Anti-pollution skincare, because you can't hide indoors forever
Essential reading if you live in a city
Get out your Hazmat suits. The silver lining is not on the cloud, but more likely snaking around a hazardous blob of smog. According to a Greenpeace report that came out earlier this year, 15 out of 20 of the most polluted cities in the world are in India. Gurugram, the gleaming metropolis with shiny Fortune 500 companies has earned the ignominious title of being the world’s most polluted city, and Delhi, the world’s most polluted capital. But don’t choke with disbelief quite yet — there are anti-pollution skin care and hair care measures that you can adopt to prevent your surroundings from having a long-lasting impact.
It is said that urban dust contains a cocktail more fearsome than the Molotov variety: 224 toxic chemicals. This can lead to premature ageing and skin conditions such as acne, hives and eczema. Pollution attacks your skin in insidious ways with free radicals that can break down otherwise healthy skin cells. Hair, which is usually unprotected from the sun and the noxious fumes, can show signs of dryness, itchy scalp, breakage and excessive fall. But worry not, we spoke to four skin and hair care experts who tell us how we can mitigate the effects of pollution.
Dr. Jamuna Pai, SkinLab
Celebrity skincare expert and cosmetic physician Dr Jamuna Pai has worked with Miss India contestants for over two decades. According to her, the easiest way to minimise skin damage is to use creams with antioxidants to protect cells from the damage caused by free radicals. Whether taken orally as a supplement, applied topically or taken as food, antioxidants slow the impact of environmental damage from the sun, pollution, or just through the very air we breathe.
The night is the time to rejuvenate your skin and reverse the damage. Your night cream should contain various collagen-stimulating proteins such as soy protein, advanced peptide complexes such as Matrixyl 3000 and strong antioxidants such as Vitamin A/Retinol. While the active ingredients work wonderfully on your skin as you sleep, it can dry it out too. To prevent this, she recommends using a moisturiser or a night cream to repair and hydrate your skin.
Prevention and protection are the best cure. Besides free radicals being produced by the exposure to environmental pollution, the other culprits include fluorescent lights and light emitted from various screens: cell phones, computer screens, etc. So, sunscreen in the morning and antioxidants should be a key part of your anti-pollution skincare arsenal.
She recommends the OxyBlast treatment which uses oxygen to heal and nourish stressed-out skin. A potent combination of 99.5 per cent pure oxygen and vitamins are infused into the skin, followed by a facial massage and a brightening mask. Check skinlab.in
Nandeeta Manchandaa, Enn’s Closet
Founder of organic herbal makeup label Enn’s Closet, Nandeeta Manchandaa believes that you need to reduce inflammation and collagen damage to prevent accelerated ageing. End the day with a generous dose of activated charcoal-enriched products. The activated charcoal deeply cleans your pores and sloughs off dirt and grime from the top three layers of your skin.
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Layering is an essential step in anti-pollution skincare. She recommends creating a protective layer using a toner, serum, moisturiser and sunscreen to form a barely-there, yet efficient barrier between the pollutants and skin. Switch to natural, chemical-free products so that the ingredients don’t penetrate into the bloodstream and cause harm in the long run. Natural and active ingredients in the products will not let pollutants penetrate the pores. Also, don’t forget to slather on sunscreen.
The skin needs a second line of defence that acts like a natural barrier. Stay refreshed all day by using face mists and toners which are stored in the fridge. You can rub ice cubes or frozen aloe vera cubes to soothe irritated and inflamed skin. Spritzing rosewater at regular intervals helps rejuvenate tired and dull complexions.
Pre-game Rosewater Face Mist, Black Friyay Activated Charcoal Face wash, UV Film SPF 40 Tinted Sun Protection. Ennscloset.com
Vivek Sahni, Kama Ayurveda
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Rose; Shatapatri; the 100-petalled ancient flower, so called for the whorl after whorl that descends into an enigmatic, invisible spiral of fragrance is placed on a high pedestal in Ayurveda for its Sattvic Nature, helps heal Sadhaka Pitta, that governs emotional wellbeing, the heart & the timely processing of emotions.
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Kama Ayurveda promotes solution-based products for skin and hair problems, so it makes sense that co-founder Vivek Sahni believes the first thing we need to tackle is the quality of water. He suggests installing a hard water purifying filter, especially in polluted areas.
Skin and hair care ritual
He recommends exfoliating your skin once a week or twice a week and moisturising it, following up with a powerful sunscreen. Don’t wash your hair with shampoo more than five times a week, but rinse daily with plain water, rubbing your scalp gently.
Sesame oil also works as a good sun protector and hydrator. Slather some oil on your body and also rub two drops of oil with rose water on to your face.
Kama Ayurveda Natural Sun Protection, Rose Water, Organic Sesame Oil.
Kavita Khosa, PUREARTH
With a background in Ayurveda and organic skincare science, Kavita Khosa founded PUREARTH, a responsible luxury skincare and wellness brand. She recommends simple antipollution skincare rituals like cleansing, masking and nourishing the skin with oil massages to stave off pollution and bring back luminosity and natural radiance.
To counter the build-up of grime and toxins, oil, cleanse and mask your skin every day. Oil cleansing works on the principle of “like attracts like” and lifts away dirt and dust from the skin that mingles with sweat and sebum throughout the day. Follow it up with an ubtan or herb powder mask with water, milk or curd and let sit on your skin for a few minutes (do not let it dry), before exfoliating. She also suggests using a mask with mitti, or soil. Their mukhalepam (facepack) is composed of raw honey (a powerful natural cleanser and humectant), clays that are kashaya (astringent) and draw out heavy metal toxins, and Ayurvedic herbs like manjishtha and licorice.
She loves face mists and has created a three-step routine to refresh, nourish and cleanse your skin on the go. Generously spritz your face with the mist, then apply a face oil over your wet face. Wipe the skin with a soft muslin cloth to remove any residual debris.
Wild Rose Himalayan Mist, Illumine Face Elixir, Mitti Face Masque, Kapas Organic Muslin Face Cloth.
Stylist: Divya Gursahani; Hair: Krisann Figueiredo; Makeup: Riddhima Sharma; Model: Rakshitha Harimurthy/Faze
Blouse and sari; both Badaam