How To Reduce The Effects Of Pollution On Your Skin & Overall Health (Win!)

September 1, 2021

Air quality has been top of mind for Canadians this summer—not just because of the coronavirus, but also, and more visibly, the wildfires that have blighted the west coast. We know, intuitively, that smoke pollution is not good for our health—it hurts to breathe, our eyes sting and we get headaches—but what actually is going on?

Smoke from wildfires, vehicle exhaust and industry contains a mix of solid and liquid particles, some of which are so small they can enter the lungs and pores of skin. “Even for healthy people, this can trigger respiratory issues and allergies and reduce lung function, especially in children,” says Martin Mercier, a product specialist at Cyclo Vac, which specializes in centralized vacuum cleaners and air purifiers. “For people with lung disease, that’s even worse, and it can also lead to asthma attacks and worsen conditions like chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD).”

And you not only need to be concerned about air quality during wildfire season. “The World Health Organization estimates that more than 90 per cent of the world’s population is exposed to daily air pollution that exceeds its guidelines,” says Vancouver dermatologist Dr. Katie Beleznay. “Air pollution is increasingly believed to play a role in a number of common skin conditions including acne, atopic dermatitis and psoriasis. In addition, research suggests it may contribute to skin aging including wrinkles and pigmented spots.”

What might you notice IRL? “A more dull appearance of the skin may be noted compared to counterparts living in non-urban sites that have a more radiant appearance,” says Dr. Renee Beach, a dermatologist based in Toronto. “Depending on the skin tone, this could be a more ashen appearance or more fine lines.”

Mercier says we might not even get respite indoors, where cooking, renovations, wood-burning stoves and even incense and candles can create tiny particles in the air. Dusting, sweeping and vacuuming with a device that doesn’t have a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter can disturb particles that have settled on surfaces or floors. And then there are the liquid pollutants—even from substances like air fresheners—that can be absorbed into soft furnishings and slowly released over time.

In terms of skin health, Dr. Beleznay suggests that a good cleanser, sunscreen and topical antioxidant can help prevent damage from the environment. Says Dr. Beach: “Commercially available serums that contain antioxidants like vitamin C (l-ascorbic acid), vitamin E (tocopherol), ferulic acid and phloretin are great at providing protection from free-radical damage. They can be applied daily or every two days to provide protective benefit.”

Short of moving to the countryside, there’s not much we can do to improve the general air quality of the world outside, but we can take steps to improve the indoors. Typically, the best thing to do is to throw open the windows and let the pollutants and, potentially, coronavirus particles, out. But if the air outside is bad, that’s not going to help, which is where purifiers come in.

There are two types, explains Mercier: portable ones, and ones that can be installed in your home’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system. These aren’t the same as air filters: purifiers like those made by Cyclo Vac will filter out the particulate matter, but also contain UV lamps that de-activate the DNA of bacteria, viruses and other pathogens, and neutralize bad smells.

“Customers need to do their homework to see what they’re getting,” he says. “You can go to Costco and buy something that has no UV and no capability of getting rid of odours. Or you can buy something higher quality—though not necessarily much more expensive—and you will see the difference very quickly.” Odours both nice and nasty will dissipate more quickly if you’re using a purifier; Mercier suggests that, if you cook bacon in the morning, it will take five minutes to disappear instead of 20.

What does he recommend between an HVAC system and a portable one? “Get the best option you can afford. Most new homes have the option to have an air-exchange system installed depending on the province and bylaws. It’s easy to add a UVC system to the cold-air return. Then you need to consider the running costs: are replacement UV lamps and filters expensive? Can you find them easily?”

And in real, everyday terms, will you actually notice the difference in your health and skin if you start to pay attention to the air around you? It’s an emphatic yes from Mercier. “I have asthma and have noticed that, since I started using a portable device that I take from room to room, I use my inhalers less often, I don’t have to fill my prescription as frequently. My allergies aren’t as bad. I’m sleeping better. Did I live 40 years without one? Yes. Am I happy I have one now? Absolutely.” —Aileen Lalor

Win! A Cyclo UV Air Purifier: 310C + Filter!

Congrats Janice M. of New Westminster, B.C., who will receive a $435 Cyclo UV air purifier: 310C + filter! Please note: if you are the winner, you will receive a DM (direct message) in Instagram directly from Please be wary of fake accounts, which often use similar handles with an extra or missing letter, number or symbol. We will never ask for a payment or for your credit card number, and we will never ask you to click through a link. If you are unsure whether you have been contacted, via Instagram, by us or a fake account, email us before responding.


