Most people I talk to are only too aware of the damage that the sun can do to their skin, so I rarely need to inform them of the benefits and importance of wearing decent sunscreen. But something people tend to be less aware of is the damage that pollution can do to their skin. I recently got sent a lovely REN Flash Defence Anti-Pollution mist and it’s a great addition to my regime and has got me thinking more about anti-pollution products. This is obviously something that people who, like me, spend most of their time in cities, need to be aware of; but the truth is that pollution (and the much talked of ‘free radicals’) can be found everywhere.
What are free radicals?
Free radicals and pollution are closely linked, which is why you’ll often hear people talking about protecting their skin from free radicals in the same breath as anti-pollution products. Free radicals are chemically-unstable nano-particles, on the hunt for electrons that will give them a more stable status. What makes them dangerous is that they snatch these electrons from other atoms, including those found in human cells; which is why they can affect your skin and lead to premature ageing. These free radicals are generated by pollution, both in obvious forms like smog and cigarette smoke, and less obvious sources like household cleaners.
What’s the answer?
Your skin is a natural barrier against pollution and free radicals, but there are ways to further limit the damage from pollutants. In short, the answer is antioxidants. Things like vitamins A, E and C provide extra electrons to keep those pesky free radicals happy; (as well as boasting a host of other benefits for your body). Choosing skincare products that are rich in antioxidants (such as those specially designed as anti-pollution skincare solutions) is a great start, as is packing your diet with antioxidant-rich foods such as blueberries, grapes, nuts, kale and broccoli.