The worldwide heatwave has made the air in our cities as lethargic as we are.
You can deny it all you want, but pollutants now languish at ground level or swirl into smog.
It might only be temporary, but it does shine a light on a growing global issue: air pollution and its impact on our health.
And while governments continue to ponder the problem, there’s always one place we can rely on for a somewhat faster frontline response: the beauty counter.
The director-general of the World Health Organisation has described air pollution as "one of the most pernicious threats to global public health" and alongside sun exposure, pollution has been identified as the main cause of premature ageing, increased skin sensitivity and lack of radiance.
“According to a study in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, exposure to air and particle pollution significantly correlates to an increase in signs of skin ageing,” says Sally Penford, director of education at Dermalogica.
In practice, pollution infiltrating our skin is responsible for redness, dullness, pigmentation and fine lines.
So, what can we do to prevent that?
Environmental pollution comes in multiple forms, so here’s a quick rundown of the principal nasties floating around out there. Be on your guard for solar ultraviolet radiation (UVR), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), heavy metals, nitrogen oxides (NOx), particulate matter (PM), ozone and cigarette smoke – all of which can affect our skin.
PM2.5, which is very prevalent in smog, is too large to penetrate the skin, but causes major damage to the skin's barrier function.
Choose smaller, less busy roads to walk on. Double cleanse or even triple cleanse at night to remove daily pollution and add an exfoliant to your evening regimen.
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Air purification devices have also been proven to change pollutant levels and clear skin. Should none of them provide the result you want, try out an anti-pollution skincare product twice a day.
Pixi's Vitamin-C Juice Cleaner (€20 - €24) boasts a probiotic extract, meaning it’ll help to gradually fortify smoggy city skin. Apply it with a cotton pad, as you would a micellar cleanser.
REN's Flash Defence Anti-Pollution Mist (€26) acts more like a physical barrier over the skin rather than the traditional route of high antioxidants to repair already incurred damage. It’s a naturally occurring polysaccharide gum and traps pollution particles before they touch skin and cause damage. As an additional benefit, the product also smooths the skin’s texture and sets makeup beautifully.
If you’re interested to know how much pollution you’re coming into contact with personally, Dermalogica has designed a widget that works out your pollution levels based on your location.
But, the bottom line is, protection is pretty much essential everywhere, especially when exposed to car fumes and industrial pollution.
Main image by @sukiwaterhouse