When deciding to live in a major city there are many factors to consider, the cost of living vs career opportunities, access to great food, culture, social life and close proximity to a Zara store are all very important factors in the decision making.
How city dwelling will affect your skin and your quest for eternal youth, probably not so much. Of course, you have the added advantage of access to well stocked beauty halls and an abundance of spas and the best facialists to choose from but the lesser known hidden danger to accelerated skin ageing is also in ample supply, pollution.
In December 2015 the government published new plans to clean up UK’s air in 2016. By 8th of January 2016 London had already breached the annual pollution limits of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) a toxic gas produced by diesel vehicles 19 times in January alone. And it’s not just London if you live in any major city in the world you are most likely exposed to the same levels of pollution.
How exactly does pollution affect our skin?
Simply put, exposure to pollution and other environmental stressors produces free radicals in our body’s and on our skin, where their sole mission is to destroy our natural ability to eliminate toxins, suck out moisture and slow down collagen production. No doubt about it these have adverse effects on our body and skin. The damage that they cause at cellular level can result in anything from premature ageing to cancer.
To make matters worse, the ageing effects of pollution are amped up on hot days when there is more UV radiation exposure. But before you start penning that letter of resignation or cancel that summer city break you’ve got booked, there is an alternative. You can fight back and protect your skin by implementing an anti-pollution beauty regime, whether you want to make a small change and introduce a new product to your routine or you want a complete overhaul, here is our guide to products and tips to help city-proof your skin.
1/ Supercharge your night time cleansing routine
Scientist recently discovered PM2.5 a particle of pollution up to 20 times smaller than your pores that it can infiltrate the deeper layers of the epidermis. Once in, these particles can bind to the skin cell receptors, causing oxidative stress, wrinkles and uneven pigmentation.
The solution? Deep cleansing. Amp up your nightly cleansing routine to combat the affects of dirt and pollution that has built up on your skin throughout the day. Smooth on a cleanser like Tata Harper Purifying Cleanser, a powerful formulation of purple clay, broccoli extract and essential oils that promises to eradicate toxins from the skin and help to refine pores. ‘You may get a tingling feeling due to the ginger and enzymes’ so be careful around the eyes. Boost it’s cleansing power by using a cleansing brush to ensure a deep and through cleanse, my current favourite is the Luna Foreo.
Unless you’re at a festival or backpacking somewhere around the world there is no excuse for a face wipe at night, you need to intensify your night time cleansing routine if you want to rid your skin of the sweat, make-up, dirt and pollutants that it has acquired throughout the day. If you don’t have a cleansing brush then invest in a good exfoliator like Skyn Iceland Nordic Peel. The pads exfoliate and clear pores without drying out the skin whilst the potent antioxidants help protect the skin.
Charcoal is also great for pulling out all the dirt and gunk from your pores, we love Masque bar’s Luminizing Charcoal Masque for a purifying deep cleanse. Clay Masks work the same as charcoal but can be better on sensitive or dry skin try Dr Weil for Origins By All Greens Foaming Cleansing mask a rich blend of antioxidants and Kaolin Clay to help remove skin-damaging dirt and pore-cloggers.
2/ Take it up notch with Antioxidants
Antioxidants help to fight the effects of damaging free radicals, eating foods with high levels of antioxidants helps our bodies to detoxify and purge impurities from the inside out. However, it’s important to note that your skin is the last organ to receive the benefits of nutrients taken internally so a two-pronged approach is your best line of defence. Protect the front line by applying products with high concentrations of antioxidants daily. We love SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic a high potency formula that boosts skin’s natural protection against free radicals.
The Environmental Working Group publishes an annual list of the ‘clean and dirty foods’ that have taken on the least and most pesticides and chemicals whilst being grown. Apples consistently rank highest on the toxic scale, it’s number two this year with strawberries taking the number one spot, followed closely by nectarines, spinach and pepper. If these are on your grocery list it’s worth buying organic. Avocados, asparagus and sweet potatoes are usually quite safe so you can reclaim some cash and buy non-organic of these.
Greens really are good for you, up your intake of seaweed and dark leafed vegetables as these naturally bond to toxins to carry them through the body.
