A handy guide to protecting your skin from pollution

The key is consistency!

Harper's Bazaar India

If you’ve happened to glance at the Air Quality Index (AQI) of various cities in India, then you know that we are living in concerning environmental conditions. Stepping out means dealing with smog, dust, and a hundred kinds of pollutants (we are talking harmful chemicals, blue light emitting from our screens, heavy metal particles, and so on). These are not only harmful to our health overall but also extremely damaging to our skin. Since there is no escaping the pollution, we just have to learn how to protect ourselves. Enter anti-pollution skincare. Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean you have to shake up your entire routine. Just making a few tweaks and sticking to your regimen can help your skin be the best version of itself. 

Below, we’ve mentioned a few tips you can follow to pollution-proof your skincare routine and keep your skin radiant and happy. 

Double cleanse 
No matter how much you change your skincare routine to better optimise your products, there is no alternative to cleansing. However, when you are exposed to harsh pollutants, simply washing your face is not enough. You need to make double cleansing an intricate part of your nighttime routine. Start with an oil- or gel-based cleanser that breaks down the day’s make-up, SPF, and any pollutants that might be on the surface of your skin. Then go in with a more potent cleanser that deep dives into your pores to clean them out effectively yet gently.  

Apply and re-apply SPF  

No matter how much we emphasise that SPF is your skin’s best friend, it will not be enough. The harmful rays of the sun can do maximum damage if your skin is unprotected. So, sunscreen is a must every single day. When shopping for sunscreen, look for one that is broad spectrum, has an SPF of at least 30, and protects against both UVA and UVB rays. This will ensure that you are protected from sun damage and other environmental pollutants. And remember, applying sunscreen once a day is not enough, so re-apply it throughout the day. 

Use products that are rich in antioxidants and strengthen the barrier 

Before you buy your skincare products, read their labels carefully. Choose the ones that are rich in antioxidants and include ingredients that strengthen the skin’s moisture barrier. 

Antioxidants such as vitamins A, C, and E play a pivotal role in neutralising free radicals that are generated by pollution and prevent them from damaging our skin cells and causing premature ageing. Pollution can also strip the skin of moisture, leaving it looking dull and drab. And so, products with ingredients like hyaluronic acid, centella asiatica, and ceramides replenish the skin’s barrier and equip it to lock moisture in.  

Exfoliate regularly  

Sometimes, exfoliation gets treated as a secondary part of our weekly skincare routine. But when it comes to protecting your skin against pollutants, it is a must. You see, a lot of the times dead skin cells trap these irritants in our pores and that leads to a host of skin concerns ranging from dry skin to frequent breakouts. And so, exfoliating occasionally (twice or thrice a week depending on your skin type and age) can deep cleanse your pores to get rid of all the pollutants and let your skin breathe.  

Be consistent 

If you’re expecting your skin to become pollution-proof overnight, you are setting yourself up for disappointment. This is not to say that if you are consistent with your skincare routines and pay a little more attention to your skin’s needs you won’t be rewarded with glowing, hydrated skin that is protected from pollutants.