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October 12, 2021
Hydration, acne, hyperpigmentation, wrinkles, and sensitivity are the top five skin-related concerns for most. Granted, because these issues are visible, of course they get the most attention. If you are living in a big city like Hong Kong, fighting the effects pollution has on your skin should really be one of your priorities.
Why? This is because pollution is detrimental to skin health, and may actually be one of the main underlying causes of all your skin woes. In fact, some research suggests that it is just as bad for skin as unprotected sun exposure.
There are hundreds and thousands of harmful chemicals in the environment that we encounter everyday, and these air pollutants have been found to interfere with normal functions of lipids, DNA and proteins by way of oxidative damage, deplete the skin of vitamins, cause chronic inflammation, break down collagen and elastin, as well as send pigment-producing cells into overdrive. The results, premature skin aging, dehydration, dryness, pigmentation, wrinkles, loss of elasticity, dullness, inflammatory or allergic conditions including atopic dermatitis, psoriasis and acne, and even skin cancer.
The below are four main groups of air pollutants that are particularly damaging to skin health.
Yep, this PM is exactly the same as the one in those PM2.5 masks. These small, floating pollutants come from everything around us, from car exhaust to construction sites and unpaved roads, as well as from cooking, dusting, and vacuuming indoors!
Not only do these particles, most damaging when they are under 10 microns, affect health by passing through the nose and throat and enter the lungs, they can actually easily get into your pores that are mostly around 50-70 microns and cause free radical attack, DNA damage and cell death.
This toxic gas forms when UV light hits nitrogen oxides (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). It is suspected to be one of the main causes of pollution-related skin damage, as they pretty much get directly absorbed into the skin and cause free radical attacks, with evidence showing accelerated aging process, that results in the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, pigmentation, and sagging skin.
Carbon monoxide leads to tissue hypoxia (lack of oxygen to the tissue), which slows the skin’s metabolism, leading to paleness, premature aging, dryness, and more. Whilst, nitrogen dioxide damages the lipid barrier, resulting in dryness, irritation, sensitivity, acne, inflammation.
Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), are a group of more than 100 different chemicals that are released from the incomplete burning of coal, oil, gasoline, trash, tobacco, wood, and more that can lead to skin irritation and inflammation.
Besides cleansing the face in the morning (air pollutants are also present indoors), you should always double cleanse at night, with or without makeup. This is because these pollutants, many of them being oil-soluble, easily get inside the pores, and cannot be washed off with a water-based cleanser, be it in gel, lotion, milk or cream form, thus an oil-based cleanser is needed to really rid the pores of the impurities.
We have talked in-depth about why double cleansing is important. For details, please click here.
holi(cleanse) Cleansing Face Oil <- Click to shop
Enriched with a nutrient-dense base of luxury oils, including Jojoba Oil, Argan Oil, Sunflower Seed Oil, Rice Bran Oil, and Rosehip Seed Oil, it completely emulsifies and removes dirt, oil, and makeup in the most nurturing manner. The gentle formula is also rich in calming botanical extracts to alleviate sensitivity, ease redness, and protect the skin during cleansing.
Smooth Operator Purifying Cleansing Gel <- Click to shop
A mildly acidic cleanser that respects the skin barrier, gently dissolves and removes daily grimes in a hydrating, non-irritating way using naturally derived surfactants. The unique formula is enriched with White Truffle, Betaine Salicylate, Noni Fruit, and various berry extracts, as well as the brand's patented core brightening complex AYM to treat breakouts, lighten hyperpigmentation, increase transparency and elasticity, and fight free radicals.
Charcoal Peace Calming Cleanser <- Click to shop
With activated charcoal, kaolin clay and plant oils, the lightweight triple-phase botanical formula cleanses and detoxes while nourishing the skin. Its gel-to-oil-to-milk formula perfectly removes makeup, excess oil, daily grime and pollutants without drying out the skin. Whilst, its hydrating, moisturizing and antioxidants properties like Sunflower Seed Oil, Sweet Almond Oil and Orange Fruit Hydrosol supports the skin’s hydration, improves water retention, replenishes key lipids and fights free radicals.
Nope, anti-pollution skincare products are not a gimmick. They usually contain ingredients that can counteract the damages air pollutants can have on the skin. For instance, Activated Charcoal and Kaolin can pull out harmful toxins and pollutants, Astaxanthin and Fulvic Acid fight oxidation and inflammations, reduce UV damages, and remove toxins and heavy metals from the skin, and Red Algae and some other ingredients prevent future pollutants from attaching to or being absorbed by the skin by forming a breathable, physical barrier.
Symmetry Fluid <- Click to shop
Rich in rare ingredients Astaxanthin and Fulvic Acid, as well as resveratrol-rich Cranberry, Green Tea, White Tea Extract, Red Algae, Dandelion, Gotu Kola and Ginkgo, etc., Symmetry Fluid fights off inflammations and free radicals, detoxifies, removes heavy metals in the skin, brightens, reduces acne, promotes skin cell regeneration, strengthens and repairs the skin, and increases skin elasticity, whilst creating a breathable barrier on the skin surface.
The London Mask <- Click to shop
With a base of highly moisturizing organic rice, purified kaolin and natural squalane, as well as Comfrey, Mallow, Cucumber, Panthenol and Allantoin, this bestselling mask helps eliminate toxins and impurities, reduces pollution damage, and repairs skin, whilst soothing and softening even the most stressed skin.
