While there's no way to completely avoid pollutants in the air and water, there are ways to minimize the effects of pollution on your skin. To maintain healthy, radiant skin, try the following:
- Moisturizer: Free radicals in the air from smog, dirt and dust deplete the oxygen in skin cells, causing damage. In addition, chlorine in tap water dries out the skin, which can lead to the development of fine lines and wrinkles. A good moisturizer hydrates the skin and creates a barrier between your skin and free radicals and other pollutants.
- Sunscreen: Pollution causes damage to the ozone layer, which increases the effects of free radicals and UV radiation on the skin. Overexposure to UV radiation can cause wrinkles and even skin cancer [source: American Melanoma Foundation]. You should wear sunscreen on your face and neck every day to protect your skin from damage -- even on cloudy days.
- Supplements: Vitamin C and antioxidants fight free radicals in the body, working to prevent and reverse damage to your skin. If you don't get enough vitamin C in your diet, take a daily multivitamin or a vitamin C supplement [source: WebMD].
- Cleansers and Exfoliants: To remove air pollutants from your skin, wash your face daily and exfoliate twice a week. You can even use mineral water to avoid the potentially damaging effects of chlorine in tap water [source: Leffell, Orlow].
- Water: Drinking plenty of water each day helps keep your skin hydrated and your body healthy by generating cell growth and improving circulation.
It's impossible to completely avoid air and water pollution, but by following these simple steps, you can reduce the damage pollution causes to your skin. To learn more about how to protect your skin from pollution, check out the links on the following page.
Related HowStuffWorks Articles
- American Melanoma Foundation. "Facts about Melanoma." (Accessed 9/2/2009) http://www.melanomafoundation.org/facts/Facts.htm
- Bouchez, Colette. "Banish the Bags Under Your Eyes." July 21, 2009. (Accessed 9/2/2009). http://women.webmd.com/features/banish-the-bags-under-your-eyes
- Davis, Jeanie. "How Antioxidants Work." (accessed 9//2009) http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/how-antioxidants-work1
- Gibson, Lawrence, E., M.D. "Is it True that Smoking Causes Wrinkles?" (Accessed 9/2/2009). http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/smoking/AN00644
- Leffell, David, M.D. Personal Interview. August 20, 2009.
- New York Department of Health. "The Facts About Chlorine." (Accessed 8/19/09) http://www.health.state.ny.us/environmental/emergency/chemical_terrorism/docs/chlorine_general.pdf
- Orlow, Seth, M.D. Personal Interview. August 20, 2009.
- Reuters. "Is Air Pollution Aging Your Skin?" July 25, 2008. (Accessed 9/02/2009) http://www.reuters.com/article/pressRelease/idUS102904+25-Jul-2008+BW20080725
- WebMD. "Choosing Skin Care Products: Know Your Ingredients." (Accessed 9/2/2009) http://www.webmd.com/skin-beauty/cosmetic-procedures-products-2
- WebMD. "How Skin Ages." (Accessed 9/2/2009) http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/effects-of-aging-on-skin
- WebMD. "Vitamin C May Fight Rheumatoid Arthritis." (Accessed 9/2/2009) http://www.webmd.com/rheumatoid-arthritis/news/20040609/vitamin-c-may-fight-rheumatoid-arthritis