When it comes to Summer, not only do we get extreme temperatures, but we also get smog. Ever looked at a nice view and noticed a grayish fog or haze? That is smog. Smog occurs because of pollutants in the atmosphere that may be caused by fuels such as nitrogen oxides (that are found in burning gas, natural gas, coal, and oil), carbon monoxide, and many more. According to the organization, Cleaner and Greener, the major air pollution sources are derived from transportation, electricity, other home fuel uses, and goods and services we buy. Not only does our planet get affected by these fuels, but every living person is also affected, both internally and externally. These pollutants, such as nitrogen oxides and carbon monoxides damage crops (that we eat), which may cause internal consumption of these chemical. For example, smog and nitrogen oxides creates an effect known as acid rain, so when it rains, the water falling is already polluted, and when it hits the crops, the crops get contaminated, and we eat those contaminated crops. Other internal effects may include lung damage from smog and blood having a more difficult time providing oxygen to cells.
So how does skin care play into air pollution you ask? Well, many of you might be shocked that air pollution externally affects you, by damaging your skin. According to the New York Times, “Ozone, the toxic gas formed when UV light hits mono-nitrogen oxides (basically, combustion exhaust), is suspected by some to be one of the primary causes of pollution-related skin damage.” The Ozone layer located in the stratosphere (one of five atmosphere layers) is our essential protection against skin cancer because it absorbs UV rays. Although the Ozone works as a shield against UV rays above in the sky, down below on the ground level, the Ozone layer may actual cause lung damage. So how exactly does our skin age faster? Our skin contains certain lipids that help keep our skin firm, however the Ozone layer damages those lipids causing skin damage and speeding up aging. The skin gets damaged due to the loss of oxygen your skin cells are receiving. Although this is normal when it comes to aging, air pollutants and UV radiation speed up the process.
Smog and Smoking
Smog is not the only type of fog, and neither is the smoke from other pollutants the only kind—smoking is a pollutant that damages your skin. According to LIVESTRONG, the process of growing tobacco, as well as consuming it, creates so much pollutants, it’s a hazard to the environment. First, the plant itself requires so many pesticides and herbicides, due to its fragility, thus causing the Ozone layer to deplete because of the chemicals these pesticides and herbicides contain. Such chemicals may even end up in ground water, killing wildlife and even poison people because of contaminated water. Now, these are just the chemicals that are used for growing tobacco, but more chemicals are released into the environment during manufacturing cigarettes. Chemicals such as:
- Ethylene glycol
- Hydrochloric acid
- Hydrogen fluoride
- Methyl ethyl ketone
- Nicotine and nicotine salts
- Nitric acid
- Phosphoric acid
- Sulphuric acid
- Let’s also not forget the Carbon Dioxide that gets released while transporting (and consuming) the product, using fossil fuels that damage the atmosphere—just to name a few.
Now imagine all of those chemicals going into your mouth as you inhale and exhale a cigarette. The chemicals listed above are not only released into the atmosphere, create liter (cigarette butts are the number one littered item in the U.S.) but they stay in your body, and may lead to skin cancer. Smoking also causes your skin to wrinkle because it narrows your blood vessels due to lack of oxygen. According to HowStuffWorks, “Smoking also damages elastin and collagen, fibers that give skin its elasticity, which cause skin to wrinkle prematurely.” So next time you pick up a cigarette, ask yourself this—is it really worth it? If smoking is a stress reliever, here are other options to deal with stress, check out this collection of Cat-Stress-Relievers that Buzzfeed has compiled!
Shield Your Skin
It takes a large amount of people, corporations, and politicians to come together and find a solution to defeat air pollution, in the meanwhile, you can learn how to shield your skin from air pollutants!
Wash Your Face
Washing your face should not only be a part of your beauty routine, but learning to wash your face every single day, and if possible, day and night, is going to help you keep your face clean from chemicals and pollutants. By washing your face, you’re preventing your skin from irritation and dryness from pollutants. Here’s a list of possible products to use to not only keep your face clean after washing, but also to help with dryness from pollutants!
