Effects Of New York City Pollution ( Or any city for that matter) On Your Skin

This is a NY TIMES article on How To Protect Your Skin Against Pollution.

“We are continuously exposed to ozone, said Dr. Giuseppe Valacchi, an associate professor in physiology at the Department of Life Sciences and Biotechnology at the University of Ferrara in Italy, who is known for his expertise on pollution’s effect on the body. “It’s as if ozone were designed specifically to injure our skin.”

The outer layer of our skin contains lipids — that is, fats that bind skin cells together. Ozone oxidizes those lipids, Dr. Valacchi said, causing inflammation, breaking down the barrier function of the skin and activating a cascade of DNA-damaging events. What to do?

“You can protect yourself from UV damage with sunscreen, but sunscreens aren’t effective for pollution,” said Dr. Gilly Munavalli, medical director of Dermatology, Laser & Vein Specialists of the Carolinas in Charlotte, N.C. “The best thing we can do now is apply antioxidants: vitamins C and E.”

So beneficial antioxidants may already be part of your skin care routine.

Moreover, subverting air toxins can be as simple washing your face with the right cleanser. Particulate matter, the tiny harmful particles in the air, attaches to the skin as you go about your day. But it isn’t immediately damaging.

Dr. Carl Thornfeldt, the founder of the Epionce skin care line, who has studied skin barrier function for more than 20 years, said, “Use cleansers that will wash off all the bad molecules but not strip key oils.” Aveeno Ultra-Calming Foaming Cleanser ($7.99 at ulta.com) and Vanicream Gentle Facial Cleanser for Sensitive Skin ($7.99 at drugstore.com) produce minimal damage to lipids, Dr. Thornfeldt said.

Doctors say that a routine of antioxidants, cleansing and barrier repair is the best defense against air pollution.

“People forget that the main goal of our skin is to be an immune barrier,” said Dr. Anne Chapas of Union Square Laser Dermatology in Manhattan. “So the main goal is to keep things out of the body. If you have a compromised skin barrier, it’s letting things in.”

Among the skin care ingredients to consider are glycerin, lanolin, niacinamide and beeswax.

The pollutants we encounter every day may be largely inescapable, but there’s ample reason to be defensive in our skin care routine.

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