This is what the return to the commute is actually doing to your skin

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Chloe Burcham
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pollution skincare

If your back-to-work commute is wreaking havoc on your skin, you’re not alone. Below, three of the UK’s top skin experts reveal how the daily commute is affecting our skin – plus how to combat signs of dullness, dehydration and pollution-induced pimples. 

With life slowly returning to normal again, you might find yourself back on the daily commute. While working in an office has many benefits (hello actual IRL human colleagues) the daily commute to and from your place of work might be having an effect on your skin. 

From breakouts to dullness – we asked some of the UK’s top dermatologists and skin experts what effect commuting and public transport can have on our skin – plus the ways you can protect, prevent and manage any symptoms that come with it.  

Keep scrolling to find out what effects pollution has on your skin, plus the dermatologist-approved back-to-work skincare kit to protect and prevent your skin while commuting.

How does commuting affect skin?

“Returning to work and life back within a community has meant more exposure to pollution on a daily basis,” explains Dr Ifeoma Ejikeme, founder and medical director of award-winning Adonia Medical Clinic.

“Daily pollution on the skin increases the risk of free radical damage. When left unchecked free radicals can increase redness and skin sensitivity, blemishes and even fine lines.” Been skipping your morning skincare routine? You’re not the only one. Dr Ejikeme says many of her patients now feel that they have less time in the morning – so haven’t been focused on the robust skincare regimes and daily hydration serums, like previously in lockdown. 

“To overcome free radical damage, try adding an antioxidant to your routine every morning. It’s also important to ensure you keep wearing sunscreen, even as we head to the autumn months.”

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How to combat signs of dullness

Cosmetic doctor and general practitioner Dr Rabia Milik thinks our daily commute is not only stressing out our skin – but causing it to appear dull too. “Commuting results in more exposure to environmental toxins and pollution which can lead to skin irritation and dullness in particular, which is something my patients have noticed more recently,”  she explains.

“To counteract this dullness, I encourage patients to cleanse daily and use a weekly exfoliator. I also advise they make sure to remove any make-up when they return home from work and before and after exercising, as this reduces product build up on the skin and allows the skin more time to breathe.”

How to prevent maskne

Dullness in check and skin sensitivity soothed, but what about blemishes? “Currently as we are all using face coverings, getting into a train with a lot of bodies creates a warm environment so we are more likely to suffer from maskne,” says Pamela Marshall, clinical aesthetician and founder of skin clinic Mortar & Milk. “Clinisoothe Skin Purifier is the best antidote for maskne and really for all of life’s cuts, scrapes and irritations.” 

“It’s also worth remembering that we will be going into buildings with air-con and central heating more often again. Being near a radiator or a vent can cause dehydration to the skin, so it’s important to make sure you use serums that hydrate and protect. I love a well-blended vitamin C and PHA serum.”

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Your dermatologist-approved commuter skin kit 

What can you do to counteract those back-to-work breakouts and district line dullness? Keep scrolling for the skin expert-approved picks that help to clarify your complexion and protect against pesky free radical damage. 

  • Clinisoothe+ Skin Purifier

    pollution skincare

    Perfect for keeping in your handbag and spritzing on your skin when you get to the office, this cult skin clarifier purifies your skin from environmental pollutants that can cause ageing, breakouts and irritation.

    Shop Clinisoothe+ Skin Purifier at Boots, £14.95

  • Skingredients Skin Veg

    pollution skincare

    Pamela Marshall recommends this hydrating elixir of hyaluronic acid, PHA, pro-collagen peptides and botanical extracts for major hydration and souped-up antioxidant protection.

    Shop Skingredients Skin Veg at Cult Beauty, £44

  • Obagi Professional-C Serum 10%

    pollution skincare

    This professional strength vitamin C serum works to brighten dull complexions while ramping up collagen production, supporting the skin’s regeneration process and protecting against free radicals. Impressive.  

    Shop Obagi Professional-C Serum 10% at Lookfantastic, £86

  • Murad Daily Clarifying Peel

    Murad Daily Clarifying Peel

    Packed with three powerhouse ingredients: AHA (glycolic acid), BHA (salicylic acid) and a retinoid – this supercharged toner helps to improve skin texture and define the look of pores while clarifying the skin and stopping spots in their tracks. 

    Shop Murad Daily Clarifying Peel at Murad, £33

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Chloe Burcham