Don’t freak out but a little extra time in the sun isn’t the real threat. We speak about how pollution takes a toll on the environment, but the adverse impacts of airborne pollution on our skin have been brushed under the carpet for the longest time. While we now see a surge in anti-pollution skincare formulas, the important bit lies in understanding how pollution affects the skin.
Microscopic specks of smoke, soot, dust, ash, pollen and other pollutants are twenty times smaller than your pores. This allows them to easily infiltrate the deeper layers of the epidermis. This, along with accumulated dead skin cells, sebum and sweat, is a definite recipe for disaster, especially for acne-prone skin.
Exposure to pollution, when teamed with inadequate or no sun protection, is the #1 reason behind premature ageing in urban Indian women. Pollutants lead to a hike in oxidative stress — a major process of skin ageing — which results in faster degeneration of skin cells. This cellular reaction breaks down collagen and elastin, leading to fine lines and wrinkles.
Dull, dehydrated skin
Too much time on the road can cause your skin to turn dry. Atmospheric pollution majorly impairs skin barrier functions, leading to skin irritation, dehydration and rough patches. Oh, and you can also kiss goodbye to your skin’s natural radiance and prepare to make peace with an ashy, sallow complexion.
How to protect skin from air pollution
Since relocating to a lesser polluted environment is off the table, we’d rather talk about practical ways to undo the damage. The way you treat your skin at night is key to pollution-proofing it, considering there is no way to evade it completely.
- Start by cleaning it all off. Take double-cleansing seriously to get rid of the accumulation of harmful pollutants, along with your makeup and everyday sweat.
- Following this with a gentle exfoliating scrub in the p.m. is a brilliant way to cover your bases. If you have sensitive skin, limit it to every other night.
- Next up, bolster the repair process with a few potent drops of an antioxidant-rich face serum. We repeat, nothing neutralises the effects of free-radical damage better than a shot of antioxidants.
- Lastly, seal in the good stuff for the night. Pick a lightweight moisturiser and allow it to replenish your skin’s moisture content while you sleep like a baby.
- Also, prolonged exposure to UV rays amplify the harmful effects of pollution on skin. So here’s another non-negotiable reason to slather on sunscreen before stepping out the next morning. Do you copy?