Life Extension Magazine®

Marrubium vulgare leaf and extract that may mitigate pollution damage

Protect Your Skin from Toxic Pollution

Air pollution can penetrate the skin, paving the way for wrinkles, fine lines, mottled pigmentation, and cancer. The plant extract Marrubium vulgare strengthens the skin’s barrier function and reduces DNA damage.

Scientifically reviewed by Dr. Gary Gonzalez, MD, in August 2023. Written by: Robert Goldfaden and Gary Goldfaden, MD.

By now, most people know that air pollution directly affects their overall health and well-being, but few realize the heavy toll it takes on their skin.

Mounting research shows that a form of air pollution known as particulate matter can penetrate the skin to induce oxidative stress and inflammation, paving the way for wrinkles, fine lines, mottled pigmentation, and cancer.1-5 This is quite alarming in light of the fact that almost 44% of Americans, as of 2015, live in areas with dangerously high levels of pollution.6

Fortunately, scientists have uncovered a novel plant extract that significantly reduces the particulate matter entering your skin, while boosting repair mechanisms to help it recover from existing pollution damage.

The benefits of this plant extract can be obtained using a push-button-operated dropper created for the application of highly concentrated ingredients. This technologically advanced delivery system allows for a more accurate dosage to the target area of the skin to leave it healthier, smoother, and softer.

How Air Pollution Ages Your Skin

How Air Pollution Ages Your Skin  

Life Extension® readers are well aware of the skin-aging effects of repeated sun exposure. What many might not know is that air pollution is rapidly becoming another major threat to the health and appearance of your skin.

Every day we’re bombarded by dust, soot, pollen, and smoke in the air from various sources, despite our best efforts to avoid them. These particles—collectively referred to as particulate matter—are small enough to penetrate the skin, where they generate a storm of free radicals.1,7 The ensuing oxidative stress creates an unfavorable environment of inflammation, lipid peroxidation, and DNA damage that compromises the skin’s structural integrity to accelerate aging.8,9

The impact of air pollution can appear quickly. Researchers discovered that healthy steel workers exposed to particulate matter for three consecutive days experienced blood-cell DNA damage that reduced the expression of cancer-preventing genes.10

Abundant research shows a strong association between particulate-matter exposure and the hallmarks of skin aging. One study found that participants were 20% more likely to suffer from skin pigmentation on the forehead and cheeks when exposed to increased levels of soot and traffic particles.11 Another study showed that higher levels of indoor air pollution from cooking fuels increased the likelihood of wrinkle formation on the face by 5%-8% and on the back of the hands by 74%.12

When researchers examined the totality of evidence that exists to date, they concluded that “air pollution exerts detrimental effects on human skin.”13

Let’s take a look at how an edible plant grown throughout Europe and Asia fills the need for a safe way to defend skin against air pollution.

What You Need to Know
Fight Pollution-Induced Skin Aging

Fight Pollution-Induced Skin Aging

  • Air pollution in the form of particulate matter such as soot, dust, pollen, and smoke can penetrate the skin, creating a storm of free radicals that accelerate skin aging.
  • Exposure to air pollution is strongly associated with the development of wrinkles and excess pigmentation.
  • An extract from the Marrubium vulgare plant may protect against air pollution, while stimulating repair mechanisms to regenerate damaged skin.
  • Human studies show that Marrubium vulgare extract produces both immediate and long-lasting skin effects.
  • Topical application of Marrubium vulgare extract improved skin moisture and restored a healthy glow within just one hour, as well as reduced the appearance of blackheads and rough-textured skin after four weeks.
  • This results in skin that is fresher, cleaner, smoother, and younger-looking.

Marrubium Vulgare Extract

Marrubium Vulgare  

Marrubium vulgare, also known as White Horehound, is a medicinal plant that belongs to the Lamiaceae family. While celebrated in ancient times by the Romans and Arabs for its ability to treat respiratory disorders and indigestion, research today reveals that Marrubium vulgare extracts show promise in lowering lipids,14 blood pressure,15 and blood sugar.16,17

These benefits are mostly related to its free-radical scavenging and anti-inflammatory properties,18,19 which translates into vital skin protection and rejuvenation. Marrubium vulgare was shown in vitro to exhibit four key characteristics that make it an ideal pollution fighter:20

  • Protects against the entry of particulate matter into the skin, reducing uptake by 76%.
  • Removes and neutralizes damaging free radicals as evident by a 21%, 26%, and 38% reduction in DNA damage, carbonylation, and lipoperoxidation, respectively.
  • Strengthens the skin’s barrier function by 18.6% versus control after exposure to particulate matter.
  • Repairs cell metabolism by boosting adenosine triphosphate (ATP) production by 66%.

Effectiveness Validated in Human Trials

Human Trials  

By blocking and repairing some of the skin-aging effects of air pollution, Marrubium vulgare extract has been demonstrated in human studies to provide both immediate and long-lasting results.

When 100 volunteers ages 18 to 60 topically applied Marrubium vulgare extract for 10 to 15 minutes as part of a facial mask, roughly 80% of them reported improved skin moisture and restoration of a healthy glow within just one hour! The morning after using Marrubium vulgare extract, more than 70% of participants felt they had a less tired and polluted appearance, as well as cleaner skin with a revived complexion. In addition, 84% of them felt their skin was fresher the next morning.20

Longer use of Marrubium vulgare extract confers additional skin benefits. In the first study, researchers evaluated the impact of Marrubium vulgare extract on 40 participants ages 21 to 67 with blackheads and comedones. After four weeks of twice-daily topical application, the number of blackheads was reduced up to 50% and the surface area they occupied decreased up to 67%. The color and size of comedones were reduced up to 52%, and their number decreased up to 93%.20

Marrubium vulgare extract can reverse the appearance of rough and grainy skin. This was clearly shown in a study in which human volunteers topically applied Marrubium vulgare extract or a placebo twice daily for 28 days. Researchers observed that the treatment group reduced skin roughness and graininess up to 50% and 34%, respectively, compared to the placebo group.20


People today avoid visible pollutants without realizing that invisible ones can easily penetrate the skin. The surge of oxidative stress and inflammation that soon follows alters the structure of skin tissues and cells, leading to the hallmarks of aging that include wrinkles and undesirable pigmentation.

Compelling evidence implicates a role for air pollution—especially particulate matter—in premature aging of the skin. Scientists have found that a novel extract derived from the plant Marrubium vulgare may help prevent and repair air pollution damage. When applied using a unique push-button operated system, this novel plant extract results in smoother, fresher, younger-looking skin.

Gary Goldfaden, MD, is a clinical dermatologist and lifetime member of the American Academy of Dermatology. He is the founder of Academy Dermatology in Hollywood, FL, and Cosmesis Skin Care. Dr. Goldfaden is a member of Life Extension®’s Medical Advisory Board. All Cosmesis products are available online.

If you have any questions on the scientific content of this article, please call a Life Extension® Wellness Advisor at 1-866-864-3027.


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