Skin Pollutants – What To Avoid to Save Face in the City

It’s sad but true – pollution is a part of life for us city dwellers. We don’t like to think too much about it, but being surrounded by the concrete jungle we call home is not the best environment for our skin. From vehicle exhaust to construction debris to sweltering subways, we have our fair share of skin irritants to fight against. But with everything that’s out there, what should we really be most worried about? Here are our top three culprits in the skin damage department and what you can do to protect against them. 

The Sun

If you’re a sun worshipper, it’s time to wise up. Those rays you love are wreaking havoc on your skin and they could end up giving you cancer too. Ultraviolet or UV rays actually break down the components of the skin such as collagen and elastin which make us look youthful and healthy. The sun also attacks melanocytes which are in charge of skin pigmentation. Think brown spots, fine lines, and wrinkles too. So what can you do? Avoiding the sun completely is unlikely, but protecting yourself from it your best defense. Stay indoors in the middle of the day when the sun is at its strongest and wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 even during the winter. If you must be in the sun, be sure to cover your face with a hat and sunglasses too.

Cigarette Smoke

If your lung health isn’t enough of a reason to quit smoking, think about what it’s doing to your skin. Cigarette smoke causes the blood vessels in your skin to constrict, which means that it can’t get vital nutrients and oxygen as easily. Since the skin can’t repair itself to stay healthy, it begins to break down faster, losing elasticity and tone. Over time, smoking will cause premature fine lines and wrinkles, especially around the mouth and eye areas where the skin is more sensitive. What about vaping? E-cigarettes are still in their infancy but the health effects are alarming. In terms of skincare, e-cigarettes contain nicotine and other chemicals that are then inhaled and exhaled as a vapor so you’re still creating a toxic environment for the skin no matter what you smoke. 

Air Pollution

You may have heard the term “free radicals’ but are unsure what it means. Free radicals are caused by pollution, smog and dust and they in the air all around us. You might remember a little bit about atoms from your high school science class, and if you don’t, here’s a quick tip: they are made from pairs of electrons. When an atom only has one electron, it’s called a free radical. And guess what? An atom that’s missing an electron isn’t happy. In fact, it comes looking for it’s missing part – in your skin. Once the skin starts losing electrons, its perfect balance starts to sway, leaving you more susceptible to premature aging. So don’t let those free radicals take away your electrons. Be sure to protect the skin with antioxidants such as Vitamin A, C, E which have extra electrons to spare. Foods such as blueberries, dark chocolate, beets, and spinach are all high in antioxidants and will help you to fight off those pesky free radicals. 

What do you worry about in the skincare department? Have a question for the Body by Brooklyn team? Reach out on Instagram or Facebook or give us a call at 718-923-9400 to consult with one of our experts. Your question could be featured in a future blog post!

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