It was only once upon a time when the air in our vicinity was as pure as the one imagined in fairy tales. Now, all that we get to hear frequently about is pollution and smog attacks in various nooks and corners of the world. As kids, we’ve grown up learning about the impact of air pollution on our lungs and other organs. But skin, being the largest organ, is often missed. Not anymore though. We have all become increasingly aware about pollution protection skin care and the measures that we should be taking to combat skin damage due to pollution.

A 2014 report revealed the levels of pollution to have jumped to dangerously high levels in almost half of the US. The report also disclosed that 47% of Americans live in regions that exhibit unhealthy levels of either particulate or ozone pollution. Unless you live in a vacuum, you can’t really escape from the effects of pollution. Therefore, it is essential that you pay attention to what can be done to protect your skin against pollution.

What Does Pollution Do To Your Skin?

Before diving into a pool of solutions or DIY remedies, it is essential that you comprehend the effects of pollution on your skin. Here is a quick peek into what pollution does to your skin:

  1. Darkens your complexion

Smog, grime, dirt, and particulate matter that travel as invisible buddies of the air love to settle on your face. These pollutants form a coat that envelops your entire skin. The subsequent effect, therefore, is a dull and dark complexion. This happens gradually, so much so that it happens without you even noticing it.

  1. Premature aging

Airborne toxins traveling as part and parcel of the air cause the skin to age faster than its destined to. Your skin also loses its elasticity. This happens as pollution hampers your collagen production. Dust, dirt, and smog in collaboration with the ultraviolet rays from the sun deplete the oxygen from skin cells.

Oxygen-deprived cells end up with damaged DNA. This climaxes in rough patches, wrinkles, and acne. The pairing together of UV rays and air pollutants also block collagen production. All this welcomes premature aging as per a study.

  1. Skin allergies

Long-term exposure to pollution, for instance, if your work revolves around lots of field work can result in skin allergies. Blood vessel damage and eczema are also common with increased exposure to air pollution. Indoor pollution, on the other hand, can culminate in rashes and skin irritation.

  1. Other effects

Not only does pollution steal your radiance but it can also cause pimples. The bad news is that the damage from pollutants is blind in its hunt for victims. This means that it can affect you regardless of your age. Muriel Pujos, director of scientific communication for Philosophy, backs this. She adds, “Pollution can damage your skin at any age, even when you’re young, because it can cause irritation, pimples, dehydration, and impact radiance.”

Pollution Protection Skin Care: What Should You Be Doing?

Although you can seek aid from pollution protection products. However, you should still take some preventative and skincare protection steps to keep the effect of pollution from wreaking havoc on your skin. Here are some crucial steps to include in your pollution protection skin care regime:

  1. Keep yourself hydrated

Not so surprisingly, water has the answer for most of your skin problems. It helps to hydrate your skin, improve circulation, minimize dark circles under your eyes, generate cell growth, and enhance the elasticity of your skin. It also plays a responsible role in protecting your skin against pollution.

To this end, drink mineral water that is free from chlorine and other toxins. Since water promotes cell growth, it assists in protecting against the aging damage caused by pollution. You can also focus on different ways to add water to your daily schedule than just sipping it simply.

  1. Add a moisturizer

Since you cannot avoid pollution, you can always block it. A good barrier to prevent and minimize pollution is your moisturizer. It works as a layer between your skin and pollutants that aim for sketching wrinkles on your face.

Direct pollutants attack the skin and encourage free radical damage. To combat this, use a moisturizer that suits you best. You can also try honey, which not only serves as a moisturizer but also helps to treat sunburns.

  1. Eat vitamin C enriched foods

As mentioned above, sun’s UV rays and airborne pollutants hamper the production of collagen. This gives you a dull and saggy skin. To this end, it is significant that you include food items that are rich in vitamin C in your diet. You can also add a vitamin C supplement to your diet.

The vitamin encourages production of collagen that helps to maintain a healthy skin and wards off the early signs of aging. Some of the food items enriched in the vitamin are lemon, orange, broccoli, raspberries, strawberries, cabbage, mango, cauliflower, pineapple, and more.

  1. Exfoliate and cleanse

It is very important that you wash your face before you head to bed. This helps you to get rid of the dirt that aims for settling on your skin. Getting rid of air toxins can be as simple as washing your face with the correct cleaner. Particular matter attaches to the skin during the day. Lucky for us, it does not have any immediate damaging effects. Therefore, cleansing them away is best. Dr. Carl Thornfeldt, the founder of the Epionce skin care line, suggests, “Use cleansers that will wash off all the bad molecules but not strip key oils.”

Another thing that is equally important is to exfoliate your skin at least once or twice in a week. Exfoliation is an essential step in your pollution protection skin care, as it helps to remove the accumulated dead skin cells and dirt from your skin. There are several options available in your kitchen that can help to thoroughly exfoliate the dirt from your skin.

5. Try food that is rich in antioxidants

The basic culprits behind the damage caused by pollutants are free radicals. This doesn’t mean that there is no antidote for free radical damage. The best and most effective solution is provided by antioxidants. These work wonders for your beauty including protecting it from sun damage, the impacts of pollution, and early aging. Antioxidants fight free radical damage.

Debra Jaliman, MD, assistant professor of dermatology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and creator of Sea Radiance Skincare, advices the same. She says, “A good strategy is eating highly colored fruits and vegetables, which are rich in antioxidants.” There are lots of antioxidant enriched foods to include in your diet or you can choose an antioxidant supplement too.

Lastly, in case you get a wound, make sure to cover it immediately after cleaning it. This is critical because your skin serves as an immune barrier. In this regard, Dr. Anne Chapas of Union Square Laser Dermatology in Manhattan, says, “So the main goal is to keep things out of the body. If you have a compromised skin barrier, it’s letting things in.” Hence, as a bonus point, maintain your immune barrier. All these simple steps will help you greatly in your pollution protection skin care.