Start by washing your face.
Air pollution isn’t just affecting the environment, it’s also aging your skin. Beverly Hills-based facialist Sonya Dakar (clients include Gwyneth Paltrow, Sandra Oh and Carrie Ann Inaba) sees the effects of environmental damage on her clients right away: “Air pollution can give your skin a grey and dull color. Toxins can cause skin allergies and eczema—soot and dirt collects in the outermost layer of the skin, leading to clogged pores and acne.”
Before you binge-watch global warming documentaries on Netflix and vow never to leave the house again, breathe. Your skin has built-in defense mechanisms (antioxidants!) that reduce the effects of ultraviolet and photochemical damage. But natural antioxidants can only do so much. That’s when you take matter into your own hands.
The easiest way to reduce exposure? Wash it off, even if you’ve spent most of the day indoors. “There are always particles that you don’t see on your face, even dust from a phone or computer, that can contribute to skin damage,” Dakar reminds us. Her Detox Wash is formulated with the botanical ingredients marrubium and buddleja to strengthen skin’s defenses from these everyday irritants.
Last year, Clarisonic conducted a study on air pollution and its skin-aging effects and found its Mia Facial Sonic Cleanser removes pollution 30 times better than manual cleansing. For a less expensive alternative, Konjac’s Bamboo Charcoal facial sponge removes impurities better than hands alone.
Miami- and New York-based celebrity dermatologist Fredric Brandt, MD recommends strategizing your skin care so daytime products focus on protection while nighttime ones concentrate on renewal and repair. Research has shown that antioxidants and sunscreen combined provide the best protection against the elements. In a recent study, scientists found that the SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic serum reduced the effects of oxidation from pollution as much as 77%. “Use more antioxidants and anti-inflammatory formulas in the morning. Night should be geared towards increasing collagen and elastin production,” adds Brandt, whose Glow Overnight Surfacing Cream is formulated with time-release retinol to improve cell turnover, counteract dullness, and boost collagen and elastin levels while sleeping.
Brandt is also an advocate for a healthy diet that helps fight free radical damage from the inside out. He recommends eating more antioxidant- and vitamin A- and C-rich foods (like green tea, broccoli, berries) and filling up on omega 3 foods like flaxseed and salmon for their anti-inflammatory benefits. Also try Brandt’s Detoxifying Anti-Oxidant Water Booster, a berry concentrate that you add to water for a mega-dose of potent antioxidants (equivalent to 15 cups of green tea) without any caffeine.
Another approach to combating pollution is to clean up your own environment. Keep oxygen-rich, houseplants like Bamboo Palm, Spider Palm, Peace Lily, and English Ivy at home to naturally absorb nearby air toxins—they’re NASA-tested and approved to keep air clean aboard space stations!
See? Nature always has an answer.