene monohydroperoxide) and proteins after extraction by, for example, GC-MS and LC-MS are also suitable. Free radicals can be measured in vitro and in vivo, for example with ESR spectroscopy or other suitable methods. Washing-up or adhesion efficiency can also be demonstrated by imaging techniques.



[1] E. Araviiskaia et al. The impact of airborne pollution on skin, JEADV (2019) 10.1111/jdv.15583,
[2] Schikowski, T. & Krutmann, J. Luftverschmutzung (Feinstaub, Stickstoffdioxid) und Hautalterung, Hautarzt (2019) 70:158-162,
[3] Kim et al. Air pollution and skin diseases: Adverse effects of airborne particulate matter on various skin diseases, Life Sciences (2016) 152:126–134,