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Pollution is a major issue - and in many cities, it’s getting worse everyday. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 92% of people live in cities that don’t comply with the WHO’s air quality standards - yikes!
This has a major negative impact on our bodies and on the world. A whopping 11.6% of all global deaths are associated with indoor and outdoor pollution. This number is likely to rise as conditions worsen in many cities and countries.
But the point of this isn’t to scare you out of leaving your house. Rather, use these facts get empowered to understand exactly what’s going on and what steps you can take to help stop the damage - both to your face and to the world around you.
Let’s dive in.
You are bombarded by all kinds of pollution every day - some that you’d expect, some you wouldn’t.
In short, pollution is wrecking our environment, contaminating our food and water, causing disease, and destroying the air we breathe.
It should come as no surprise, then, that it’s also wreaking havoc on your hair and skin.
Pollution can have major consequences on the skin, causing:
The main culprit here is unchecked oxidative stress and free radicals. Pollutants hit your skin and cause over-production of reactive oxygen species (ROS), or free radicals. These unstable molecules are microscopic wrecking balls on your skin that:
Antioxidants can calm these unstable free radicals by donating an electron in order to stabilize them. The problem? Your natural antioxidants aren’t always powerful enough to combat these ROS's on their own and neutralize them before they do real damage. As a result, free radicals break down your skin’s natural barrier, collagen and lipids.
That’s why you may need a little help.
Overall, there are 3 steps that you can follow to help you stop free radical damage and reverse the harm of pollution:
First thing’s first - you have to get the grime off and cleanse thoroughly every day. This is a step that many people skip or do incompletely, but that’s a problem. If you don’t get all of the gross off your face, you won’t effectively reduce the burden on your skin or properly prep it for your products.
Properly cleansing the skin can involve up to three steps (though, at minimum, you should do step one): a cleanser, exfoliant, and toner.
As we explained, the biggest problem that pollution creates is free radicals on the surface of the skin. So, you need to deliver antioxidants directly to your skin to neutralize those free radicals and diminish any possible negative effects.
There's good news: you can incorporate antioxidants into most steps of your skincare routine. This can start right away, for example, with an antioxidant-rich cleanser. Or you can layer on a serum with antioxidants directly after cleansing or finish with an everyday cream to block pollution.
Don’t forget about the power of incorporating antioxidant-rich foods like blueberries, leafy greens, or beans into your diet. That way, you can nourish your skin from the inside out.
A common skin problem overall is UV damage - and this only gets more profound with pollution.
As air pollution erodes the ozone layer, UV rays become stronger and more harmful. This not only increases your risk of sunburn but also exacerbates issues like hyperpigmentation and inflammation.
You have to protect your skin from this kind of damage (and from bacteria, infection, and other problems). That involves two things: repairing and strengthening your skin’s natural barrier and using UVA and UVB protective sunscreen.
The former is accomplished primarily through the products that you add to your skincare routine. Look for products that restore the lipids and strengthen your barrier, including:
And don’t forget that UV protection! An adequate sunscreen is necessary to protect against pollutants and UV damage. Bonus points if you find one with antioxidants too.
Don’t know where to start? You can find a whole suite of pollution-fighting products to add to your skincare regimen in our Discovery Kit.