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Urban Skincare Guide: 5 Effective Ways to Reduce the Effects of Urban Pollution on Your Skin



WHO has stressed that as urban air quality declines, the risk of stroke, heart disease, lung cancer, chronic and acute respiratory diseases, including asthma, increases for the people who live in urban areas. This is sad isn’t it? Undoubtedly, one of the largest organs being affected day in day out from direct contact with urban pollutants is our SKIN... 

Our skin gets exposed to particulate matters (fly ash, soot, dust, fog, fumes etc.) of different sizes such as PM10 (coarse particles) to PM2.5 (fine particles). The concerning particulate matter to skin is definitely the PM2.5 since they are so small and light that they tend to stay longer in the air than heavier particles. This increases the chances of humans not only inhaling them but also having them pass through deep layers of the skin. 

A 2017 study in Guangzhou, China, confirmed that human skin cells exposed to dust, soot and smoke particles are more likely to undergo the formation of free radicals, DNA damage and skin cell death.

Although the human skin acts as a barrier against pollutants, prolonged exposure to their high levels can cause alterations to the barrier forming process causing premature aging as well as inflammatory skin conditions (such as atopic dermatitis and eczema).  This is because exposure to these pollutants also impairs our collagen production. That’s a double whammy on the skin isn’t it? 

How does it happen? 

More scientific evidence is showing that these pollutants seep through the hair follicles and sweat glands into the deeper layers of our skin. 

The three major reasons this reaction happens is because of free radicals induced-damage that disrupts the skin barrier. This causes the degradation of collagen production that leads to skin redness, inflammation, dryness and wrinkle formation. 

The main skin aging traits associated with PM2.5 exposure are pigment spots on forehead, wrinkles (on forehead, upper lip, back of hands) and sagging of eyelids .

The combined effects of sun exposure in tropical climates with urban pollution takes a double toll on our skin health.

5 Effective Ways to Reduce the Effects of Urban Pollution on Your Skin: 

1 .Cleanse 2-3 times a day 

Cleansing thoroughly (double cleanse where you can!) will remove the particles of pollution that can penetrate your pores and become trapped in your skin leading to inflammation and acne build-up. 

2. Anti-oxidant enriched skincare 

Consider using:  

-skincare that can scavenge on free radicals that are formed as a result of pollutants 

-skincare that can naturally boost the lymphatic system’s function that is responsible for removing toxins from the body 

-skincare that focuses on boosting the skin’s barrier function to prevent harmful pollutants from entering the skin 

3. Don’t only rely on chemical sunscreens or SPF alone 

While traditional chemical sunscreens protect against UV rays, they offer no protection from environmental pollutants or high energy visible (HEV) light a.k.a blue light. Use a sunblock (physical sunscreen) that is mineral based and works by staying on top of the skin as a barrier to block pollutants and blue light. For those who don’t like this look or easily break out with a sunblock, you may want to pair your SPF skincare with products enriched with anti-pollution extracts that strengthen your skin barrier function. 

4. Exfoliate 2-3 times a week 

Use of a gentle exfoliator on your skin 2-3 times a week to remove excess build-up of impurities from pollutants that can seep through your pores and trigger inflammation, acne and skin DNA damage. Remember not to over exfoliate and use only a gentle exfoliator. You don’t want to damage your skin barrier or dry out your natural skin oils in the process. 

5. Hydrate 

Drinking at least two liters of water per day. Hydration will not only strengthen the skin barrier but will also ensure your skin is well sealed without any “potholes” for pollutants to penetrate deeper into the skin layers where collagen production can be disrupted. Spraying a hydrating facial mist every few hours once also enables the skin to plump up and prevent the top layer of your skin from cracking and forming “potholes” for pollutants to enter. 

At Yindi, our Urbanite series consisting of the Urbanite Blue Light Protection + Hydrating Mist and Urbanite Skin Revival + Brightening Face Oil with Prickly Pear Seed Oil have been formulated with clinically proven anti-pollution extracts that have demonstrated clinical results in vitro (in lab) & in vivo (on human volunteers) to boost collagen & cement skin together to survive longer in urban environments with the effects of dust, smoke and PM2.5 .