How To Protect Your Skin Against Pollution

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Daily living involves many assaults upon your skin and while we tend to focus a lot on sun protection, other factors, like pollution, are also at play. Researchers are increasingly paying attention to pollution and how long-term exposure to pollution plays a major role in premature signs of aging.

Pollution is a global danger and is a growing concern in many countries. Some pollution includes carcinogens (cancer-causing agents), and some pollution has other detrimental effects on our organs, especially our lungs and eyes. Sunscreen isn’t enough, because while it will help to protect skin from sun exposure, it can’t protect it from the effects of pollution. Thankfully, options exist and skin can be protected from the aging effects of pollution (at least to some extent) with antioxidants.

Antioxidants in skin care are one of the most powerful anti-aging ingredients because they can intercept or block free-radical damage caused by pollution (as well as by the sun and the air we breathe, as oxygen also causes free-radical damage). Research on this topic is limited and ongoing, but we do know that there are dozens of potent, stable antioxidants that can slow pollution’s assault on your skin. One single ingredient can’t do the job, so don’t get caught up in the hype of finding the “best” antioxidant—it doesn’t exist. Instead, there are lots of good ones, so the more, the merrier!

Not Just During the Day

At PhaMix, we like to include antioxidants in our day and night routines. Skin damaging free radicals from pollution are around day or night so it’s important to apply antioxidants both in the morning and at night. Free radical damage can result in the destruction of collagen, the production of abnormal skin cells and affect how your skin looks and acts. As we get older, our skin becomes less effective at producing defenses against the environment so antioxidants become even more important.

During the morning, apply antioxidants along with your sunscreen where it will boost sun protection and fight against damage from pollution. At night, antioxidants will do battle against pollution and other environmental stressors. Here are some of the best ones to consider:

1. Vitamin E. Often listed as tocopherol or tocotrienols, Vitamin E is one of the most well-known antioxidants. It works in several different ways to protect cell membranes from oxidative damage and from the early stages of ultraviolet light damage. It also works in powerful synergy with vitamin C.

2. Vitamin C (L-ascorbic acid, magnesium ascorbyl phosphate, among others) is a potent antioxidant that is backed by a lot of research to demonstrate its efficacy in increasing collagen production, strengthening the skin’s barrier system, reducing inflammation and protecting against UV exposure – working in tandem with your sunscreen. It works well to help fight against wrinkles, dullness, and brown spots. We love it!

3. Resveratrol. Found in red grapes, red wine, nuts, and fruits, resveratrol can help protect against sun damage, improve collagen production, and reduce cell damage. It also has significant anti-inflammatory properties so may be particularly beneficial if you have acne, rosacea or eczema.

4. Retinoids. Derivatives of vitamin A, retinoids are a super star anti-aging ingredient. Acting as a cell communication agent, it is also an antioxidant and should be part of your skin care routine if you are interested in keeping your skin looking younger and healthier. Retinoids help skin create newer, younger and healthier skin cells. It increases the production of collagen for firmer, better textured skin. As an added bonus, it has been shown to reduce breakouts and fade dark spots. You can find retinoids as prescription only retinoic acid, or OTC retinol, retinaldehyde and retinyl palmitate.

5. Green Tea. This potent antioxidant contains epigallocatechin-3 gallate (EGCG), which when applied topically, can prevent collagen breakdown and reduce UV damage to the skin. It is also very good at reducing inflammation.

Antioxidants Work Best Together

The 5 antioxidants listed above are all effective. But they work best when combined together. Apply a Vitamin C serum like Apothekari Bespoke Vitamin C 10 or 15% Serum daily under your sunscreen to deliver a boost of Vitamins C, E and a host of additional antioxidants. Use a retinoid at night. We love Apothekari A is for Anti-Aging, which is formulated with retinaldehyde to deliver excellent anti-aging and antioxidant benefits in a gentle form.

Antioxidants can be your best defense against pollution.  No need to live in a bubble!


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