Pollution – it’s an environmental health hazard causing havoc on our planet, our bodies and on our faces. It not only affects our health by generating illnesses, it also produces harmful effects on the skin. We all know that diet, stress and the UV rays lead to bad skin and premature ageing, but we often ignore one of the biggest enemies to our skin; pollution.
How Does Pollution Affect The Skin?
Ninety-two percent of people live in cities that do not comply with WHO air quality standards. Common pollutants such as traffic fumes, soot, dust and cigarette smoke can leave your skin feeling dirty, and make it more susceptible to irritation, rashes, eczema and breakouts.
Chemicals attached to pollutant particles, referred to as free radicals, penetrate the skin and cause oxidative damage, which weakens the skin protective barrier and causes inflammation.
Once this barrier is compromised, lipids and collagen (responsible for delivering hydration and plumpness to the skin) start to break down and the complexion suffers. Cue an increase in dry patches, spots, pigmentation, wrinkles and an overall lack of glow – all signs of premature ageing.
If you have sensitive skin or suffer from an inflammatory skin diseases such as eczema, you are more susceptible to the effects of air pollution due to having a compromised skin barrier to start with, making it even more important to ensure your skin is protected.
Unfortunately, if you’re a city dweller - pollution is a hazard that you simply cannot escape from. However, there are steps that you can take to protect your skin from the harmful effects of pollution and premature ageing.
How To Protect The Skin Against Pollution
The point of using anti-pollution skin care products is to remove polluting particles from your pores so they aren’t clogging them anymore and to protect the skin from the pollution that can penetrate the deeper layers and lead to the break down of collagen.
Cleanse your skin with a gentle cleanser designed to remove all traces of make-up, dirt, grime and pollution that builds up on your skin throughout the day.
We suggest our Calming Chamomile Skin Cleanser, which cleanses and purifies without stripping the skin of its protective lipid barrier. It is enriched with a host of antioxidants, which work to neutralise free-radical damage within your skin cells
Antioxidants are your first line of defence against pollution. They scavenge your skin for damage-inducing free radicals and neutralise them before they can do harm to your skin.
For topical application we recommend a serum rich in radical-neutralising ingredients such as Vitamins A, B or C.
Vitamin C is one of the most effective antioxidants; it plays a huge part in protecting your skin from the effects of pollution. Our 5-in1 Rejuvenating Facial Serum contains a stabilised form of Vitamin C, which along with green tea extract works to protect your skin from pollution and reverse signs of existing damage.
UV radiation is one of the biggest environmental stressors and just like pollution, it leads to the breakdown of collagen and elastin leading to a sagging, hollow and lacklustre complexion.
Sun cream should always be part of your daily skincare routine. Our personal favourite is La Roche Posay Anthelios, specifically formulated for the face; it sits well under make-up and won’t cause breakouts.
Hydration, by drinking water and using excellent skin products is paramount to maintaining the health of the skin protective barrier. Opt for moisturisers containing niacimide, which is particularly great at repairing and boosting barrier function.
CeraVe Facial Moisturising Lotion PM is a cult favourite moisturiser containing niacimide, hyaluronic acid and ceremides. If you suffer from an impaired skin barrier function, sensitive skin, rosacea or eczema, this cream will do you wonders as well as protect your complexion from environmental stressors.
Nutrition & Supplementation
A balanced diet consistent of healthy fats, lean protein and lots of fruits and vegetables will provide plenty of antioxidant support and strengthen the body’s response to an onslaught of damaging free radicals.
Where diet lacks you can supplement with a vitamin B complex, vitamin D, CoQ10, ashwaganda, curcumin and ginseng.
Unfortunately the threat from pollution is not getting any better any time soon.
Your skin and overall health can be protected by a diet high in antioxidants, supplementation, a good cleansing routine and skincare products with ingredients specifically tested against the most common toxins in pollution.