Journal Articles

Atmospheric skin aging—Contributors and inhibitors

April 05, 2018

David McDaniel, Patricia Farris, Giuseppe Valacchi (2018). Atmospheric skin aging—Contributors and inhibitors. Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, 17(2), 124-137.

Author Affiliations

McDaniel Laser and Cosmetic Center and McDaniel Institute of Anti‐Aging Research, Virginia Beach, VA, USA
Hampton University Skin of Color Research Institute, Hampton, VA, USA
School of Science, Hampton University, Hampton, VA, USA
Department of Biological Sciences, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA, USA
Department of Dermatology at Tulane University, New Orleans, LA, USA
Old Metairie Dermatology, Metairie, LA, USA
Plants for Human Health Institute, Department of Animal Sciences, NC State University, Kannapolis, NC, USA
Department of Life Sciences and Biotechnology, University of Ferrara, Ferrara, Italy


Cutaneous aging is a complex biological process consisting of 2 elements: intrinsic aging, which is primarily determined by genetics, and extrinsic aging, which is largely caused by atmospheric factors, such as exposure to sunlight and air pollution, and lifestyle choices, such as diet and smoking. The role of the solar spectrum, comprised of ultraviolet light, specifically UVB (290‐320 nm) and UVA (320‐400) in causing skin damage, including skin cancers, has been well documented. In recent years, the contribution of visible light (400‐700 nm) and infrared radiation (above 800 nm) in causing skin damage, similar to the photodamage caused by UV light, is also being elucidated. In addition, other atmospheric factors such as air pollution (smog, ozone, particulate matter, etc.) have been implicated in premature skin aging. The skin damage caused by environmental exposure is largely attributable to a complex cascade of reactions inside the skin initiated by the generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS), which causes oxidative damage to cellular components such as proteins, lipids, and nucleic acids. These damaged skin cells initiate inflammatory responses leading to the eventual damage manifested in chronically exposed skin. Novel therapeutic strategies to combat ROS species generation are being developed to prevent the skin damage caused by atmospheric factors. In addition to protecting skin from solar radiation using sunscreens, other approaches using topically applied ingredients, particularly antioxidants that penetrate the skin and protect the skin from within, have also been well documented. This review summarizes current knowledge of atmospheric aggressors, including UVA, UVB, visible light, infrared radiation (IR), and ozone on skin damage, and proposes new avenues for future research in the prevention and treatment of premature skin aging caused by such atmospheric factors. New therapeutic modalities currently being developed are also discussed.

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