Evaluation of the impact of urban pollution on the quality of skin: a multicentre study in Mexico

Int J Cosmet Sci. 2015 Jun;37(3):329-38. doi: 10.1111/ics.12203. Epub 2015 Mar 18.


Objective: After pilot and preliminary studies aimed at identifying pertinent biochemical parameters, a multicenter clinical study was performed to evaluate the effect of pollution on human skin.

Methods: The clinical study was performed in collaboration with the 'Centre Régional de lutte contre le cancer de Montpellier' and the 'National Institute of Public Health of Mexico' on 96 subjects in Mexico City (exposed to pollution) and 93 subjects in Cuernavaca (less exposed to pollution). Both biochemical and clinical skin parameters were studied.

Results: The study demonstrated significant quantitative and qualitative modifications of parameters related to sebum excretion in Mexico City compared to Cuernavaca one: An increased level of sebum excretion rate, a lower level of vitamin E and squalene in sebum, an increase of lactic acid and a higher erythematous index on the face of the subjects. In the stratum corneum, a significant higher level of carbonylated proteins and a lower level of IL 1α were noticed, as well as a decrease of ATP concentration with a decrease of chymotrysin like activity, without modifications of corneodesmosin content and trypsin like activity. From a clinical point of view, a higher frequency of atopic and urticarial skins, a higher frequency of red dermographism, an important seborrheic status at the forehead level and a lower level of dandruffs were noted in Mexico City population. The analysis taking into account the sex does not modify the observed results.

Conclusion: The study demonstrated an important impact of polluted environmental conditions on skin quality, evidencing important modifications of superficial biochemical parameters. The cause/effects relationships of these modifications remain, however, to be further assessed by a complementary in vitro/in vivo approaches.

Keywords: atmospheric pollution; chemical analysis; multicenter study; skin physiology/structure.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Air Pollution*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mexico
  • Middle Aged
  • Skin*
  • Urban Population*
  • Weather
  • Young Adult