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One of the biggest trends sweeping the skincare world: anti-pollution skincare. And the idea sounds great! A moisturizer or a serum that will help block pollution from cars, smoke, “city living” and even blue light? Sign us up!
The problem, though, is that many products or skincare lines that are marketed as extra-special anti-pollution skin-saviors are just that - marketing.
The good news? There is definitely truth behind the hype, and you can find lots of skincare ingredients that will help with your most prevalent “modern living” skin concerns. Here’s what you should be looking for and why.
There are all kinds of pollution that can negatively impact your skin and your health - and (at least before quarantine) it seemed like this was getting exponentially worse. In fact, 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!
Specifically, most people are constantly facing things like:
In short, pollution is wrecking our environment, contaminating our food and water, causing disease, destroying the air we breathe - and seriously damaging our skin.
Ozone, in particular, is a toxic gas that is formed when UV light hits mono-nitrogen oxides (aka the exhaust from your car or from factories). It’s suspected to be one of the primary causes of pollution-related skin damagebecause, when ozone hits the lipids on our skin, it oxidizes them,causing inflammation, breaking down the barrier function of the skin, and damaging DNA.
This kind of pollution has been linked to premature aging and worsening skin conditions like eczema and hives. And part of why it's so damaging is that a lot of these pollutants are fine particulate matter known as PM2.5.These particles are way smaller than our pores - meaning they can easily get into the skin and cause inflammation and free radical damage, accelerating the development of age spots and wrinkles.
That’s why the anti-pollution skincare market is growing rapidly. It started in Asia, where the market increased by 40% between 2011 to 2013(and it continues to grow today) and it’s rapidly growing around the world.
At the core, though, there are really a few core ingredients that will help here - and you don’t need to spend money in a special “anti-pollution skincare” niche to get them.
The number one thing that will help combat pollution-related damage? Antioxidants like Vitamin C and vitamin E - which you can find together, along with skin barrier building ingredients like jojoba and MSM - here.
These directly help block pollution by stabilizing all the unstable molecules (free radicals) and stopping the cell damage that pollution causes (you can read more about how they work here). In the big picture, antioxidants can help:
Next, you’ll need ingredients that will help you strengthen your skin’s natural barrier.
The skin’s natural barrier is essentially a wall of dead skin cells held together by lipids. It functions as a security guard, protecting what’s inside and preventing any “bad guys” - like UV radiation, pollution, bacteria, dirt, and toxins - from passing through.
The barrier also maintains proper hydration, balances lipid levels, and maintains your Natural Moisturizing Factor.
The problem, though, is that things like pollution itself, harsh skincare products, over-cleansing, weather, and hot baths or showers compromise our skin’s natural barrier for most people.
That’s why you need to incorporate skincare ingredients that will help. This includes:
You can find vitamin C and MSM in this everyday hydrating moisturizer. You can also find a vitamin E and hyaluronic acid restorative organic moisturizer here (we recommend layering them for the ultimate results).
You already know that you need sunscreen and that it can battle harmful UV rays. But do you know the wholestory here? In short, you need a sunscreen that’ll effectively combat UVA and UVB rays:
UVB rays are the main cause of reddening and sunburn, and they tend to damage the outermost layers of the skin. This is where most forms of skin cancer occur, and most of them are linked to sun accumulation over the years. Melanoma, on the other hand, is thought to be caused by brief, intense exposures, such as a blistering sunburn.
There are also UVA rays.UVA rays are longer than UVB, and they can reach the skin’s dermal layer (deeper down) damaging collagen and elastic tissue. This is also where the cells that stimulate skin darkening are found, meaning that UVA rays are considered the dominant tanning rays.
Though many people still think a tan looks healthy, it’s actually a sign of DNA damage. The skin darkens in an attempt to prevent further injury, which can lead to cell mutations that trigger skin cancer. That’s why UVA rays are known as the aging rays.
The point? You should be concerned about bothUVA and UVB rays. That means you need a “Broad Spectrum” sunscreen.These formulas contain a combination of ingredients known to protect skin against both types of UV rays.
These could be chemical sunscreens, physical sunscreens, or a combination.
One of the most effective ways of dealing with pollution? Getting it off! These pollutants don’t immediately cause damage to your skin. Instead, the problems occur over time if they’re just left to sit there and cause their mayhem.
That’s why consistently using a cleanser that will wash off the bad molecules without stripping your skin of its natural oils is one of the best consistent defenses against pollution.
Finally, don’t forget that an active lifestyle, not smoking, and getting enough sleep can always help pollution and other skin concerns.
Want to get started with a full antioxidant-rich, barrier-restoring, and pollution battling routine? You can find everything you need here! Say hello to happy, healthy, protected skin.