Image via Park Street on Unsplash
By Shilpa Bhim
Air pollution and the impact it is having on our planet, our health and our skin is a hot topic right now.
Most recently, the smoke from the unprecedented bushfires burning through Australia have had a significant detrimental impact on the air quality in Australia and across the globe.
Low air quality not only affects our internal organs, but also our largest external organ - our skin.
Air pollution is affecting all of us no matter where in the world we live, Zovers. So, we’ve rounded up the top 8 anti-pollution skincare ingredients that you need to use to keep your skin happy, healthy and protected from the damaging effects of air-pollution.
WHAT CAUSES AIR POLLUTION?
First things first, it’s important to understand what causes air pollution, and how it affects our skin.
Air pollution is caused by gases and particles that are suspended in the air. These gases and particles can come from things like car and truck exhaust, industrial waste, cigarette smoke, dust, pollen, and smoke from fires to name a few.
While we can sometimes see air pollution, for example the haze or smoke from the Australian bushfires, most of the time it is not visible to the human eye.
HOW DOES AIR POLLUTION AFFECT OUR SKIN?
Air pollution is a silent aggressor - we can’t necessarily see it, but it’s always there, wreaking havoc on our skin!
Collette Haydon, who is a skincare formulator, notes that air pollution generates free radicals on the skin, which can lead to skin sensitivity.
“When the level of free radicals exceeds our skin’s defence mechanisms, the skin cells are placed in a state of oxidative stress,” she says.
Oxidative stress leads to skin issues such as pigmentation, a dull, sallow complexion, inflammation, and damage to collagen which leads to wrinkles and sagging skin.
Furthermore, Dr Tom Mammone, dermatologist and vice president of skin physiology and pharmacology at Clinique, notes that pollution tears tiny holes in the skin’s barrier which causes moisture loss.
CAN I PROTECT MY SKIN FROM THE DAMAGING EFFECTS OF AIR POLLUTION?
Good news Zovers. With the right ingredients you can help to keep your skin protected against air pollution. There are two types of ingredients to look out for:
- Antioxidant Rich Ingredients - our bodies use antioxidant vitamins and minerals to counteract oxidative stress on our skin.
- Hydrating Ingredients - to help strengthen your skin’s barrier and keep it intact.
Not sure which ingredients tick these boxes? We’ve got you covered! Here are our top 8 anti-pollution skincare ingredients:
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant, protecting your skin from the negative effects of air-pollution.
In fact, Vitamin C is highly acidic. When it’s used topically it triggers the skin to heal itself by accelerating the production of elastin and collagen. New York City based dermatologist Howard Sobel also highlights that Vitamin C is a superior brightening agent that works to fade brown spots without altering normal skin pigmentation.
Just like Vitamin C, Vitamin E is another powerful antioxidant. It is also known for its healing and moisturising properties and is anti-inflammatory.
Also known as Vitamin B3, Niacinamide helps to renew, restore and strengthen the skin’s surface.
Niacinamide also helps with improving uneven skin tone, dullness, fine lines, wrinkles, and enlarged pores - a magic ingredient that your skin will love!
Rosehip seeds, which are pressed to make Rosehip Oil, are potent antioxidants.
Not only does Rosehip Oil fight free radical damage and protect your skin from pollution, it’s also incredibly moisturising. Your skin will benefit from the Fatty Acids (Omegas 6 and 9) and Vitamin A naturally present in Rosehip Oil which will improve your skin’s moisture levels.
Hyaluronic acid is found naturally in our skin, and binds to water to help keep skin super hydrated and plump.
However, just like collagen and elastin, the amount of hyaluronic acid in our skin decreases as we age.
So, using this ingredient in your skincare will help your skin to stay hydrated and will support a strengthened skin barrier.
Algae is packed full of skin loving minerals and nutrients and is rich in antioxidants.
Having been used in skincare for thousands of years, this little powerhouse will help to protect your skin from air pollution while also keeping it hydrated and nourished.
Matcha Green Tea
Matcha green tea is a potent antioxidant which will help fight off free radical damage on your skin. It also rejuvenates your skin, reducing the appearance of tired or stressed skin.
Mineral sunscreens (e.g. zinc oxide or titanium oxide) form a physical barrier on your skin. This barrier prevents air pollution and UV rays from getting through to our skin. Keeping us safe from pollution and the sun? We’ll take it!
In addition to incorporating some of these ingredients into your skincare, don’t forget to follow a daily skincare routine and be sure to rigorously cleanse your face in the evenings. This will help get rid of the dirt, grime and any surface pollution that has built up on the surface of your skin over the course of the day.