The milk not only prevents and heals dryness, but it also helps with hyperpigmentation from dryness in areas such as elbows, knees, knuckles and feet. Use it after cleansing and treating to moisturize the skin.
The crème helps reduce skin discoloration, hyperpigmentation, and helps brighten and even out your skin. It’s formulated with sunscreen so you won’t have to worry about UV rays!
This soap works to not only help dry skin, but it also helps with aging skin, because of the anti-oxidants such as Aloe Vera, Shea Butter, and pure Olive Oil. Say goodbye to rough skin and hello to smooth and soft!
This crème has a specially blended formula with antioxidants that help maintain your skin looking young and stay moisturized. Use it with the My Natural Beauty Skin Tone Olive Oil Soap for added hydration and clean looking skin!
Antioxidants to the Rescue!
According to SELF, “When pollution gets into your skin, it creates free radicals, highly unstable molecules that have unpaired electrons. These molecules [try] to steal an electron from a healthy cell, thereby injuring it.” These electrons therefore damage your collagen, which is essential for firm skin, and creates holes in your cells. This can lead to possible hyperpigmentation, wrinkles, and acne from increased inflammation. Apply serums with antioxidants such as Vitamin C, in order to ensure your skin cells have the proper nutrients to prevent free radicals damage. Here are a couple of ways to pack in those antioxidants:
- Eat Foods That Have Antioxidants—eating foods such as wild berries, dark chocolate, pecans, kidney beans, cranberries, blackberries, cilantro, and even green tea, is going to help
- Try the Clear Essence Lemon Plus Vitamin C Skin Care Line—The Lemon Vitamin C skin care series is made with a natural blend of vitamin c, fruit acids, emollients, and extracts of lemon, licorice, ginseng, gentian, aloe, green tea and sea kelp. Our Lemon Vitamin C line is natural skin care from nature, as it is a non-hydroquinone based treatment for excessive pigmentation in people of color. Lemon Plus Vitamin C from Clear Essence has fruit extracts for the gentle treatment of: Hyperpigmentation, uneven skin tone, excessive dryness, and environmental damage. Check out some of our favorites:
The Lemon Plus Vitamin C Body Soap Scrub is a deep cleansing body scrub for all skin types; a unique blend of botanical ingredients that uses Vitamin C, lemon, and other antioxidants to restore balance and tone to the skin. The soap is formulated with natural exfoliates, which scrub away dead skin cells, causing the skin to feel smoother and cleaner, not to mention, the light lemon sent leaves skin smelling GREAT!
If you have a job that requires to be out in the sun all day, or you know you’ll be out all day, try covering up your skin with long sleeves and a hat in order to protect your skin from being in contact with air pollutants! You can also find out whether your clothes are properly UPF. According to the Skin Cancer Organization, “UPF stands for Ultraviolet Protection Factor. It indicates what fraction of the sun’s ultraviolet rays can penetrate the fabric. A shirt with a UPF of 50, for example, allows just 1/50th of the sun’s UV radiation to reach the skin.” It’s important to know your clothing is protecting sufficiently against air pollutants and UV rays, otherwise you are at a higher chance of skin damage. The Skin Cancer Organization also provides examples of what fabrics to look for depending on the UPF you seek.
Because the Ozone layer is depleting, we are now more than ever exposed to UV rays. It’s important to apply sunscreen every day, even if it’s cloudy outside! Try our Clear Essence Platinum Skin Beautifying Milk with SPF 15, which helps keep your body moisturized and protected from any harmful UVA/UVB rays and still help fade discoloration from previous harsh sun exposure. Protecting yourself from UV rays is not only going to help you keep your skin healthy, but it’s also going to prevent your skin from hyperpigmentation, and uneven skin tone.