7 Tips to Avoid ‘Skin Pollution’

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Skincare in the big city.

City life has its perks, but one downside can be the effects of pollution on your skin. Here are seven tips to deal with what I call ‘skin pollution.’

I’ve traveled to some wonderful cities around the world to areas where pollution is a huge problem. It’s astounding what you can find on a white washcloth after walking through a busy city at the end of the day. The effects of air pollution are many and can include skin texture, irritation and even skin aging, to name a few. Pollution can also zap your skin of its healthy glow and leave it looking dull in appearance.

Let’s take a good look at pollution, understand how it affects our skin, and learn what we can do to counter those effects.

What is Pollution?

Pollution comes in different forms. There’s visible pollution that you can literally wipe off of your skin and see on your washcloth. And there’s pollution that comes in gas form, such as nitrogen dioxide, sulfur, carbon monoxide and so on. Bottom line, all forms of pollution can collect on your skin and create an unhealthy barrier.

Pollution can be responsible for skin dryness, dullness, clogged pores, some allergic reactions, skin irritations, inflammation and my least favorite—skin aging. Pollutants can really affect our face, neck and hands, the key areas that are most exposed on a regular basis.

Indoor pollutants can cause dry skin and irritation. So, what can you do? The first thing is to improve the overall air quality by allowing fresh air into your home as often as possible. By constantly refreshing the air, you can help dilute the levels of pollutants, which can be of great benefit to your skin. You can clean your home on a regular basis to get rid of things like pet dander and dust.

Outdoor pollutants are detrimental because they increase the number of free radicals in our environment, which studies have shown are damaging to the skin. Free radicals can damage cells over time by encouraging oxidation.

Here are a few quick tips to help counter pollution’s negative effects on the skin.

Double Cleanse

Your first step is to remove pollutants and dirt from your skin through proper cleansing. For those living in high-pollution areas, you may want to do a ‘double cleanse.’ Choose a cleanser for your skin type that has no added sulfates.

Give your skin a thorough cleansing, specifically to remove the surface residue such as your 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 cleansing. This way, you can be sure that you removed all the surface impurities and have thoroughly cleaned your skin.

Scrub the Pollution Away

Exfoliating your skin on a regular basis can help guard against pollution’s negative effects from building up and giving it that dull, drab appearance. A good scrubbing helps to deep clean your pores and remove the dirt, oil and debris.

Double Down on Antioxidants

Antioxidants help to fend off free radical damage and can support healthy-looking skin when taken internally. You can do this in the form of a healthy diet and by taking a multivitamin every day. Antioxidants to benefit the upper layers of the skin are also available in skin care products. Look for cleansers, moisturizers and serums that contain antioxidant vitamins C and E.

Use a Good Moisturizer

Moisturizers will provide your skin with antioxidant support and help hydrate your skin. Most importantly, a moisturizer will help to create a barrier between your skin and pollutants.

Avoid Rush Hour

For the sake of your skin, it’s always best to avoid being in pollution-heavy areas during rush hour. The more automobiles on the road, the more pollution you’ll be exposed to. It’s as easy as that.

Wear Sunscreen

There’s never a reason not to wear sunscreen when going outside. As a friendly reminder, it’s imperative to always protect your skin from damaging UV rays.

Stay Hydrated

Water is good for your body and great for your skin. By drinking more water, you can help keep your skin hydrated. You should also load up on fresh fruits with high water content. Look for antioxidant-rich citrus fruits, watermelon and apples for a delicious, hydrating snack.

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