Chorella, Acai Berry and Spirulina are all powerful antioxidants supporting kidney and liver functions head to Naturya for a dose of goodness. Keep the flow going and sprinkle Chia Seeds and or Flax Seeds to your breakfast bowls or smoothies, the more regularly you go to the toilet the more toxins leave your body.
3/ Night Time Combat
Damage done to skin during the day can affect your skin’s natural night time repairing process, this is why it is so important to never go to bed without cleansing your face. Invest in products that will carry on the fight whilst you sleep like SkinCeuticals Resveratrol B E . A potent night concentrate of ‘pure, stable Resveratrol, Baicalin, Alpha Tocopherol (Vitamin E)’, an impressive list of ingredients that help target the signs of ageing and effects of pollution. If you are serious about protecting your skin , this product will deliver and is worth the investment, think of it as skin care’s answer to the Rock you want it on your side.
The sensitive area around the eyes are most at risk of damage, Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Eye Serum Synchonized Complex 11 contains ChronoluxCB™ Technology an anti-pollution technology to fight the damage caused. Guerlain Orchidee Imperiale Revitialising Night Essence has a high concentration of detoxifying and anti-ageing ingredients to keep skin looking clear and fresh. Infused with anti-oxidant grape seed, regenerating rose hip and detoxifying carrot oils it helps to support the skin’s natural ‘nocturnal revitalising process’. Claudalie Over Night Detox Oil also helps to promote cellular renewal and toxin elimination so that you wake up with clear and fresh looking skin.
4/ Hydrate and Protect
Dry skin is more susceptible to the damage of city grime and fumes, exposure to pollution depletes ‘Squalane’ a moisturiser naturally found in skin and weakens skin barrier functions, in short keeping skin well hydrated is a crucial step in this fight. So slather on a protective barrier daily. But a warning to ladies who apply make up during your morning commute. Pollution sticks to moisturisers so if you apply your moisturiser before you leave the house and then apply your make-up on the tube/ bus you risk sandwiching harmful pollutants and pressing them further into your skin. This goes for touch ups throughout the day, not always convenient but it is best to wipe clean and start again, just saying.
We all know that our Ozone layer is damaged which means we are exposed to harmful rays now more than ever. These UV rays accelerate skin conditions such as hyper-pigmentation so it really is important to protect yourself daily. Multi-tasking products such as La Solution 10 DE Chanel a soothing moisturiser is ‘formulated for sensitive skin irritated by aggressors such as pollution’. Murad Essential-C Moisture SP30 helps to prevent sun damage and repair existing environmental damage. A powerful antioxidant-rich daily moisturiser that protects against free radical and offers both UVA and UVB protection.
La Roche-Posay Pigmetclar UV SPF30 daily moisturiser is a great multi-tasking product that provides powerful anti-pollution protection, SPF and an anti-dark spot complex to create a more ‘uniform skintone’ whilst keeping skin moisturised. Garnier’s Moisture Bomb SPF10 contains two antioxidant super-fruit extracts, Amla and Pomegranate and also offers UVA/UVB protection
5/ Layerng pieces
Take extra steps in shielding your skin by layering these product under your moisturiser to help build barriers to your skin for additional protection. Vichy’s latest best-selling innovation, Idealia Life Serum is the result of 11 years of research and 17 patents. This unique formula helps transform and protect skin exposed to stress, pollution and smoke. Murad Environmental Shield Active Radiance Serum is formulated with a highly stable Vitamin C – 50 times the potency of prior generations – to improve skin radiance, helps to enhance collagen production and protect against free radical damage. Ren Flash Defence Anti-Pollution Mist is a fine mist that instantly forms an invisible protective barrier to shield skin and supports the skin’s natural defences against oxidative stress this can be used over moisturiser or make-up. Dr Andrew Weil for Origins Mega Defense Daily UV Defender SPF45 is formulated with skin-strengthening Opuntia Cactus Extract. More than just a sunscreen, it also creates a moisture barrier to boost skin’s resilience.
6/ Finally, let off some steam
The humble sauna and steam rooms have long been known for their health benefits. Sweating helps to flush toxins out of the body and eliminate waste. It also helps to promote healthy blood flow, transporting oxygen around the body so take some time out, get hot and sweaty and just remember to keep hydrated.
By Abisoye Odugbesan