Whether you’re living in the city, the suburbs, or in the countryside, pollutants follow you everywhere you go. The American Lung Association reports that roughly 135 million people (about 40% of all people!) living in the United States are exposed to extremely high levels of dangerous particles and air pollutants. Pollution is often known for negatively affecting our environment and bodies, and research has also shown that these pollutants create free-radicals that can wreak havoc on the skin. This free radical damage results in premature skin aging, skin inflammation, and the disruption of the skin’s moisture barrier. A preventive, anti-pollution skincare routine is crucial to combating free radicals and maintaining healthy, plump, and elastic skin.
Laura Cline, Youth to the People’s Senior Director of Product Development + Education, is here to drop some expert gems on what products you need to create the perfect pollution-proof skincare routine.
Follow this routine for hydrated, healthy looking and feeling skin that’s fortified against pollutant damage.
According to Cline, establishing a skincare routine that is rich in antioxidants and vitamins is key to protecting your skin and improving the look and feel of skin.
“Antioxidants serve as a buffer between the free radicals and your healthy skin cells to help prevent and slow down premature signs of aging,” says Cline. An ideal anti-pollution skincare routine should include a cleanser, exfoliant, hydrating serum, moisturizer, and sunscreen.
First things first, cleanse.
“Cleansing your skin is such an important step,” says Cline. “You want to make sure you’re removing anything that is sitting on top of the skin or right in the pores.” Removing dead skin cells and residue also helps with effectively retaining moisture from your serums and moisturizers because they can be applied to a clean canvas. Washing your face with the antioxidant-rich Superfood Cleanser twice a day (morning and night) will give your skin the ultimate cleanse without stripping it of its natural oils.
“When you have a moisture barrier that's free of a lot of built-up, dull and rough dead skin cells, your moisture barrier will be stronger and more intact,” says Cline. Like cleansing, exfoliating the face helps create a clean canvas for moisturizing products to penetrate better and yield maximum results. Cline’s pick is Youth to the People’s Yerba Mate Resurfacing Energy Facial, which uses enzymes from pineapple and papaya to disintegrate dead skin cells in two minutes. “It does a two step equation where the enzymes will first break down those dead cells, then you manually exfoliate with the diatomaceous earth that's in the product, and then you rinse it off,” says Cline. This fast-acting treatment can be used up to three times a week.
Apply a Hydrating Serum of Your Choice
“Vitamin C is a multi-beneficial and amazing antioxidant that helps with brightening and firming the skin,” says Cline. Studies have shown that incorporating vitamin C into your daily skincare routine can improve your skin barrier and reduce dark spots caused by scarring and sun damage. Youth to the People’s 15% Vitamin C + Caffeine Energy Serum is supercharged with antioxidants extracted from dragon fruit and passion fruit, helps even skin tone, reduce appearance of hyperpigmentation, and firm the skin for a more youthful appearance. You can apply this during the daytime to reduce any puffiness and add a dose of anti-pollutant antioxidants to the skin.
Cline also recommends using the Triple Peptide + Cactus Oasis Serum to protect your skin in a multitude of ways.
“Not only does the Oasis Serum have a lot of antioxidants from organic cactus stem, but it also has malachite, which is a really cool mineral that's rich in copper,” says Cline. “It also serves as a preventive step too because it has peptides that encourage your skin’s structure and skin cells to really function at their highest potential.”
Lock in that hydration from your favorite serum with a lightweight moisturizer. The Superfood Air-Whip Moisture Cream is packed with superfood antioxidants that help replenish and rebalance your skin’s moisture barrier. Cline explains that having a healthy moisture barrier helps inhibit environmental aggressors, such as air pollution, UV rays, cigarette smoke, and metal emissions in order to maintain the skin’s health. For best results, apply a dime-sized dollop of the Superfood Air-Whip Moisture Cream onto your skin twice a day after applying your serum(s).
Here Comes the Sun(screen)
It is super important to wear sunscreen all times of the year, no matter what your skin type or complexion is. We are constantly exposed to UVA and UVB rays, even on cloudy or snowy days. Ultraviolet rays can easily reflect off of windows, glass, and even snow. The overexposure of UV rays, without using sunscreen, can gradually lead to long term skin issues such as sunburn, premature aging, irreversible skin damage, and an increased risk for skin cancer.
“Even if you're not burning from a UVB ray, UVA rays do break down collagen and the elasticity and the structure of your skin,” says Cline. “In a year's time you might not notice it as much, but in a couple of years, you might start noticing its effects.” The sooner you use sunscreen (and reapply it regularly during the day), the sooner it can help your skin combat the damaging sun damage and improve overall skin health.
Written by Jasely Molina for Youth To The People