How to Protect the Skin from Pollution

As much as India is blessed with natural beauty, She is blessed with dirt and pollution to counter that. I mean we all don’t live high up in the Himalayas (Oh how I envy their skin!). Vehicle exhaust, cigarette smoke and soot – you name it, we have it in abundance. It’s suffocating to step out of a building in most cities here.

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Pollution can leave the skin dry, pigmented, wrinkled, and clogged. The major problem with pollution is free radicals. They carry a positive charge and try to steal electrons from any possible source to become stabilized. Oxidation is the loss of electrons. If oxidation happens to skin, it gets damaged. This shows up as hyperpigmentation and fine lines. Free radicals can also increase inflammation, which makes acne worse. So before it can steal electrons, provide electrons to it in the form of anti-oxidants. Anti-oxidants thus prevent oxidation of skin cells.
Here are some ways to protect skin from the harmful effects of pollution (other than moving to the Himalayas :P).

1. Protect – Antioxidant rich moisturizer + sunscreen:
Use a moisturizer filled with antioxidant ingredients to help combat free-radicals like enriching vitamins like A, C, and E to improve skin’s defense. Some good picks are Estee Lauder Anti-oxidant Crème, Neutrogena Multi-Defence Moisturizer, Clarins Anti-pollution cream, Lakme Pure Defense Anti-pollution system, Thalgo Anti-pollution Fluid.

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While smoke and dirt cause serious damage, UV rays are an even bigger culprit. They can create free radical out of these particles which create havoc on your skin (not to mention the ill effects of UVA and UVB rays). Use a long-lasting protective sunscreen.

2. Cleanse thoroughly:
Dirt and smoke particles can buildup in pores. A pollutant particle is like a cigarette on your skin that continually emits toxic chemicals. Proper cleansing gives skin a chance to breathe in oxygen again. Use a good effective cleanser (better yet, one with salicylic acid) to gently dissolve dirt and grime, and to simultaneously provide the skin with antioxidants and vitamins. If it is difficult to cleanse your face in your office, carry a face spritz which is loaded with antioxidants and nutrients.

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3. Neutralize the free radicals:
Consume foods rich in antioxidants like green tea, grapes, nuts, carrots, red wine, and green vegetables. Nothing like nutrition from within . But do apply topical antioxidants in the form of serums and gels.

4. Exfoliate :
Use a good chemical (AHA’s) or physical (granules or face brush) exfoliator at least once in 2-3days to get rid of superficial damage.

5. Treat with a mask:
Once a week, put on a replenishing clay mask which pulls oil and dirt from skin and soothes and calms damaged skin. Prevention is always better than cure though.

6. Wear a scarf :
Use a scarf every time you step out. Use it to cover your face except your eyes and wear a pair of shades. Or use a face mask. Remember everyone in China, Korea & Vietnam 😀 (I have one from my last trip :P). It started as SARS-prevention but now they use it to combat the pollution. They now even have designer and Swarovski crystal studded ones 😀

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7. Avoid the peak hour:
If you can, avoid the rush hour of the day whenever you can. The environment is loaded with the bad stuff the most during that time.

8. Say No to cigarettes:
Stop smoking and stay away from second hand smoke (equally dangerous!). Cigarette smoke is one of the leading causes of premature ageing.

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9. Hydraaaate!!:
Drink loads n loads of water (water seems to be the solution for every problem doesn’t it?!).

image source 1 2 3 4 5

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5 thoughts on “How to Protect the Skin from Pollution

  1. This is much needed Anjana especially in Delhi. I do a lot of these when I go out, and thankfully I don’t have to go out much these days. Still, I try to maintain good ctm and exfoliation routine.

  2. This is a useful and much needed post Anjana… I immediately ran to this post after reading its title! 😛 I try to maintain a good ctm routine and cover my face as much as I can but still, dirt gets to my skin :/

  3. Swarovski crystal studded face mask!!!!! Amazing concept!!!! Nicely written article and good points to remember. Thanks for sharing

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