While focusing on sun protection, we usually forget another major skin culprit: Pollution. Think smog. Dirt. Dust. Car exhaust. Industrial emissions. Heavy metals. Household vapours. Cigarette smoke. And so much more that doesn’t just damage the ozone layer but also wreaks havoc on our complexions, along with being practically impossible to avoid. In fact, science reveals that pollution is the second most harmful element for skin, after the sun.
1. Pollutants play a double whammy by depleting our skin’s protective antioxidants and increasing the number of free radicals in the air. This makes skin at least thrice more vulnerable to damage, peppering it with premature fine lines and wrinkles, acne, rashes, eczema, discolouration and dullness.
2. Pollution also dehydrates the skin and depletes its natural oils. When this happens, our skin cells contract and lose shape, so they can no longer create a strong protective barrier. A weak barrier causes increased skin sensitivity, chronic inflammation and vulnerability to infections, allergies and acne.
3. Besides this, pollution decreases the production of collagen, causing skin to lose elasticity. This leads to sagging, a rough texture, fine lines and premature ageing.
Doesn’t cleansing help?
While washing your face at night is sacrosanct, simply fingers and soap may not get the job done. Most common pollutants are made up of particles that are 20 times smaller than a pore, so they lodge deep within the skin. Harsher soaps and exfoliators may do more harm than good by throwing off pH levels and compromising skin’s natural barrier.
So, how do we deal with the damage?
Short of living in a bubble, there isn’t much you can do to prevent pollutants from invading your skin. However, with the proper routine, you can mitigate its effects and keep your skin glowing through the haze.
And all you need is some spirulina, which is easily and cheaply available at most local food stores. This blue-green algae is a skin (and body) superfood that can help rejuvenate and repair damaged skin because:
- It is one of the richest sources of antioxidants
- It helps the skin retain moisture
- It’s high chlorophyll content helps deep cleanse the skin, while also strengthening tissues
- It destroys acne-causing bacteria
- It soothes and calms the skin, dialling down on sensitivity and inflammation
enough filtered water to make a paste
1. Mix together the sprirulina powder and water till you have a paste
2. Apply this paste to freshly washed skin; leave on for 20 minutes, then wash away with warm water
3. Follow with your regular moisturiser
Try and do this 2-3 times a week, for optimum effects
How’s your daily battle with pollution? Good, bad or downright ugly?