Pollution is harmful to our environment… AND to our skin! What are its effects? And more importantly, how can we protect ourselves? Read on!
WHAT ARE THE MAIN POLLUTANTS?
Along with traffic jams, pollution is probably one of the biggest inconveniences of urban living. Several elements can impact your skin, such as toxic particles, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide emissions from cars and lead from factories.
There are also secondary pollutants, such as ozone, which are created when primary pollutants from stationary (industries and heating) and mobile (transportation) sources are exposed to solar rays and heat.
The quantity and the type of pollutants present in air changes constantly depending on the environment, the climate and meteorological conditions. For example, when it’s cold out and our heating systems are going full blast (wood, gas, etc.) the air becomes filled with tiny particles; when the temperature and humidity rise, the vapor reacts with different pollutants to create smog. Either way, your skin doesn’t like it!
WHAT EFFECTS DOES POLLUTION HAVE ON THE SKIN?
Pollution doesn’t just dirty your face on the surface. By accumulating on your skin, toxins block your pores and reduce oxygenation. The result: your skin suffocates, loses its shine and imperfections begin to appear. What’s more, when your skin comes into contact with pollution,
it leads to the creation of free radicals, unstable molecules caused by cellular oxidation, accelerating the aging of your skin.
One last negative effect, but certainly not the least, is that because pollution aggresses your skin daily, it wears down your skin’s natural barrier (a.k.a. hydrolipid film). Because your skin has lost that protection, it becomes more reactive, increasing its vulnerability. And a vicious circle ensues. Here are some of the effects that you may notice:
Exposure to pollution has many consequences for your skin:
- Dull complexion
- Dilated pores and appearance of blackheads or pimples
- Premature aging
- Dehydration and dryness
WHAT CAN YOU DO TO PROTECT YOUR SKIN?
- Remove your makeup and properly cleanse your face twice a day to remove dirt and get rid of as many pollutants as possible.
- Exfoliate your skin once or twice a week. In addition to unclogging your pores and removing dead skin cells, exfoliating prevents pollutants, dirt and bacteria from building up. And as an added bonus, the products you apply afterwards will be all the more effective!
- Moisturize your skin morning and night. After cleansing or exfoliating your face, re-balance your skin’s moisture level by applying a serum that’s loaded with active ingredients, followed by a moisturizer adapted to your skin type (moisturizing cream, lotion, fluid, gel…). The serum and cream complement each other and help re-establish your skin’s protective barrier.
- Protect your skin from the sun. We can’t stress it enough: applying sun protection (or a cream that includes sun protection) on a daily basis is essential. Not only are UV rays harmful to the skin, but they also amplify the effects of pollutants! So, make sure to apply sunscreen every day, year-round.
- Eat foods rich in antioxidants and healthy fats. In addition to being delicious and good for you, garlic, almonds, eggplant, broccoli, avocado, whole grains, oily fish and eggs help restore the skin’s hydrolipidic film and promote healthy tissues.