Anti-Pollution Skincare - How To Protect Your Skin From Daily Damage
The World Health Organisation estimates that 99% of the world’s population is exposed to polluted air. This undoubtedly poses serious health risks, including skin damage. The rise of “anti-pollution skincare” looks to protect and prevent this harm, which includes concerns with skin dullness, roughness, redness and accelerated ageing to name a few. While the effects of pollution can sadly never be eradicated or blocked, choosing the right skincare allows us to put up the best fight and also address daily damage.
Understanding How Pollution Relates To Skin Health
While we may all be familiar with the concept of pollution and the effect it has on our natural world, how it impacts our skin may not be quite so straightforward. First, we must define “pollution” in relation to skin health, and in this context, we’re referring to a range of environmental and airborne contaminants that cause adverse effects on our complexion.
Air pollution is a colloquial term used to describe all harmful gases and particles that are released into the atmosphere, as a result of human activity. This pollution is made up of vehicle exhaust fumes, the byproduct of global production, petrol and smoke from tobacco and cigarettes. The air we breathe, particularly in urban areas, contains a multitude of pollutants. These pollutants can also settle on the skin, contributing to a range of skin damage issues.
How Does Air Pollution Damage Your Skin?
Air pollution contains free radicals, aka molecules that can cause damage to living tissues and cells. Exposure to these free radicals can cause what’s known as oxidative stress on the skin, which is where the body struggles to repair the damage caused by these pollutive molecules. Oxidative stress appears in the form of premature ageing, dark spots and even skin diseases, in the most extreme scenarios.
Air pollution exposure can also trigger increased inflammation in your skin, leading to redness, sensitivity and itching. It also has the ability to worsen pre-existing skin conditions like acne, rosacea and eczema, while triggering early signs of ageing like fine lines and a loss of elasticity.
Breakouts and clogged pores
When air pollution particles settle on the skin, they can combine with existing sweat and sebum, clogging pores and leading to blackheads and breakouts. Consistent bouts of acne can also lead to scarring and hyperpigmentation concerns.
Weakened skin barrier
Harmful air pollution can comprise your skin barrier, which not only makes you more likely to experience skin concerns but also means it's less equipped to heal and repair itself. Besides this, common issues with a weakened skin barrier include moisture loss, increased sensitivity and uneven skin tone.
Dehydration and dryness
Air pollution is also interconnected with the onset of dry/dehydrated skin. Fine particulate matter pollution can strip away the skin's natural oils and barrier that keeps our complexions hydrated and balanced. This makes it harder for the skin to retain moisture, vital for the healing of many skin concerns.
Reduced collagen production
Collagen is a vital protein that keeps our skin supple and elasticised while limiting common ageing signs like fine lines, wrinkles and sagging. Pollution can interfere with the production of collagen, slowing down our natural supply. Again, this is mainly due to an impaired skin barrier function.
When exposed to air pollution, our skin struggles to heal itself as quickly. This is due to the fact our skin barrier has weakened and struggles to defend and repair. It proves to often be a vicious cycle, with slower healing making your skin susceptible to further damage.
Your Guide To Anti-Pollution Skincare
Skincare can’t prevent pollution exposure, but it’s your everyday defence against damage and also a remedy for addressing existing environmental damage. Combine a regular, consistent routine with effective, nourishing products, formulated with anti-pollution protection in mind.
- Cleanse well
To start your anti-pollution skincare routine, bookend your morning and evening with a purifying cleanse, opting for a double cleanse PM. Your skin will be dirtier and will have picked up surface-level pollutants throughout the day, so first go in with an oil cleanser to break down the grime, before massaging in a water-based wash, like our Glycolic Facial Cleanser. Designed specifically to help your skin cope with environmental stressors, our revolutionary active cleanser works to refresh dirt-clogged pores, while also supporting the skin’s protective barrier.
2. Keep your skin hydrated
Hydration is important for healthy skin in general, but even more so when you're regularly exposed to high levels of air pollution. Choose to get your daily dose of hydrating, barrier-strengthening goodness in the form of a serum. These products provide higher concentrations of ingredients for more effective, and faster results when working with skin concerns. Our Facial Hydrator Serum is crafted with a blend of natural oils to fight off free radical damage while nourishing and hydrating. Apply directly to the skin or mixed in with your favourite moisturiser or day cream.
3. Include antioxidants in your regimen
In the face of free radicals and pollution, antioxidants are your superhero skincare ingredients. They work to neutralise the effects of these free radicals, preventing their harmful effects on the skin. A healthy dose of antioxidants is vital in preventative pollution care. Source products that are formulated with ingredients like green tea extract, CoQ10 and vitamin C - all of which can be found in the Nourishing Day Cream. Created to be your daily glow defence, this lightweight cream is packed with antioxidants to protect and shield against pollutive damage.
4. Strengthen your skin barrier
Your best shot at protecting your skin against the effects of air pollution is keeping your barrier as strong as possible. Do this by using skincare products that are formulated with ceramides and fatty acids, found in our favourite oil - hemp seed. Found throughout our range of natural skincare, hemp seed oil is a powerful antioxidant that works to both repair skin barrier damage and strengthen against future pollution damage. Use our Hydrating Night Cream for skin repair and restoration each evening. Apply just a few small dots and massage well into the skin.
Regular buffing away of dead skin cells and dirt is important for skin health, but if you already have a skin barrier in distress, proceed with caution. Opt for a gentle chemical exfoliant, which can be found in our Glycolic Facial Cleanser or other exfoliators with natural fruit enzymes and alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs). When working with a stand-alone exfoliant, use 1-2 times per week, depending on your skin’s needs.
6. Full-spectrum protection
One of the best ways you can provide daily protection for your skin barrier is by wearing a full-spectrum SPF. This sufficiently blocks out both UVA and UVB rays, preventing sunburn and damage, and strengthening support for your skin barrier to cope with environmental pollution. This full spectrum SPF from Supergoop is one of our favourites, and the perfect finishing touch when closing out your anti-pollution skincare routine.
Prevent Pollution Damage With Alivio Wellness
We’ve created a range of skin-friendly products to support repair and restoration from all kinds of environmental damage. Shop our all-natural, sustainable collection of skincare here.