Do you live in an urban environment? City life has its perks but one downside can be the effects of pollution on your skin. Here are 7 tips to deal with what I call ‘skin pollution.’
What is pollution?
Pollution comes in different forms: visible pollution that can be wiped off of your skin and seen on your washcloth, and pollution in gas form such as nitrogen dioxide, sulphur and carbon monoxide. Whichever you are exposed to, all forms of pollution collect on the skin and create an unhealthy barrier.
Pollution can be responsible for skin dryness, dullness, clogged pores, some allergic reactions, skin irritations, sensitivity, inflammation and premature ageing, to name just a few. Areas such as the face, neck and hands are often the most affected as they are exposed to pollution on a regular basis.
Pollution comes from sources inside and outside the home. Examples of indoor pollution include second-hand smoke, dust mites, mould, soot from wood stoves and fireplaces, air fresheners and chemical sprays (e.g. hair spray, furniture polish and perfume), which can lead to dry skin and irritation. To avoid this, improve the overall air quality by allowing fresh air into your home as often as possible. Freshening the air will help to dilute the levels of pollution, which can be of great benefit to your skin. Of course, if you live in an area that’s heavily polluted outdoors, try to keep the air in your home as clean as possible.
Outdoor pollutants come in the form of smog, dirt, dust, vehicle exhausts, nitrous oxides, toxic metals such as mercury and lead, ammonia, and so on. These pollutants increase the number of free radicals in our environment. Studies have shown free radicals are damaging and ageing to the skin as they damage cells over time by encouraging oxidation.
How to counter the negative effects of skin pollution:
- Cleanse & double cleanse
Your first step is to remove pollutants and dirt from your skin through proper cleansing. For those living in highly polluted areas, you may want to do a ‘double cleanse.’
Choose a cleanser for your skin type that has no added sulphates, and give your skin a thorough cleanse to remove surface residue such as makeup, dirt, excess oils and any chemicals you may have come into contact with. Once you’ve done that, it’s a good idea to give it another quick cleanse to ensure all surface impurities are removed and your skin is clean. If your pores are clogged, you may experience a few breakouts; use this as a sign to cleanse your skin a bit better.
- Scrub the pollution away
Exfoliating on a regular basis can help guard against the negative effects of the pollution build-up on your skin that can lead to dry and dull complexions. A good facial scrub will help to deep-clean your pores and remove the dirt, oil and debris.
- Load up on antioxidants
Antioxidants help to fend off free radical damage and can support healthy-looking skin. You can reap the benefits of antioxidants either via consuming them (blueberries are a great source) or using skin care products that contain them. Look for cleansers, moisturisers, and serums that contain antioxidant vitamins C and E, as they can help to counteract the pollution we encounter from urban environments.
- Use a good moisturiser
Moisturisers provide your skin with antioxidant support, extra hydration and help to create a barrier between your skin and the pollution.
- Avoid rush hour
For the sake of your skin, it’s best to avoid being in heavily polluted areas during ‘rush hour’ (the busiest times of the day). The more cars there are on the road, the more pollution you’ll be exposed to.
- Wear sunscreen
There is never a reason NOT to wear sunscreen when going outside. Even when the sun does not seem hot and bright; the UV rays are still there causing damage to your skin.
- Stay hydrated
Water is good for your body and great for your skin. By drinking more water, you help to keep your skin hydrated. Try to eat fresh fruits with high water content and those that are rich in antioxidants. Enjoy citrus fruits, watermelon and apples for a delicious, hydrating snack.
It’s almost impossible to entirely avoid pollution, but by following these simple tips, hopefully you can reduce some of the damage that it can cause to your skin.
Written by beauty expert, Jacquie Carter. Jacquie is Director of Outer Nutrition at Herbalife