How to Protect Your Skin From Pollution, According to Skincare Experts
The sun isn’t the only environmental factor you need to protect your skin from. You know that pollution takes a terrible toll on the world around you, but do you know that it can also affect your skin?
“We understand that pollutants can cause inflammation, changes in the skin barrier and dehydrate the skin, which can lead to loss of collagen and elastin,” says Dr. Melissa Levin, a New York City-based board-certified dermatologist and Skincare.com consultant. Keep reading to learn more about how pollution can harm your skin and what you can do to help protect it.
What Does Pollution Do to Skin?
It can be difficult to imagine what pollution really does to the skin since you can’t always physically see it. According to Dr. Shereene Idriss, a New York City-based board-certified dermatologist and Skincare.com consultant, “pollution increases the breakdown of your skin by increasing oxidative stress in your skin, which breaks down collagen and elastin.” Essentially, this exposure can speed up the aging process resulting in premature dark spots on and wrinkles.
The thing is, you can’t really avoid pollution. “You can do things to prevent it from having lasting effects on your skin, though,” says Jessica Houston, lead esthetician at BEAUTYBEEZ in Los Angeles.
Does Pollution Only Affect People in Urban Areas?
Though people in urban areas may experience more pollution, its effects can be seen in rural areas. Acids and debris from fires, cigarette smoke, car emissions, power plants, construction sites and more contribute to pollution in less populated areas.
How Can You Protect Your Skin from Pollution?
There are a few ways you can protect your skin from pollution. One of the most important things you can do is wash your face at the end of every day. “You can literally wash the pollution off your face at night before you go to sleep,” says Dr. Idriss. “It may sound silly, but it is true because things build up on our skin throughout the day.”
Experts agree that antioxidants are key for fighting the effects of pollution. “Look for products with vitamin A, C or E,” says Houston. “Those ingredients help fight free-radical damage and provide your skin with a barrier against pollution.”
One of our favorite antioxidant serums is the SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic because it is specially formulated to protect against environmental stressors like pollution. Made with vitamins C and E, it helps improve the look of fine lines and wrinkles, brightens the skin and can help restore firmness.
According to Dr. Idriss, wearing an antioxidant serum under your sunscreen can actually boost its effectiveness, too, protecting your skin from harmful UV rays and the effects of pollution. Or you can try a sunscreen formulated with vitamin C, like the Vichy LiftActiv Peptide-C Sunscreen SPF 30.
Though pollution is all around, taking these precautions can help prevent its harmful effects on your skin.
Additional reporting by Mary Honkus
Photo: Chaunte Vaughn