IIn today’s day and age, the amount of pollution our skin is bombarded with on a daily basis is substantial. For years, it was thought that the sun was the worst offender—and there’s no denying the fact that the sun’s UVA and UVB rays are detrimental to the health and appearance of the skin. But there’s no negating just how destructive pollution is, too. Nor the fact that pollution dramatically speeds up the rate at which skin ages.
If you think you’re totally safe from pollution, think again. Approximately 92 percent of people around the world live in cities that do not currently comply with WHO air quality standards. While it’s hard to completely avoid exposure to pollution, the amount of it that wreaks havoc on our DNA, skin cells and body continues to rise. Everything from UV radiation to hydrocarbons, smog, particulate matter, automobile exhaust, and cigarette smoke negatively affects the skin’s outermost layer, which is the barrier that protects against disease and toxins. Chemicals attach to these pollutants in the air and damage the skin and body by creating oxidative stress, which in turn breaks down collagen, elastin, increases extrinsic aging and ups the risk for skin cancer and skin conditions, like psoriasis, acne and eczema. And, of course, a connection has been made between air pollution and age spots, pigmentation and wrinkles thanks to research released by the University of Dusseldorf in Germany. In the study, air pollution was pegged as the leading cause of pigmentation on the cheeks.
Not every skincare ingredient out there can shield the body and skin from the harmful effects associated with air pollution but taking the proper precautions and using proven ingredients that mitigate the damage should be part of a sure-fire anti-aging approach. Here, our top three ways to protect against pollution damage:
- Take a nutraceutical with pollution protection
It’s crucial to protect your body and skin from the inside out, and the best way to do that is with a nutraceutical that contains antioxidants and plant- and herb-based ingredients that have a proven track record when it comes to defending against damage. Hush & Hush TimeCapsule ($75) contains purslane herb, vitamin E, resveratrol and astaxanthin to protect against environmental aggressors at a cellular level.
- Keep your skin superclean
At the end of a long day, it’s imperative to clean your skin. Try the popular double-step cleansing method, which makes use of one cleanser to first remove dirt, makeup and grime that’s sitting on the surface of the skin, and another one to lift away any lingering residue. We like cleansing with Image Skincare AGELESS Total Facial Cleanser ($30) or Youth to the People Superfood Antioxidant Cleanser ($36) first and follow it up with Dr. Jart+ DermaClear Micro Water ($32).
- Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!
Staying well hydrated, both internally and externally, is important because skin that is well-moisturized functions optimally when its barrier is strong and protected. Make sure to use topical products with supercharged moisturizing ingredients, like hyaluronic acid, in addition to drinking upwards of eight or more glasses of water per day.