We all know about the health dangers of pollution – it’s been linked to lung cancer, cardiovascular diseases, a shorter life expectancy, and so much more. But did you know that pollution could be affecting the appearance of your skin too?
Many pollutants are tiny – you can’t actually see them with the naked eye. However, each time you’re exposed to them, these nanoparticles settle on your skin and sink into your pores. Once there, they trigger a reaction known as oxidization, and this is what leads to a number of different skin issues. Here’s how to tell if pollution is the culprit behind those skin concerns you’ve been battling, along with a few tips on how to put things right.
Dry and Dehydrated Skin
On the outermost layer of your skin sits a lipid barrier – its role is to keep moisture trapped into your skin, preventing it from evaporating into the air. Unfortunately, the oxidization process triggered by pollution damages this all-important barrier. As a result, skin loses moisture at a much faster rate, leaving it dull and dry.
Standard moisturizers are a great quick fix, but, ultimately, you need to focus on rebuilding and fortifying your skin’s natural barrier. To do this, you’ll need to turn to formulas containing the likes of ceramides, peptides, and essential fatty acids – they’ll give your skin the building blocks needed to repair and strengthen itself.
Clogged Pores and Acne
Although pollution nanoparticles may be minuscule, it doesn’t take long for them to build up in your pores. Combine this with the oil, dirt, and dead skin cells that are already in there, along with the inflammation that pollution triggers, and you have the perfect recipe for a breakout.
It goes without saying that daily cleansing is a must to keep your pores clear. However, if you live in a highly polluted area, a regular cleanser just won’t cut it. Instead, you should turn to a cleansing device, with Clarisonic being the market leader. In fact, research shows that a Clarisonic device is able to remove 30 times more pollutants than manual cleansing can, with each cleansing session taking just 60 seconds. Check out this Clarisonic Mia 2 review to learn more.
When pollutants enter your skin, the damage that they cause stimulates the skin into producing more melanin, which is the pigment that gives your skin its color. In a way, this makes sense – your skin produces melanin to protect itself from UV damage, and this defense mechanism is all it can really do when faced with pollution.
Unfortunately, excess melanin isn’t evenly dispersed throughout the skin. It ends up clustering in little pockets, which then causes the areas of skin above them to take on a darker appearance, resulting in dark spots.
These will only darken and spread over time unless you start doing something about them now. Your best form of action would be to incorporate skin-lightening ingredients into your skincare routine. Stay away from harsh chemicals, such as hydroquinone. There are many gentler alternatives that have been proven to be just as effective – kojic acid, licorice root, vitamin C, alpha arbutin, and retinol are a few that you can start with.
Accelerated Skin Aging
Pollution leads to skin inflammation, and this is known for accelerating the skin aging process. In fact, science has even given this a name – inflammaging. It weakens the proteins in your skin, namely collagen and elastin, the two that are responsible for how firm, smooth, and tight your skin is. As a result, fine lines and wrinkles become more prominent, as does sagging skin.
The best way to counter this is through the use of antioxidants. Not only will they repair the damage that has been caused to your skin’s protein fibers, but they’ll also protect against future harm.
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of antioxidants out there, but look for them in serum form. Since the serum is so much more lightweight than a cream, it’s able to penetrate deeper into your skin, where it can then bring about deeper and longer-lasting changes.