The threat from air pollution to your skin is real and statistics show us it is not getting any better any time soon. The World Health Organization (WHO) highlights air pollution as the number one reason for environment-related deaths. It’s estimated to be the cause of seven million premature deaths every year—4.3 million from indoor air pollution, and 3 million from ambient outdoor pollution.
Exposure can also lead to more serious dermatological issues such as atopic dermatitis, psoriasis, and even skin cancer. Pollutants can also weaken the skin barrier function and penetrate through the skin, causing systemic toxicity in other organs.
Skin and overall health can be protected by a high antioxidant diet, select supplements, properly cleansed skin, and using products with ingredients specifically tested against the most common toxins in pollution.
Measures You Can Take To Protect & Restore Your Skin:
Cleansing: A 2-step process for cleansing - the double cleanse. The first is using a makeup removing lotion // balm // oil with a pad and a second cleanse using a face washer // flannel again with a cleanser to remove any remaining makeup, dirt, grime or pollution left on the skin rinsing with warm water.
Chemical exfoliants - There are two main types – AHAs and BHAs. AHAs dissolve the glue which attaches dead skin cells to the skin (and pollution particles) and are good for those with sensitive skin. BHAs are oil soluble so delve deep into the skin and pores and are great for those with acne-prone skin. Read more about the best ACID for you HERE.
Hydration: Drinking water and using excellent skin products is key in making sure the skin functions at it's best in protecting and strengthening the natural skin barrier.
UV Protection: It is still one of the biggest environmental stressors. An SPF product should always be part of the daily skin care routine.
Antioxidants: Can be used in both topical and oral forms. These include Vitamin A, C, D, B-complex and B3. Vitamins B3 and C to fight oxidative damage, vitamin C to reduce inflammation. A topical antioxidant is best, because the oral absorption of vitamins is limited, leaving the amount available for skin further reduced.
Adaptogens: These are natural ingredients can be included in both topical and oral forms that help balance out and modify the effects of stress on our bodies. Look for: Superoxide dismutase, CoQ10 and Resveratrol, ashwaganda, curcumin (turmeric root), and ginseng. The best way to incorporate these into regimens is through eating fresh (organic where possible // farmed locally // not sprayed) fruits, vegetables and spices. They are also available in topical skin care products.
Niacinamide (Vitamin B3): Tests show Vitamin B3 is able to successfully reduce the negative effects of urban dust, cigarette smoke, diesel dust and benzo-a-pyrene. It significantly reduces the damage caused to the skin cells, protecting them and helping them to recover better. It also strengthens the skin barrier and actively repairs UV damage – giving your skin all-round protection against environmental stresses. This can be found in Skincare Products, taken as a supplement or found in the following foods: Turkey // Chicken // Peanuts // Mushrooms // Liver // Tuna // Green peas // Grass-fed Beef.
Superoxide Dismutase (SOD): Is an enzyme naturally found in every cell in your body and is considered one of the most important antioxidants, is found in a variety of different foods. However, your body is unable to metabolize and absorb the SOD from the food you eat, according to 2006 article published in The Austin Chronicle. The healthy food sources of SOD contain nutrients that promote the workings of your body's own SOD. Both honeydew and cantaloupe melon contain high amounts of SOD The cruciferous vegetables broccoli, cabbage and Brussels sprouts are naturally rich in SOD.
LED Light Therapy: Different wavelengths of LED can be used for to target various skin conditions from acne to ageing skin. Each wavelength will penetrate a different depth and cause a different effect within the skin. Applications can now be subdivided according to the wavelength or combination of wavelengths used.
Inflammation - Can be the result of the oxidation of enzymes produced by the body’s defense mechanism in response to exposure to trauma such as sunlight (photodamage). Studies have demonstrated the anti-flammatory potential of LED treatment, it has also been shown to accelerate the resolution of erythema (redness) Wavelength: 630-660
Photo rejuvenation - Over time, skin gradually displays the effects of ageing. The collagen in the skin begins to break down and results in fine lines and then deeper grooves on the skin surface. Factors like sun, gravity, and hormones can speed up the ageing process. LED treatment can induce the restoration of the collagen deficiency by the induction of new collagen synthesis. In clinical studies, the increase in collagen production has been seen in association with improved appearance of photo damaged skin. Wavelength: 630-660
Protect Your Skin
There are five simple steps we can follow:
- WASH IT OFF
- NEUTRALIZE POLLUTION WITH ANTIOXIDANTS
- CREATE A BARRIER
- LED THERAPY
WASH IT OFF - I recommend using a cleansing oil - Oil attracts oil and helps to remove not only excess sebum but makeup, dirt and the 'film' of potentially harmful pollutants which have accumulated throughout the day. Apply cleansing oil on DRY skin and gently massage into face and neck. Wipe away the impurities with a warm, clean washcloth, [in circular movements this acts as a gentle exfoliation]
Try a Chemical exfoliant - Once or twice per week, these can penetrate the skin deeper than a physical exfoliant and is a great way to ensure optimum absorption of any products you apply after. Ingredients to look for are covered fully HERE.
Ingredients to look for in your Cleansing Oil [they help to lift and dissolve // dirt // oil makeup // pollution]
Castor Bean Oil // Avacardo Oil // Rice Bran Oil // Argan Oil // Sesame Oil // Jojoba Oil // Olive Oil // Camellia Oil
- Antioxidants are powerful and can neutralise the free radicals [caused by
- Reduce inflammation
- Protect cell membrane lipids from oxidisation
- Neutralise enzymes that destroy connective tissue [collagen]
- Repair damage cells
Look for Products containing botanical based antioxidants like vitamin E, B, C + A and Beta-Carotene - Rosehip // Camellia // Seabuckthorn // Prickly Pear // Pomegranate // Carrot Root are all excellent.
CREATE A BARRIER - Look for a broad spectrum Sunscreen that contains 'non-nano' Zinc Oxide as it active ingredient [avoid titanium dioxide] read why HERE.
LED THERAPY - Use your LED device daily if you have one, if not I would consider investing in one alternatively consider having a treatment at a salon, you can read my full BLOG on this topic HERE.
NOURISH - Daily exposure to free radicals which attack our skin cell membranes, our cells weaken over time. This can manifest in the form of inflammation, itchiness and skin sensitivity. Make sure the skin barrier is intact, and use ingredients that strengthen skin barrier. As well as daily application of antioxidant-rich serums//face oils // lotions nourish your skin in the evening once you have thoroughly cleansed skin use a mask // restorative face oil //serum // balm // to help counter free radical damage, but also soothe redness and strengthen the skin’s barrier. Ingredients to look out for antioxidants see above, calming: Chamomile // Blue Tansy // Turmeric Root // Calendula // Marshmallow Root // Oat // Avocado oil // Shea butter.
I have formulated my Hero product (launching later this year) with 28 carefully selected, Certified Organic, Plant Oils // Botanical Extracts for their Bio-Active Compounds ensuring maximum Anti-pollution Protection for the health of your skin. Hydrating the skin and Creating a barrier between your skin, free radicals and other pollutants. On next weeks BLOG I am going to deep dive into 'Antioxidants' how do they protect your skin from Pollution?
Until next time..
Be human | be kind | be you
The World Health Organization
- Air pollution and the skin http://journal.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fenvs.2014.00011/full
Air pollution and the skin