Your Skin's Reaction To Pollution

Someone is making lemonade out of lemons, You may have heard about the smog problem in China. You may also know that many Chinese have taken to wearing face masks in order to protect themselves from inhaling the toxic air.  But did you know that some of these fashion masks  are now qualifying as haute couture?   In an effort to make the most out of a bad situation, designer Yin Peng paraded his models on the cat walk sporting these life-saving accessories.There were route masks to go with hooded designs, safety goggles for men and even gas masks featuring bright pink mouthpieces.

Face masks are becoming more and more common these days in many countries around the world.  Should we all be wearing them?

What Is Pollution Doing To My Skin
Air pollution robs skin cells of oxygen, causing the skin to look dull and sag.  It also increases the number of free radicals in the air, which become more difficult to fight as the body ages.  This, combined with UV radiation decreases collagen production and skin uses elasticity.  This brings the appearance of fine lines and gives skin a rougher texture.

Indoor and Outdoor Pollutants
While most of us recognize the dangers of pollution in the outdoors, many of us are not aware that we can be just as susceptible to the effects of pollution inside the home.  Your stove, fireplace, and particles from pressed wood products and foam installation have all been connected with dry skin, skin irritations, and rashes.  If you feel that your skin may be a target for indoor sources of pollution, try improving ventilation, opening windows, keeping humidity low and avoiding products with formaldehyde.

Outdoor pollutants erode the ozone layer, exposing people to ultraviolet radiation that can lead to skin cancer.  Pollutants and free radicals can also be absorbed directly through your skin, damaging the cells and causing diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

How Can I Avoid It
While a face mask is always an option, it is understood that it might not be for everyone.  Here are some other options:

Face Cleansing 101
Would it surprise you to know that most of us don’t wash out faces properly?  Dr. Erin Gilbert,MD and assistant professor of dermatology at the State University of New York, has some tips for getting it right. In the a.m., use a mild cleanser.  Only people with oily skin need to get anything more powerful.  at night, you need to get really deep to get rid of that film of pollutants that has been forming on your face during the day.  You need to get everything off without irritating your skin.  The solution?  Use the same face wash from the a.m., but combine an electric brush to more effectively remove impurities,  Finish by soaking a cotton pad with toner and wiping your skin with it.

When pollutants infiltrate your skin, the can poke holes in your collagen, which can cause hyperpigmentation and fine lines.  Free radicals can also exacerbate the effects of rosacea and acne and, most distressingly, DNA and cell mutation that can lead to cancer.  Antioxidants can neutralize the effects.  David McDaniel,MD suggests a layer of serum with antioxidants after cleansing and eating antioxidant-rich foods like blueberries, leafy greens, and beans

Create a Barrier
Apply an SPF daily to protect yourself.  Those best able to fight pollution include antioxidants, so make sure to look for this on the label.

With proper cleaning, sunscreen, and antioxidants, you should be fine, but if this sounds like too much work, there may be a Yin Peng gas mask in your size.