Isn’t it annoying when you’re freshly showered but the minute you step out of the house to go to school or work, you suddenly feel sticky and grimy? In the Philippines, where the average year-round temperature is 26.6Â°C, it’s easy to blame the cause of that sticky feeling on the heat. And while that may be true, we cannot discount how pollution contributes to this.
The health effects of breathing in polluted air are well-documented. Primarily, it leads to the formation of several pulmonary diseases, which result in about 7 million premature deaths every year, according to the World Health Organization. But did you know that the polluted air you breathe in every day isn’t just bad for your lungs, but for your skin (and hair) as well?
The Effects of Pollution on Your Skin
Free-radicals from different forms of pollution cause skin damage. The most harmful source of these free-radicals is smog, which is abundant especially in crowded places like Metro Manila. The following are the kinds of skin damage you might experience with continuous exposure to polluted environments:
Polluted air contains particles of dust, pollen, soot, and other hazardous matter. These particles can be up to 20 times smaller than your pores. When these particles pass through the surface of your skin and clog your pores, it results in inflammation, which causes acne to flare.
Premature Skin Aging
The toxic nanoparticles in the air also steal oxygen from skin cells, stripping your skin of its protective barriers. This shield blocks dirt and harmful sun rays, as well as keeps vital moisture in your skin. When it becomes compromised, your skin then becomes more sensitive to harmful substances, causing premature aging.
Apart from these main problems, airborne pollutants also cause uneven and dull skin tone, enlarged pores, and dry, itchy skin. As such, it is vital to protect your skin from the effects of polluted air.
What You Can Do
While it is impossible to completely avoid the damaging effects of air pollution on the skin, there are things you can do to protect your skin as effectively as possible:
Wash Your Face Thoroughly Every Night
The first rule is to never go to bed without washing your face. With a gentle facial cleanser, you can remove surface dirt and particles, as well as makeup, from your skin. Just make sure your choice of cleanser doesn’t strip away your skin’s protective barriers.
Apply Nourishing and Protective Products Made from Natural Sources
There is a gamut of protective skin products in the market that helps keep damaging particles out while locking in skin’s moisture. The more natural the products you use, the better. Fortunately, there are different products like that in the Philippines, such as malunggay oil, which is a great antioxidant.
Load Up on Antioxidants
Using antioxidants topically is good, but it’s better to load up on these free-radical fighters in your diet, as well. Make sure you eat leafy greens and food rich in Vitamin C to combat the effects of air pollution inside your body. After all, true health should start on the inside and manifest on the outside.
Your skin is the biggest organ in your body, so you must take care of it. Be proactive by protecting your skin against the damaging effects of air pollution.