Supreme Seed Delicate Purification Mask <- Click to shop
Formulated with Kaolin, Papaya Extract, Wild Cherry Bark, Aloe Vera Leaf Juice and Green Tea Leaf Water, it gently purifies and decongests to improve clogged pores, blackheads, whiteheads, and acne. Together with soothing and balancing Panthenol, Gotu Kola, Kelp, Ginkgo, Calendula, and Cacao amongst other botanicals, as well as nourishing oils, it also helps calm, soothe, and improve the appearance of redness and irritation.
Free radicals that come from air pollutants damage the skin by triggering chronic inflammations, as well as breaking down the collagen and elastin fibers in the skin. Although invisible to the eyes, this gradually slows down our skin’s natural rejuvenation process, and appears on the skin in the form of dryness, dullness, loss of elasticity, wrinkles, pigmentation, redness, itchiness, and even chronic conditions like eczema, rosacea, and psoriasis.
To neutralise and prevent the damages caused by such free radicals, antioxidants scavenges the free radicals and offer up one of their electrons, thereby preventing healthy cells and tissues from breaking down. This halts the chain reaction of free radical production, thereby preventing oxidative stress and skin cell damages, and allowing our skin to heal and repair itself.
Using skincare that contains plenty of antioxidants is therefore crucial, as in the morning they help fight and neutralize free radicals we are exposed to, and continue to help repair the ongoing accumulated damages, whilst stimulating the our bodies’ own natural production of antioxidants.
Find out more on antioxidants here.
UV-R™ <- Click to shop
With Mulberry, which has the highest concentration of resveratrol in nature (10x more than what is found in grape), Bilberry, and other sprecious organic botanical ingredients like Cordyceps, Broccoli Sprout, and Ginseng extracts etc., UV-R prevents and reverses daily UV-induced damages, promotes cell regeneration, fights oxidative stress, and reverses photoaging, thus keeping the skin youthful and radiant.
holi(oil) Ageless Face Serum <- Click to shop
With a base of Rice Bran Oil and Rosehip Oil, as well as actives including Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Calcium Ketogluconate, Damascus Rose Extract and Helichrysum and Sandalwood Oil that are high in a wide array of antioxidants, the lightweight holi(oil) reduces fine lines and wrinkles, promotes cell and collagen regeneration and self-hyaluronic acid production, reduces redness, soothes and improves rosacea and eczema, and effectively slows aging. The ingredients are also clinically-proven to actually reduce acne, scarring and hyperpigmentation!
Studies have demonstrated that exposure to airborne pollutants could lead to significant alterations of the skin's microbiome, which serves as a first line of defence of skin health, with an increase in both the abundance and diversity of pathogenic bacteria, and up to 50% reduction of good bacteria. This then lead to a wide range of skin issues, including acne, sensitivity, and inflammatory conditions like eczema, dermatitis and rosacea.
Live probiotic cultures work by secreting anti-bacterial, antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory substances that penetrate bad bacteria and kill them before they trigger an inflammation, whilst providing a protective shield to keep bad bacteria from reaching skin cells, as well as calming parts of the skin cells that want to react to the bad bacteria, thus stopping them from sending an “attack” message to the skin’s immune system that leads to redness, swelling, patchy skin, or acne-like bumps.
One point to note though, is that products that claim to contain probiotic often comprise ingredients such as fermented ingredients like Lactobacillus ferment, meaning they do not actually comprise living bacteria, and therefore are not technically probiotics. Also, even if a formula claim to contain live cultures, moisture, as in a water-based formula, can be threatening to the well-being and effectiveness of these little guys. In addition, some preservatives, natural or otherwise, would render any probiotic cultures inert and therefore useless, unless the preservative systems are crafted to address “bad” bacteria without harming the “good”.
As for prebiotic, it basically serves as the food source of the probiotics and the good bacteria, so they can stay strong, healthy and alive.
MARIE REYNOLDS LONDON
Restore <- Click to shop
In addition to the only 8-strain probiotic live culture technology on the market, the formula is also fortified with 2 kinds of prebiotic, vitamin D-rich Alfalfa, antioxidant superfood Açaí Berry, soothing and anti-inflammatory Hemp Protein, vitamin C-rich Acerola Berry, as well as detoxifying and antioxidant-rich Chlorella, Dandelion and Spirulina, to effectively relieve and improve inflammation, balance skin, promote skin cell repair and regeneration, and restore skin health. Especially suitable for various skin inflammation problems such as rosacea, eczema, dermatitis, psoriasis, sensitivity and acne.
MARIE REYNOLDS LONDON
Butter Balm <- Click to shop
Enriched with a blend of butters and oils abundant in vitamins, prebiotic, antioxidants and essential fatty acids (omegas 3, 6 and 9), it strengthens the microbiome and lipid barrier function, nourishes and soothes dry and senstive skin, fights free radicals and bacteria, whilst calming and improving inflammations.
You read it right. Foundation.
Foundation can act as a physical barrier between the environment and the skin, so that all these air pollutants cannot easily stick to the skin or get into the pores. In fact, because most foundations these days contain titanium dioxide, which is a proven sunscreen ingredient, they offer another layer of protection against harmful UV rays, especially since most people don’t apply enough sunscreen (but don’t rely solely on foundation for sun protection though).
This is actually one of the reasons Japanese and Korean ladies generally have better skin even as they age. Thanks to their custom of wearing foundation almost everyday, the skin is being protected by an extra layer of protection from harmful air pollutants.
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