Monday, December 6, 2021
FeaturesProtect your skin and hair from pollution

Protect your skin and hair from pollution

Published: 6th Nov 2020 3:50 pm

When India had shut down in the month of March in a desperate bid to flatten the curve of coronavirus cases, the skies over its polluted cities quickly turned an azure blue, and the air, unusually fresh.

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The Metropolitan Indians rejoiced over spotless, pollution-free, blissful skies celebrating the city’s “alpine weather”. The pollution level in cities came down by 80% during the lockdown mainly owing to halt in human activities, trains, planes, automobiles and factories which improved air quality index dramatically in the majority of Indian cities.

But now as government slowly eased Covid-19 lockdown norms to restore back normalcy, pollution is peaking once again further slipping back air quality to unhealthy level despite of various steps taken by Govt authorities to sustain the air quality level seen during the lockdown. Sadly, it’s not just the lungs and heart that are vulnerable to air pollution. The skin takes some abuse as well. Daily exposure to pollution dramatically impacts skin’s health and appearance.

Various air pollutants such as ultraviolet radiation, poly cyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, volatile organic compounds, oxides, particulate matter, ozone and cigarette smoke affect the skin as it is the outermost barrier. Second, only to the sun, pollution is the biggest aggressor when it comes to ageing your skin.

Regular reports on increasing pollution levels, deteriorating air quality, depleting ozone layer has increased the demand for anti-pollution creams and formulations in the beauty industry.

The biggest concern is an increase in hyper pigmentation, but that’s not all. Particulate matter can also clog pores, compromise skin function and even lead to premature signs of ageing, dull and fatigued skin including lines and loss of firmness. Environmental aggressors such as traffic fumes, cigarette smoke and UV light can leave the complexion more susceptible to irritation, rashes, eczema and breakouts.

Pollution hurts your skin’s barrier function by breaking down collagen and the lipids contained within it. Once this barrier is compromised, lipids and collagen (responsible for delivering hydration and plumpness to the skin) start to break down and the complexion suffers. Small nanoparticles in the form of dirt, dust or soot can enter and negatively impact your skin cells leading to an increase in dry patches, spots and an overall lack of glow.

Chemical pollutants also disrupt the normal balances of the skin and scalp, leading to problems like dryness, sensitivity, rashes, acne, irritation or allergic reactions, dandruff and related conditions. They also make the skin and hair dull, lacking vitality.

Cleansing of the skin assumes more importance in order to get rid of the impurities and pollutants that are deposited on the skin. If you have a dry skin, use a cleansing cream or gel. For oily skins, cleansing milk or face wash may be used. For oily skin, also use a facial scrub after cleansing.

Look out for products with ingredients like sandalwood, eucalyptus, mint, neem, tulsi, aloe vera, etc., when you buy cleansers. The anti-toxic and tonic properties of such ingredients have helped in clearing the skin congestion and eruptions that result from exposure to chemical pollutants. Aloe vera, for example, is also a powerful moisturiser and an anti-oxidant.

So are ingredients like apricot kernel oil, carrot seed, wheat germ oil, etc, the skin needs to be protected. If the skin is prone to eruptive conditions like acne, pimples, rash, it should be protected with specialised creams that not only protect but also reduce oiliness and deal with the problem.

If you are buying market cleansers manufactured by beauty companies then avoid cleansers containing Sodium lauryl sulphate and sodium Laureth sulphates or denatured alcohols as they dry out the skin and can damage our skin barrier over time.

After cleansing, wipe the skin with a rose-based skin tonic or rose water, to complete the cleansing process and refresh the skin. Soak cotton wool in chilled rose water and tone the skin with it, patting briskly.

It also improves blood circulation to the skin surface and adds a glow. Green tea also makes a good skin toner. If there is a rash or eruptions, add a little rose water to sandalwood paste and apply on the face. Wash off with plain water after 15 minutes.

The hair also needs frequent washing if one regularly travels long distances for their work. Pollutants also collect on the scalp. Shampoo, hair rinses, serums and conditioners help to restore the normal balances if they contain ingredients like amla, brahmi, trifala, bhringaraj and henna. They also coat the hair and form a protective cover. Mix one teaspoon each of vinegar and honey with one egg. Massage the mixture lightly into the scalp. Leave on for half an hour and then wash the hair. Rinse well with water or, give the hair hot oil therapy.


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