As we all well know, we’re surrounded by air pollution. And while you may outfit your home with air purifiers and wear a face mask when you step outside, there’s no escaping the fact that air pollution is going to reach your skin and the result is not awesome. However, a thoughtful skincare program can help mitigate some of the effects of pollution.
What is air pollution?
Pollution itself is the introduction of harmful materials (aka pollutants) into the environment. Some air pollutants you can see (like car exhaust), but the majority are invisible. You don’t need to live in the center of Times Square to be exposed to air pollution. The pollutants produced by a coal-burning energy plant can travel much farther than the town housing the plant, after all.
How does air pollution impact skin?
Pollutants often have chemicals attached, which turn those airborne particulates into free radicals. This oxidative assault weakens the skin barrier and breaks down collagen fibers. It also triggers inflammation and can lead to hyperpigmentation. In addition, as a result of the compromised barrier function (which allows moisture to escape from the tissue), skin can become dehydrated. Those whose skin barriers are already stressed (think sufferers of eczema, psoriasis, or just general sensitivity) are more likely to see the detrimental impacts of air pollution on their complexions.
How do I protect my skin from air pollution?
You can’t relocate to a cave for eternity, but you can make informed decisions before you go outside. AirNow, a partnership between a number of U.S. governmental agencies, provides real-time, global air quality data on its website AirNow.gov. You can search by location to check the current air quality, which may help you determine how long you want to spend outdoors.
The second protective step you can take is to saturate your skin with antioxidants. Their job is to neutralize free radicals and prevent them from chipping away at skin-supporting collagen fibers or triggering the inflammation that can lead to more bad news (such as uneven skin tone). Of all the antioxidants in the world, vitamin C is the most powerful, most proven option. However, not all forms of vitamin C are created equal. Since the molecule itself is notoriously unstable, vitamin C needs to be formulated correctly in order to be effective. (The moral of the story here is: Buy your vitamin C skincare from a reputable source.)
What are the best vitamin C products to combat air pollution?
Without a doubt, the number one, first line of defense for any skin is the ultra-potent Dr. Dennis Gross Vitamin C Lactic 15% Vitamin C Firm & Bright Serum. With its high level of super-stable L-ascorbic acid (that’s the 15% Vitamin C part), this lightweight serum is like a suit of armor for your skin. In addition to the vitamin C, Dr. Dennis Gross Vitamin C Lactic 15% Vitamin C Firm & Bright Serum contains two more antioxidants, licorice, and vitamin E, for additional reinforcement. The presence of lactic acid, an alpha hydroxy acid, helps enhance the absorption of the rest of the ingredients.
Since dehydration can also be a side effect of exposure to air pollutants, some skin types can benefit from incorporating Dr. Dennis Gross Vitamin C Lactic Dewy Deep Cream into their routines as well. Not only does it feature vitamin C and lactic acid, Dr. Dennis Gross Vitamin C Lactic Dewy Deep Cream also contains squalene and ceramides to shore up skin’s moisture barrier.
And no comprehensive skin-protecting regimen would be complete without the addition of an effective sunscreen. A product with an SPF of at least 30 will help keep out free radicals, which makes it easier for vitamin C to address the ones that do get through effectively. Naturally, we suggest Dr. Dennis Gross All-Physical Lightweight Wrinkle Defense Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 30 for this purpose.
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