1.Michelle with 2 guest speakers WCD

This June, I had the opportunity to travel to two amazing European scientific conferences to share research about pollution and skin health: the 24th World Congress of Dermatology (WCD) in Milan, Italy, and the 5th Future of Formulations in Cosmetics Summit held in Düsseldorf, Germany.

The topic of pollution and its impact on skin health is particularly relevant to Europe since many European cities have been found to exceed air pollution limits set by the World Health Organization or the European Environment Agency. In fact, more than 40 towns and cities in the UK alone exceed WHO air pollution limits* and the EEA named 15 cities in Germany that are worst affected by dust particle, nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide pollution.**

Recent studies*** have also shown that air pollution may be damaging to “many organs in the body.” More recently, there have been studies to show the damaging effects of pollution in skin. We know that air pollution is detrimental to our skin health, causing pigmentation spots, and wrinkles – signs of premature aging.    

My first stop was to Milan for the World Congress of Dermatology, where I had the honor of moderating a Mary Kay symposium titled “Environmental Stressors and Skin: Beyond UV” with two guest experts: Dr. Jean Krutmann and Dr. Stefanie Williams.

A pioneer of environmental medicine, Professor Krutmann has been relentlessly working in the field of skin protection. He was the first scientist to truly discover the impact of air pollution on skin aging. He is the Chair of Environmental Medicine at the Medical Faculty of Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf and Director of the Leibniz Research Institute of Environmental Medicine in Düsseldorf, Germany.

In 2010, Dr. Krutmann discovered that air pollution causes skin aging and skin pigmentation. Since then, his Leibniz Research Institute has conducted extensive research to determine the underlying mechanisms behind this discovery.

Dr. Stefanie Williams is a brilliant dermatologist with extensive clinical experience in both Germany and Great Britain. She is the Medical Director at EUDELO Clinic in London where she sees patients and witnesses premature skin aging in her patients.

At the symposium, the three of us shared the latest science related to pollution and skin health and discussed strategies on how to potentially counteract pollution’s negative impact with the use of antioxidants. It is energizing to exchange views with world-renown scientists and skin health advocates who have traced new paths to better understand skin.

The next morning, I flew to Hamburg to share the Science Behind the Beauty with the media in partnership with my colleagues from the Mary Kay Germany team. I spoke about environmental stressors and explained how they can lead to premature ageing. I shared the good news that it is possible to take the right steps now to protect our skin.

My final stop after Hamburg was Düsseldorf, where I gave a presentation at the Future of Formulations in Cosmetics Summit. This time, the audience was made up of industry experts and fellow scientists. I presented research findings on a specific antioxidant complex that can reduce the damaging effects of pollution such as diesel exhaust particles (DEP) on human skin cells. This breakthrough complex is the key technology behind our newest TimeWise® Miracle Set 3D™ regimen.

There is so much science behind the beauty! I love my job, I am inspired by the promise behind Mary Kay’s products, and I am excited to share our scientific breakthroughs and world-class product innovations overseas.

If you are a student with an interest in science, I hope my post encourages you to embrace your passion and realize there are many paths to a scientific career. You can make a difference through science and apply it to beauty.

Check out some of the pictures from my tour in Europe and share your experience with pollution: do you notice signs on your skin? How are you protecting your skin against pollution?


*WHO Global Ambient Air Quality Database (update 2018)

**Report by Bundesministerium für Umwelt, Naturschutz, Bau und Reaktorsicherheit, Berlin, Germany. 2015 (Translation: Federal Ministry for Environment, Nature Conservation, and Nuclear Safety).

***Forum of International Respiratory Societies in the two review papers published in the journal Chest.



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