We are under attack…from countless pollutants and free radicals in the environment. The outdoor air we breathe may not be trying to kill us or intentionally harm our skin, but it definitely can contribute to early signs of aging. With pollution levels increasing as the years go by, researchers estimate that our skin is in trouble. Not only does harmful air endanger the body and skin from the inside, but also from the outside.
If you live in a city, there’s no way to escape smog and soot from car emissions or pollutants in smoke from factories. These hazardous pollutants continue to thin the ozone layer, which allows harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays to penetrate the atmosphere. It’s important to note that beneficial ozone exists in the stratosphere, while ground-level ozone can increase the risk of respiratory problems. This threatens both the planet and your skin. One study linked air pollution to an increased presence of brown spots on the skin in test subjects in China and Germany.
How Does Air Pollution Affect Your Skin?
The outermost layer of the skin, the epidermis, contains fats that bind skin cells together. According to scientific studies, ozone oxidizes these lipids (fats) and breaks down your skin’s barrier. This can lead to inflammatory responses and DNA-damaging situations. In addition to ozone, thousands of micro-particles enter the body through the mouth, nose, and pores in your skin. These particles can form free radicals and break down collagen, which is a necessary building block for healthy skin. As this happens, you can experience wrinkles, fine lines, dark spots, and overall dryness. How can you keep your skin healthy and fight all of this pollution? Continue reading to find out.
Environmental toxins can reside in pores and and slowly build up on the skin. This is why you have to scrub daily, even if you only do it for ten seconds. It’s best to cleanse in the morning and at night, especially the face, but make sure that the cleanser is not too rough. You can use a homemade sugar scrub (click here for recipes) on your face and you can use a loofah in the shower on the rest of the body. Give your facial skin the most love, though.
The skin requires moisture for optimal health, but environmental toxins tend to dry it out. Applying moisturizers on the skin helps to create a protective barrier that works to regulate oil production and lock in moisture. When you are able to hydrate the skin, it is less prone to dryness and inflammation. Click here for a wonderful DIY moisturizer that helps to combat dryness.
Use Antioxidants To Your Advantage
Certain moisturizes can help nourish and protect the skin, but one of the best ways to fight pollutants and free radicals is with antioxidants. Some skin care products contain potent antioxidants, but it’s also beneficial to include them in your diet. Nourishing the skin internally is just as important as external love. You have to keep the molecules that make up the skin as healthy as possible because pollutants can break down collagen fibers. Try to focus on three key antioxidants: vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin E. Some products have these, but you can also get them by eating sunflower seeds, almonds, beets, beet greens, carrots, guavas, citrus fruits, pumpkins, bell peppers, leafy greens (spinach, collards, beet greens, kale, and arugula), cantaloupe, butternut squash, kiwis, sweet potatoes, and more.
It’s easy for harmful UVB and UVA rays to damage the skin, causing dark spots, fine lines, and wrinkles prematurely. Protect your skin by applying sunscreen, but please choose your sunscreen wisely. Many varieties have harmful chemicals that negatively affect the skin. Reef-safe sunscreens are the best because they contains ingredients that are environmentally friendly. They also don’t clog your pores like regular sunscreens do. Keep in mind that you want an SPF of at least 30-50 for optimal protection, with a 50 SPF for your face.
Use Facial Steams
Facial steams are beneficial for emptying your pores of toxins that build up after exposure to environmental pollutants and chemical skin care products. The steam opens up the pores for optimal cleaning, and then you have to wash your face with cold water to close them up. To do a simple facial steam, boil some water and then pour it in a heat-safe bowl. Feel free to add some drops of essential oils or fresh/dried herbs to the water for added benefits. Hold your head about six inches above the water and tent your head and shoulders over the bowl by draping a towel over your head. Remain here for about five minutes before washing your face with a gentle cleanser. Be sure to moisturize after you cleanse and dry your face.