  1. Tammy murden

    September 2nd, 2021 at 9:09 am

    Clean clean clean, get rid of dust and open the windows for fresh air @murden38

  2. So La

    September 2nd, 2021 at 9:10 am

    Air home out on clear @farting_frog

  3. Mona Qaiser

    September 2nd, 2021 at 9:13 am

    Open windows as often as possible, declutter to avoid dust, use eco friendly products and always cleaning! @msmonaqs

  4. Barb Derick

    September 2nd, 2021 at 9:20 am

    Oh a hairy cat and lots of weeds outside allergy season

  5. Cheryl Germain

    September 2nd, 2021 at 10:05 am

    I keep my home refreshed by letting in fresh air by opening windows, when circumstances permit.

  6. Jennifer Choong

    September 2nd, 2021 at 10:25 am

    Constant dusting, wiping & cleaning & opening windows for fresh air but a Cyclo UV Air Purifier would definitely be a big plus @mmchoong😍🙌🤞

  7. Jennifer Choong

    September 2nd, 2021 at 10:30 am

    Constantly dusting, wiping & cleaning all over the house & opening windows to let some fresh air in. @mmchoong

  8. Janet M

    September 2nd, 2021 at 10:40 am

    I clean on a regular basis. @asherares

  9. pnina

    September 2nd, 2021 at 11:44 am

    have carpets cleaned often


  10. S Lau

    September 2nd, 2021 at 11:58 am

    Aside from airing out the house, I diffuse essential oils to help keep the air fresh

  11. Amber olak

    September 2nd, 2021 at 12:15 pm

    I use a humidifier


  12. Heather L

    September 2nd, 2021 at 12:17 pm

    Let in the fresh air

  13. Nikki Lewis

    September 2nd, 2021 at 12:41 pm

    We open windows when air quality is good . IG @nlknlk

  14. l p

    September 2nd, 2021 at 1:04 pm

    keeping windows and doors open whenever possible. thanks

  15. Sandra Lebeau

    September 2nd, 2021 at 2:53 pm

    Help with my allergies and the smell of wet dog, I’m in.

  16. laurel jones

    September 2nd, 2021 at 3:45 pm

    after the forest fire. I have air scrubbers going then furnace and duct and filter cleaners and professional cleaners coming next

  17. Debora Miscione

    September 2nd, 2021 at 4:17 pm

    Weather permitting, we open our windows.

  18. Velma Sandry

    September 2nd, 2021 at 4:17 pm

    Having COPD I have to be particularly careful with my air quality. I dust constantly, mop and open the windows for fresh air. Of course the fires eliminated that option for the summer. Seriously grateful to have open windows again.

  19. Blake

    September 2nd, 2021 at 5:09 pm

    Opening the windows and letting the fresh air in.

  20. MaryM

    September 2nd, 2021 at 6:12 pm

    Fresh air, opening windows. Thanks @maryandcedar

  21. Nick

    September 2nd, 2021 at 7:20 pm

    Essential oils and a fan

  22. Brenley Carson

    September 2nd, 2021 at 8:32 pm

    We do a good clean every weekend with natural organic cleaners and use essential oils daily!


  23. Brenley Carson

    September 2nd, 2021 at 8:33 pm

    We do a good clean every weekend with natural organic cleaners and use essential oils daily!


  24. Carole D

    September 2nd, 2021 at 8:46 pm

    Open windows as often as possible,, dust and clean! @alwayscraftingg

  25. Deim

    September 2nd, 2021 at 11:26 pm

    We rely on of houseplants & open windows to give us fresh air!


  26. Monique L.S.

    September 3rd, 2021 at 5:25 am

    Opening the windows for fresh air helps me.
    IG @minty_mo2020

  27. Natalie B

    September 3rd, 2021 at 5:55 am

    I keep the house clean & the windows open! 🧽🪣🪟


  28. David Vaughan

    September 3rd, 2021 at 6:08 am

    Open your windows often and dust regularly.

  29. Jan Vaughan

    September 3rd, 2021 at 6:34 am

    I keep my home refreshed by opening windows and
    letting in fresh air.

  30. Daphne Smith

    September 3rd, 2021 at 6:56 am

    Lots of fresh air, dusting, vent cleaning and carpet shampooing periodically.

  31. Tabby72

    September 3rd, 2021 at 7:19 am

    I keep my windows open all summer! @tabby_1972

  32. Rachel C.

    September 3rd, 2021 at 7:20 am

    I try to vacuum and dust very often!

    @seafoodmwg on ig

  33. Justin Choong

    September 3rd, 2021 at 12:41 pm

    Open windows to let fresh air in.

  34. Tammy Harrison

    September 3rd, 2021 at 1:57 pm

    Getting rid of smells in our hone would be nice!!

  35. Rosanne Robinson

    September 3rd, 2021 at 2:25 pm

    I have asthma + numerous allergies, we installed a new high efficiency furnace with dual air intake & an enhanced filter to eliminate dust & allergens from the air. I’m also constantly dusting, vacuuming, + open the windows to refresh the air whenever possible. We also regularly steam clean our floors & carpets.

