How to protect your skin against air pollution
Air pollution obviously isn't great for our skin, but we didn't know just how bad it could be until Sydney started enduring the longest stretch of it on record.
Honestly, with everything that's going on in Australia right now, the effect it's having on our skin is inconsequential.
But if you've been wondering, as we have, how exactly smoke pollution has been affecting your skin, as well as how to counteract the damage, we consulted Biologi’s Dermal Specialist, Lucy Kuper, for an expert opinion.
Can air pollution from smoke negatively effect our skin?
"Yes, it can have the ability to affect our skin, however, to understand this better, let’s consider the type of air quality we’re dealing with. Typically, experts worry the most about small particles or ultrafine particulate matter (PM) less than 2.5 micrometres (called PM2.5). This particulate matter can penetrate deep into the lungs, however it also has a myriad of other effects on our bodies and our skin.
Unfortunately, the particulate matter that we’re dealing with from the bush fires is PM2.5. Whilst our skin typically acts as a shield against pro-oxidative chemicals and air pollutants, prolonged exposure to pollutant air can have varying effects.
Exposure to air pollution can disturb the skin barrier function and diminish its protective ability of the skin. Problems can then arise when exposure to environmental stressors exceeds the skin's normal defensive potential. This can reveal itself in prematurely ageing of the skin or can cause flare ups of skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis, dermatitis, acne, or worse – skin cancer."
Should we be limiting our time outside at the moment?
"Absolutely, if you can!"
What products should we be wearing during the day to minimise damage?
"Unfortunately, it is almost impossible to stop the oxidisation effects of pollution in the air, regardless of what brands might try to tell you. However, you can minimise the effects by keeping your epidermis healthier.
The skin’s epidermis is the protective layer on top, which is made up of mainly of keratin and is waterproof to an extent. Keeping your epidermis healthy is the best way to stop pollution affecting your skin.
Simply feed your skin with nutrients and don’t apply products that can in fact damage it, allowing the pollution in. We recommend a nutrient rich serum like Biologi’s Bd Face Luminosity Serum. The Bd Serum contains tartaric acid, which is a natural fruit acid that stimulates cell growth to modulate skin barrier function. This serum also contains anthocyanin which is a flavonoid that reduces DNA damage, improves mitochondrial functionality, provides protection from UV radiation and promotes new cell growth for a bright, even complexion.
Also don’t forget to apply sunscreen before heading outside."
What products should we be wearing at night to help our skin recover from the air pollution?
"Again, this is more of a case of avoiding products that will damage the skin’s barrier function, whilst feeding your skin with the nutrients it needs.
Opt for natural products that are going to be gentle on the skin without any abrasive qualities. Try Biologi’s new Br Organic Rosehip Oil which delivers a potent synergy of oil soluble actives required for skin health and is gentle enough to use on sensitised skin types but powerful enough to achieve maximum results. The oil is best used as an evening routine as it will rejuvenate the skin overnight."
How should our cleansing routine look different to make sure we’re properly cleaning our skin?
"It could be worthwhile implementing a double cleanse at night time. So you might choose a gentle cleanser, followed by an oil cleanser to wipe away any excess residue."
Lucy's top 3 tips for avoiding extreme air pollution:
- "Avoid any harsh abrasive products that can damage the skin’s epidermis like drying alcohols or harsh essential oils."
- "Avoid products containing anything alkaline as this can interfere with the skin’s ability to repair itself. This means watching out for super foamy and lathery face washes as there’s a good chance they will be alkaline."
- "Avoid routines like the 10 step routine because this can wreak havoc on the skin’s acid mantle because of all the detrimental ingredients."
In essense, Lucy believes "Basically, this is the best time to strip your skincare routine back and be kinder to your skin. So cleanse thoroughly, exfoliate once a week with an enzymatic exfoliant and apply natural plant-based ingredients and wear sunscreen – that’s all your skin needs!"
Do you change anything in your skincare routine when the air is polluted?
*This article has been updated since its original publication date.
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