How Pollution Affects your Skin | Sheperd Integrative Dermatology in Mount Pleasant, SC

Our skin accumulates more than its fair share of debris on a daily basis. In fact, along with our respiratory system, our skin is an organ constantly exposed to airborne pollutants. Along with lipids, sweat and skin cells that we naturally produce, pollution from the environment accumulates on our skin creating a sticky chemical film that can create oxidative stress, inflammation and hyperpigmentation. Yes, this is also happening in our beloved suburb of Mount Pleasant, SC.

We can’t always detect the microscopic pollutants in our environment, but you can imagine what builds up on our skin when you look at an exhaust pipe or see a brown haze collect along the horizon. The World Health Organization (WHO) has long recognized the dangers of breathing in hazardous levels of air pollution, but more research is emerging linking these tiny particles to skin damage. Air pollution is a mixture of gas and microscopic solids suspended in the atmosphere. These molecules adhere to skin and can spike inflammation, accelerate signs of aging and impact skin’s natural defenses. While there is a lack of in-depth research in the area of air pollution and skin health, there is clear scientific evidence that skin barrier function and skin hydration are among the most immediate and significant threats air pollution imposes on our skin.

Now that we know what we’re up against, let’s look at some daily solutions you can work into your routine to help shield skin from damage caused by air pollution beyond a double cleanse and SPF.

What products will help your skin from pollution:

Niacinamide (Vitamin B3): Either orally in doses of 500 to 750 mg twice daily or topically in brands such as SkinMedica and SkinCeuticals, niacinamide is one of the hardest working ingredients and is at the top of the list in being able to successfully reduce the negative effects of air pollution. It has been shown to significantly reduce damage to skin cells, protecting them and helping them recover more efficiently. It also strengthens the skin barrier and actively repairs UV damage – giving your skin all-round protection against environmental stressors.

Antioxidants: Build an antioxidant shield with free radical fighters like Vitamin C to strengthen skin’s natural defenses against biologically and environmentally generated reactive oxygen species. As the most plentiful antioxidant in our skin, Vitamin C plays a critical role in neutralizing free radicals and oxidative stress caused by pollution and UV radiation. Since skin is constantly exposed to ambient air pollution in the environment, it’s crucial to boost our natural defenses by applying antioxidant rich formulas, like serums, directly on the skin to build a reservoir of antioxidant power to neutralize disruptive molecules. Other antioxidant powerhouses include Vitamin A, C, D, B-complex and B3, as noted above.

We already recognize the effects of UV radiation on the skin, but now it is crucial to go beyond daily SPF to help prevent and repair damage caused by pollution. The threat from pollution is real and it’s not getting better any time soon. Skin and overall health can be protected with a high antioxidant diet, select supplements, properly cleansed skin, and using antioxidant-rich products. New SPF plus moisturizer formulas now include breakthrough antioxidant technology that helps protect skin against pollution. Ask one of our Sheperd Integrative Dermatology skin care professionals what anti-pollution measures they recommend to protect and restore your skin.

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Rebecca Repaire


Becky is a board- certified Physician Assistant and has practiced Dermatology for over 18 years. She graduated magna cum laude from her undergraduate degree at the University of Georgia, then completed her Physician Assistant studies at the Medical University of South Carolina. She now practices medical, surgical and cosmetic dermatology. She has done extensive training in the use of a dermatoscope and equally extensive training in surgical techniques for the removal of skin cancers. As her practice and skill have continued to grow, cosmetic dermatology has become a passion of hers and she devotes herself enthusiastically to continuing training to ensure she remains at the forefront of innovations with Botox, fillers, threads, and other techniques. She believes that our skin is a reflection of our overall emotional and physical well-being, and she delights in helping patients find their inner beauty.