  36. Piroska

    September 3rd, 2021 at 4:28 pm

    I open the windows to get fresh air. I followed both
    on Instagram: @pippilongsoxx

  37. CL Chin

    September 3rd, 2021 at 8:15 pm

    opening the windows and spraying a refreshing fragrance around

  38. Florence Cochrane

    September 4th, 2021 at 6:47 am

    I keep the home as clean as possible. @fossie55.

  39. Irene Eichler

    September 4th, 2021 at 8:12 am

    Open windows and lots of natural cleaning products ..@ireneeichler

  40. Lorena Garcia

    September 4th, 2021 at 8:20 am

    I open the windows to refresh the air .
    Using natural products at home

  41. Denise M

    September 4th, 2021 at 8:56 pm

    I open windows to help refresh my home! @dremccrea

  42. Carolyn M

    September 5th, 2021 at 4:58 am

    I try to keep my home refreshed by keeping windows open and having no carpets, only tile and hardwood throughout.

  43. Linda Bragg

    September 5th, 2021 at 10:29 am

    open windows, use air freshners, potpourri, dust often and set out some house plants. @ldystetson101

  44. Shannon Gravelle

    September 6th, 2021 at 6:47 am

    Open windows and open doors for fresh air! @gravelle.shan


    September 6th, 2021 at 12:09 pm

    I have lots of healthy plants and open my windows to let fresh air in on ig. lillianmb23

  46. K

    September 6th, 2021 at 1:23 pm

    I use a diffuser with essential oil every day. @winterpalm

  47. Tammy Klym-Wolfe

    September 6th, 2021 at 3:35 pm

    Would love this. Opening windows is great for fresh air but no so much for allergens for my daughter and I !

  48. Rose

    September 6th, 2021 at 7:36 pm

    Fresh air and our rabbit air purifier

  49. Gloria Webber

    September 6th, 2021 at 8:54 pm

    I leave my furnace fan on all the time to circulate air and it flows through a filter to help keep the air fresh! @webbergloria

  50. Kimberley C

    September 6th, 2021 at 9:05 pm

    I like to open all my windows and doors to keep the air fresh and I vacuum a lot as I have 2 dogs! @kimmiecapp

  51. Lillian

    September 7th, 2021 at 7:24 am

    Fresh sheets and a diffuser going! @beyondumami

  52. Mary Danieli

    September 7th, 2021 at 12:40 pm

    I open windows and generally make sure I have great airflow but this little appliance will be a godsend for my new place.

  53. Shirley O

    September 8th, 2021 at 2:21 pm

    I like to keep my windows open as much as possible to let the fresh air in and clean & remove dust.

  54. Sandra

    September 8th, 2021 at 2:32 pm

    Opening the window is nice but this would be better

  55. Shirley Ng

    September 9th, 2021 at 8:21 am

    We open the windows and let the fresh air in.

  56. Melissa

    September 9th, 2021 at 8:05 pm

    I open all the windows to get lots of fresh air in the house!!

  57. Michelle Cox

    September 10th, 2021 at 6:52 am

    We try to keep windows open to keep things fresh, but obviously not great when there are wildfires etc, so it would be great to have an air purifier!!


  58. Nancy

    September 12th, 2021 at 8:29 pm

    I make sure I open the windows to let the fresh air in!! 🌬️💨

  59. Tiesha Dorleans

    September 14th, 2021 at 6:16 pm

    Clean, vacuum, mop and opening windows @SweetTD93

  60. Xu Liang Li

    September 14th, 2021 at 6:31 pm

    Use Airwick air refresher! @liangliangcanada

  61. Sarah

    September 14th, 2021 at 8:36 pm

    In the summer I keep the windows item to let in fresh air. In winter I don’t really have any way to refresh it. I would really like to get a cat but my husband has allergies. I’m hoping an air pure could make a difference. @teacher.momma

  62. Ming K

    September 15th, 2021 at 2:26 pm

    I open the windows and doors whenever I can to let the air circulate @squirmer03

  63. Yung L

    September 15th, 2021 at 6:49 pm

    I ventilate my house, letting in fresh air

  64. Allison Matz

    September 16th, 2021 at 6:21 am

    I keep my windows open as much as possible.

  65. Allison Matz

    September 16th, 2021 at 6:21 am


  66. Kristi F

    September 16th, 2021 at 9:32 am

    I clean with non-toxic cleaners to freshen up. On IG as @kpallaround.

  67. Ron Friesen

    September 16th, 2021 at 5:24 pm

    I like to open up the windows on a nice day outside to clear things out. IG @dogdadwalking

  68. Louise Lormestoir

    September 16th, 2021 at 8:31 pm

    I use a diffuser with essential oils @bella_loulou1

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