We all know that pollution is bad...for our lungs, our health, the ozone layer and the planet. But, the dipping air quality index can also take a heavy toll on our skin.
"The effects of air pollution on the skin are severe and serious, and these air pollutants have also caused premature wrinkling and irregular skin pigmentation. Particulate matter and air pollution bind to our skin and cause vitamin depletion. It again destroys the fibres of collagen and produces free radicals that contribute to premature ageing," says dermatologist Dr Poorva Shah, Derma Centre - Skin, Hair & Laser Clinic.
If you are thinking you are safe from toxic air if you shut the window, well, not entirely. According to many studies, household dust has its own share of toxins from your cleaning supplies, cigarette smoke and the likes.
This in turn increases the sensitivity of your skin triggering a plethora of issues such as pigmentation, premature ageing and a dull complexion.
So, apart from doing our bit to reduce the carbon footprint, you also need to upgrade your lifestyle to fight pollution. According to Dr Shah, to fight the premature ageing, dullness, sensitive and itchy skin caused by pollution you need to rely on antioxidants, in your diet as well as in skincare.
"Good skincare doesn’t involve just a routine but also a diet. Antioxidants are extremely important for smokers or those living in polluted cities to destroy free radicals. A diet rich in Vitamin A, B, B5, K, C, and Folic Acid will provide you with the necessary antioxidants. You can also replenish your diet with extremely valuable antioxidant supplements such as Glutathione and Astaxanthin," she says.
While she suggests using products with Glycolic Acid and other AHAs to tackle dull skin, it is best to so under the supervision of your skin expert. These chemical exfoliants are a great way to slough away the dead skin cells and keep you looking fresh. Your dermatologist would be able to guide you to use them correctly without excaberating the skin sensitivity.
As always, cleansing your face at night and applying sunscreen during daytime continue to be the most important part of your routine.
"Using topical antioxidants and vitamins such as Vitamin C and Niacinamide helps reduce free radical damage. Using a good sunscreen daily helps reduce age spots and other pigmentation that smokers are prone to. I recommend that you alter your serums day and night as well. Use an anti-oxidant serum to support the free radical damage caused in your face by the smoke chemicals," she says.