There’s more plaguing a pigmented and lifeless complexion than sun and hormones; it’s also the air you breathe…
Despite a disciplined skincare regime and a nurturing diet, if you still suﬀer from frequent breakouts and a stubbornly dull complexion, then rising levels of pollution in your city could be the culprit. “This is the next skin ‘worry’ after sun exposure that city dwellers should tackle with daily antioxidants and proper cleansing,” states Dr Sangeeta Velaskar, vice president and head at the department of medical services and R&D, Kaya. “Pollution and its negative eﬀects on the lungs and the cardiovascular system have been broadly well-understood. More recently, however, studies suggest that pollution is also aﬀecting skin integrity,” shares Dr Jean Krutmann, director, Leibniz Research Institute for Environmental Medicine.
Microscopic specks of smoke, soot, acid and other pollutants are released into the atmosphere from sources like fires, construction sites, cars and power plants. “When these tiny particles come into contact with the skin, they don’t just sit on the surface along with the daily dust and grime but infiltrate deeper layers of the skin, causing not only irritation and dehydration but also cellular-level reactions that lead to loss of elasticity and firmness. Pollution breaks down collagen and the lipid layer in the skin, which impairs skin-barrier functions. The destruction caused by these free radicals shows up as hyperpigmentation and fine lines. Free radicals can also increase inflammation, which makes acne and rosacea worse,” explains Dr.Neena Chopra, director, beauty and technical, Just Herbs. In simple terms, the smog is fatal not just for the respiratory system but also causes premature skin ageing. City lifestyle leads to dull complexions and problematic skin conditions. “UVA/ UVB rays, pollution, air conditioning, radiation, humidity, hard water and artificial blue light form the harmful blend of external environmental aggressors known as the ‘dirty cocktail’… these factors don’t just add up, they actually amplify each other — making it a recipe for skin disaster,” adds Vanda Serrador, facialist and body care expert for The Body Shop
No wonder anti-pollution is the latest buzzword in skincare. It includes products that prevent skin damage and those that rectify it — or both. An extensive range comprising cleansers, moisturisers, masks and night creams packed with antioxidants is now out there to neutralise free radicals and remove impurities, while some also create a shield to stop the grime from sticking to your skin in the first place.
International cosmetic companies have also launched new formulations with patented anti-pollution complexes or are upgrading their existing ranges to battle various aspects of urban life, mainly stress caused due to pollution and blue light from mobile and laptop screens. 6rands based on tenets of Ayurveda are taking note as well and are using potent plant ingredients that help nullify the eﬀects of the atmosphere.
As a rule of the thumb, look for potent antioxidants to include in your daily skincare routine. They neutralise the eﬀects of free radicals and help strengthen the epidermis improving its tone and texture. Besides overhauling your dresser essentials, include a nourishing diet rich in antioxidants such as berries, coloured peppers, kale, lentils, almonds and chia seeds. And it seems that our local superfoods such as neem, brahmi (gotu kola), fenugreek, amla (Indian gooseberry) and turmeric are just as potent, if not more. You are what you eat, and nowhere does it show better than your face!
• Cleanse the face and expose body parts using a pH balanced paraben- free cleanser which protects the acidic mantle of the skin.
• Exfoliation removes dead skin,and also prevents premature wrinkling and ageing.
• Both oral and topical anitoxidants should be a part of a daily regimen. A good antioxidant spring water spray should be handy whenever outside for longer periods of time.
• Sunscreen forms an essential barier between the skin and environment. An ideal sunscreen should protect against both UVA and UVB rays and be hypoallergenic. It should ideally possess physical filters to ward oﬀ the pollutants as well.