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The sun is shining and I am dreaming of that bare-faced, no-makeup look where my skin appears dewey and golden and I throw on nothing but a swipe of lash slick as I float out the door in a summer-y dress and strappy sandals. Alas, my skin (aka my chin- the war zone) has decided to break out once more and I have been forced to carry a light BB cream with me at all times, despite my sweaty skin begging for a brief respite. Apparently, the summer is good for literally everything (my tan, my wardrobe, my general mental well-being) other than my skin.
With more time spent outdoors in this warm weather comes increased air and sun exposure, which means that the UV rays, dirt, soot and grime that live in the air have more opportunities to move in and make a home in my skin. These pollutants can cause irritation, damage and inflammation, which explains my recent breakout. If you want a greater explanation of how pollution became my skin’s public enemy #1, keep reading here. If, instead, you would like to know how to combat this dangerous foe, look no further. I spoke to licensed master esthetician Jennifer Ross-Boshes to learn all about anti-pollution skincare, and why it is my saving grace.
A: What is “anti-pollution skincare”?
JRB: It’s skincare which contains antioxidants, helpful little vitamins and minerals that can minimize unwanted effects and lock out damaging pollutants such as car exhaust fumes and cigarette smoke. Think crime-fighters for your skin.
A: Why is it important?
JRB: Believe it or not, 92% of the world’s population lives in areas where air pollution exceeds limits set by the World health Organization. With environmental stressors causing greater harm to skin health, anti-pollution skincare is becoming more important than ever. Pollution is made up of free radicals, or highly-reactive unbalanced molecules, that trigger our immune system and causes skin cells to break down and destroy their ability to function. This leads to accelerated aging, hyperpigmentation, wrinkles, and even age spots. Antioxidants combat these free radicals by donating one of their own electrons to boost molecule stability and prevent against future damage. By using a skincare routine that contains antioxidants, skin is provided with the necessary ingredients to fight back.
A: What kind of pollution are we talking about? What can it do to your skin?
JRB: Air pollution isn’t the only thing we have to worry about anymore, in fact, pollution takes on several forms and can be considered any factor that works against the skin’s natural function. Environmental sources of pollution include air, sun exposure, and water, which contribute to the destruction of essential vitamins in the skin, causing pores to become clogged and the skin to advance in age. There are also lifestyle factors that are pollutants, such as over-exfoliation, exposure to artificial tanning, and smoking. Smoking is a huge no-no for a variety of reasons; in terms of overall skin health, it causes premature aging as collagen is damaged in the skin, often leaving distinct lines around the mouth.
A: What are the main kinds of anti-pollution products that you should incorporate into your skincare routine (Ex. Vitamin C serum, sunscreen, etc.)? And, what do each of them do for your skin?
JRB: One key to protecting and nourishing the skin is to start the day by applying a serum containing vitamin A, C, E, and amino acids. Follow with the appropriate moisturizer for your skin condition to ensure long-lasting hydration. The final step is sun protection; a physical sunscreen which includes the minerals titanium and zinc oxide is the best option.
A: What specific brands would you recommend for each anti-pollution skincare vertical?
JRB: My favorite skincare line is Environ; it’s vitamin based and filled with anti-oxidants. For individuals seeking a sunscreen to incorporate into their makeup routine, Elta MD has many sunscreens to choose from, both tinted and non-tinted. Color Science is also a great option for mineral SPF protection; it provides a physical barrier that’s natural and easy to touch up.