Amy Jetter


Amy brings her whole heart to her role on the Sheperd cosmetic team.  A graduate of Elon College and the Medical College of Virginia, Amy has been a board-certified nurse for over 30 years.  Bringing her skills as an ICU nurse into her role in cosmetic patient care, Amy provides a warm, reassuring presence to all her clients, listening to their concerns and collaborating with them in a plan to bring forth and enhance their natural beauty.  A standing member of the American Association of Plastic Surgery Nurses and a past RN trainer in cosmetic and aesthetic procedures, Amy offers all types of laser treatments, botox and dermal filler injections, and chemical peels.

Melissa Mancuso

Body Contouring Specialist

Melissa has six years of experience in body contouring, beginning with her role as the CoolSculpting representative for Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia. Since joining the Sheperd team, she has received additional training and now offers chemical peels, Vivace micro-needling, and Diamond Glow dermal infusion. She loves helping patients feel good about their bodies and teaching them about how the various cosmetic procedures can help them achieve the results they are seeking.

Margaret Gierhart


Margaret, a South Carolina native, is a Licensed Esthetician and makeup artist with over 20 years of experience in the beauty industry. She earned a BA in Psychology from the University of South Carolina. She began her career in beauty as the resident makeup artist for Bobbie Brown cosmetics at Saks Fifth Avenue in Charleston. In order to expand her knowledge, she earned her degree in esthetics from Trident Technical College, graduating with honors. She joined the Sheperd Integrative Dermatology staff in 2014 and is certified in a wide array of cosmetic procedures and skin care products. Her offerings include laser skin resurfacing, IPL, micro-needling, chemical peels, radio frequency, laser hair removal, and body contouring. Her background in both psychology and artistry gives her a deep capacity to care for patients and understand what makes them feel beautiful. A mother of two daughters, Margaret understands beauty as not only external appearance, but also as a manifestation of the inner qualities of kindness, generosity, and well-being.

Madeline Anderson


Maddie is a board-certified Physician Assistant and a Lowcountry native. She obtained her undergraduate degree from Clemson University and then went on to earn a Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies from the Medical University of South Carolina, graduating with highest honors. While in PA school, Maddie served as a Student Representative for the SC Society of Dermatology Physician Assistants. After graduation, she completed a six-month advanced dermatology internship here at Sheperd Integrative Dermatology. She also completed the Diplomate Fellowship with the Society of Dermatology Physician Assistants. Maddie has a heart for medical missions and is passionate about patient education. Her free time is shared with her family, her friends, and her two fur babies!

AnnaKathryn Keiper


AnnaKathryn completed her Doctorate degree at the Medical University of South Carolina and has seven years of experience in dermatology. She has completed additional training in medical dermatology, cosmetic dermatology, and functional medicine. She provides skin cancer screenings, surgical removal of skin cancers, treatment of precancerous lesions, extractions of cysts, and the treatment of acne. In the cosmetic domain, she provides laser, filler, and neurotoxin treatments. Certified through the Institute of Functional Medicine, AnnaKathryn has a special focus on wellness, including weight loss and diet consulting. She uses her expertise in this field to create an individualized program to help each of her patients achieve optimal wellness supporting them in maintaining vibrancy and vitality throughout their lifespan.

Allyson Harrell-Garrison


Ally is a board-certified Physician Assistant and a Diplomate of the Society of Dermatology Physician Assistants, their highest rating. She is a graduate of Clemson University and earned her Master’s degree in Physicians Assistant studies at the University of Alabama; additionally, she completed a dermatology fellowship at Charlotte Dermatology in North Carolina. For more than ten years, her focus on both medical and surgical dermatology has included identifying and treating skin cancers as well as managing biologic medications for psoriasis and atopic dermatitis. Ally has a strong love of surgical dermatology and she performs surgeries every day in the clinic, including excisions of cysts and skin cancers. She also loves the challenge of a difficult case! On the cosmetic side, Ally is a skilled injector of both Botox and Dysport. She sees compassion and empathy as vital qualities that she brings to all her patient interactions. She is mindful that skin cancer screenings can be frightening or overwhelming; her warm, calm manner and her focus on patient education throughout each appointment make her an outstanding clinician.
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