The Invisible Damage: Air Pollution And The Effect It Is Having On Your Skin

Although you cannot see it every single day our skin is being exposed to harmful chemicals in the atmosphere in the form of pollution. All around us the air is full of particulate matter, nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds, traffic fumes, tobacco smoke and a vast array of other chemicals caused by urbanisation. The WHO estimates that 88% of us live in urban spaces where air pollution standards are not met. And we know that pollution has an impact on our skin health and our also our general. Studies have shown that city dwellers exposed to pollution age faster that those in rural areas. City dwellers also have more issues with pigmentation, skin barrier function and skin sensitivities/allergies.

The most widely researched theory behind air pollution and skin is that exposure results in intracellular damage caused by free radicals and oxidative stress. This break down in the skins natural barrier function limits the skin cells ability to divide to repair themselves. In other words pollution injures the skin via free radical damage to cells, which is like a form of biological rusting. Free radicals rob skin cells of oxygen and as we age our ability to combat them diminishes.. Air pollution also triggers premature collagen breakdown which causes the formation of fine lines and wrinkles and even volume loss. The damage does not stop at premature ageing. Chemical levels in the atmosphere have also been linked to chronic skin problems such as dermatitis and eczema, allergies, psoriasis, acne and skin cancer. When we cleanse our skin morning and night we remove make-up, dirt, oils and some of the debris caused by pollution. Protecting, cleansing, detoxifying and rehydrating our skin is therefore vital in order to minimise the damage done. Air pollution can cause the depletion of vitamins and antioxidants in skin cells which reduces healthy cell function. Living in a highly polluted area such as a busy city of course increases the levels of air pollution you are exposed to. But it isn’t all doom and gloom, there are several ways you can increase your chances of counteracting the damage.

Help! What can I do? The four core principles of ZENii are to Protect, Nourish, Fortify and Repair. Using these principles we will break down what steps you can proactively take to reduce the ageing & damaging effect of air pollution.

Protect: Cleansing is one of the most important steps to protect your skin from pollution. It removes makeup, dirt, oil, cellular debris and particulate matter. No daily skin routine is complete without cleansing daily. It is such a crucial step in your skincare regime that it is always recommended to double cleanse morning and night to ensure all debris is removed.

We recommend: Our chamomile and papaya foaming cleanser removes debris from the surface and hydrates with orange oil and Vitamin E to leave your skin glowing. It contains papain, which is an enzyme from papaya that natural and gently exfoliates the skin. We also recommend our Q10 antioxidant toner which has CoEnzyme Q10 (an antioxidant) and gentle botanicals. This aqua based antioxidant toner helps reduce particulate matter and neutralises harmful free radicals in the skin. Another way to protect the skin from the effects of pollution is to use a daily antioxidant. Antioxidant serums will help shield your skin from environmental toxins, chemicals and pollution. They work by neutralising free radical damage and minimising the impact that pollution has on the skin.

We recommend: ZENii antioxidant power serum with 20% L ascorbic acid, 1% Vitamin E, 2% Niacinamide,1% Ferulic acid & 0.5% Panthenol (B5). It is a powerful antioxidant that is one of the highest calibre antioxidants on the market. Our medical director Dr Johanna Ward says that “L absorb acid is the gold standard of antioxidants and is a high impact skin protector with huge amounts of research and science supporting its efficacy. It is an incredible ingredient for those serious about skin health and anti-ageing”. Another protective measure is to protect your skin from UV radiation with a high factor sun protector. Exposure to UV radiation exacerbates the impact of air pollutants on the skin. Whilst it is important to protect the skin from the sun’s damaging rays it is important not to block out the sun totally, because we all need to get adequate vitamin D. UVB exposure is required for vitamin D production. If you do not take enough vitamin D on a daily basis then we highly recommend a high strength Vitamin D3 supplement such as our Sunshine Bottled.

Nourish: The skin is an important barrier that protects us from toxins in the outside world. It shields us against sun damage, pollution, bacteria, viruses, toxic chemicals & many other foreign substances. An intact & healthy skin barrier keeps particulate matter and pollution from penetrating the skin and causing irritation. Feeding your skin the essential micronutrients it needs is a great way of preserving the skin’s barrier function.

We recommend: ZENii Micronutrient Night Cream helps you regain balance and hydration in your skin and provides all the skin nutrients that your skin needs to heal and repair from the days cellular insults. It has Vitamin C for collagen support, Vitamin E for healing and repair, gentle retinols (Vitamin A) to boost skin cell turnover & maintain barrier function and hyaluronic acid for cellular rehydration. It gives your skin all the tools it needs to maintain a strong barrier function helps replenish all the nourishment that has been depleted throughout the day.

Fortify: Hydrating your skin morning & evening and protecting from transepidermal water loss helps strengthen the skin’s barrier function. Liquid hydrators are a must to restore water loss caused by pollution and for the best results there is no match for Hyaluronic Acid.

We recommend: Hyaluronic Booster Serum is a gel like hydrator to be used morning and night, locked in with a moisturiser. It has been the best kept secret of flawless celebrity skin for years and now it is on the radar of skin geeks globally. There are several versions of hyaluronic acid available, of which the most effective is Sodium Hyaluronate which is the main ingredient in our booster serum.

One step further: Cell Sense Exfoliating Polish removes dead skin cells from the surface leaving new cells to shine through and create a natural glow. Thorough exfoliation will help remove impurities and aid skin detoxification as well as encouraging improved cell turnover. With glycolic acid and zinc oxide it helps draw out impurities, oil, dirt & grime and stimulates the skin to rejuvenate & repair.

Repair: One of the best ways to allow the skin to repair is to use a well formulated night cream. Our skin heals and repairs most at night. Thats why they call it Beauty Sleep! Our Micronutrient night cream contains all the micronutrients needed by the skin to combat the days cellular insults. In addition, many skin lovers use retinol to help boost collagen, skin cell turnover and to keep the skin behaving like a young skin. We like to think of retinol as the equivalent of interval training for the skin!

We recommend: Advanced Retinol 1% Complex to be added into your night cream for ultimate skin stimulation and youthfulness. Go one step further and add in our fantastic Procollagen supplement and you really do have a great night time, super anti-ageing routine. Marine collagen has been used for years in the Far East as part of their beauty & anti-ageing regimes. It has now made a huge appearance in the skin & beauty market in the West. Marine collagen (from freshwater fish) is the most bioavailable collagen for skin health that helps support your skin’s own natural collagen. Clinical studies have shown it helps to reduce fine lines & wrinkles, improves hydration, supports collagen & improves skin elasticity. What’s not to love about this fantastic skin health supplement?

ZENii is a Doctor led UK beauty brand that focuses on the dual nourishment of skin from without and within. It focuses on high impact, high performance skincare & health supplements to maximise skin health & antiageing results. www.ZENii.co.uk

Dr Ward is the founder of ZENii. She is known for her depth of knowledge in dermatology and nutrition and her passion for anything to do with health. She has devoted her professional career to understanding the science of skin health and created ZENii out of a true passion and understanding of skincare at the cellular level. Quality and clinical integrity are what underpins all of her formulations.

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