As city dwellers, we can’t escape air pollution, but there are steps that we can take to minimise the harmful effects it has on our skin. Here, Emma Hobson, the Education Manager of Australia, New Zealand & Asia for the International Dermal Institute & Dermalogica, shares her expert advice on the matter.
How does pollution damage our skin?
Air pollution (in the form of Volatile Organic Compunds, Nitrogen Oxides and Particulate Matter) we are exposed to on a daily basis causes a breakdown in our skin’s collagen and elastin fibres, which results in what I call ‘inflammaging’ – a condition where the skin loses its lustre and elasticity and in turn leads to premature wrinkles and flaccid skin. Pollution also increases skin redness, irritation, sensitivity and dehydration, thus increasing the likelihood of breakouts, acne, hyperpigmentation and other skin inflammations.
What ingredients help to absorb pollutants and detoxify our skin?
Activated charcoal powder attracts and binds itself to impurities in the skin, drawing them out of pores. Bentonite and Kaolin clays are also fantastic at pulling out impurities and decongesting the skin. On the other hand, Red Algae and Tara Fruit Extract help preserve the skin’s natural barrier function by inhibiting the penetration and adherence of environmental pollutants. And last but not the least, Niacinamide provides anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties and prevents the adhesion of pollution particles to the skin.
How often should we exfoliate?
I recommend using Dermalogica’s Daily Superfoliant because it is gentle, effective, and, as the name suggests, is designed to be used daily as the skin’s ‘environmental detoxifier’. However, if your skin is extremely sensitive, I recommend introducing it into your routine once a week, and gradually increase the usage once your skin has acclimatised to it.
Any advice on how to manage acne-prone or sensitive skin?
My tip would be to keep your skincare routine as simple as possible. When it comes to cleansers, choose one with a mild and milky soap-free formulation. Also choose toners with calming and hydrating properties, and lightweight moisturisers with anti-inflammatory properties. If your skin tends to get red throughout the day, try using primer or moisturiser with a green tint to it as it will help to counteract any redness. Ingredients like oat kernel extract and camomile contain active components to naturally calm itchy and irritated skin.
In addition, sunscreens are absolutely essential to protect your skin from UV damage. Avoid using exfoliants with harsh microbeads. The Daily Superfoliant is a gentle alternative for sensitive skin as it is a micro-exfoliant with a base of rice bran powder, which won’t scratch or tear the surface of the skin.
List 2 of your top skincare tips.
Tip # 1: Don’t bombard your skin with too many products initially. Introduce new products especially very active ones like boosters and concentrates slowly into your skincare routine, allowing your skin to get accustomed to them.
Tip # 2: Your skin loves and benefits so much from vitamin therapy. Applying products with a cocktail of Vitamins such as A, C and E as well as the very healing Panthenol (pro vitamin B5) vitamin to keep it soft, supple and radiant.
What can we do to avoid or minimise our skin’s exposure to pollution?
Use anti-pollution/protective skin care products including moisturisers, facial mists, and exfoliate regularly. Spritz the skin liberally throughout the day with an anti-oxidant toner to neutralise all the harmful free radicals that bombard our skin and apply an SPF30+ sunscreen. Avoid going outdoors when pollution readings are high – you can visit skinpollution.com to see the current reading wherever you are in the world. Also try to minimise the amount of chemicals you use in your household.
What are your 3 skincare routine essentials?
- CLEANSING: Use cleansing oils combined with deep cleansing products and tools to ensure that all pollution particles are dislodged and removed from your skin effectively.
- EXFOLIATION: AHA’s and BHA’s keep the skin radiant, smooth, bright and clear. It’s also great at dislodging pollution debris and dirt from your pores.
- PROTECTION: Stimulate collagen and elastin growth using Retinol and Peptides in the form of a moisturiser to seal and protect the skin from the environment. This will also neutralise the effects of low level ozone and oxidation by virtue of its powerful anti-oxidants.
Dermalogica’s Daily Superfoliant retails at RM325.00 (West Malaysia) and RM335.00 (East Malaysia). Available in all authorized Dermalogica skincare centres nationwide by Esthetics International Group Berhad. Please visit bit.ly/DermStoreMY for the store locator.
Image Credit: Dermalogica, Shutterstock