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3 things you need to know about pollution and your skin

3 things you need to know about pollution and your skin

There’s more to pollution than just the smog in the air.

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Dr. Rashmi Shetty is a leading expert in dermatology and aesthetic medicine. The Mumbai-based derm has won a slew of awards for aesthetic medicine. She tells us the truth about the pollution we face.

We know air pollution affects our skin. But is there anything else we should be worried about?

Dr. Rashmi Shetty: Pollution sources can be divided into three: air, atmosphere and water.

Particles in the air, microscopic (less than 2.5 microns) or larger (more than 10 microns), can enter our pores or stick onto skin and hair, blocking our pores, causing allergies and irritation.

Next is ozone — there are good and bad. The good ozone is the one in the stratosphere, the ozone layer as we know it, and it’s being depleted because of air pollution, allowing harmful UV rays to come through and affect our skin. Now the bad ozone is in the lower part of the earth’s atmosphere, the troposphere, and it’s nothing but O3, which causes oxidative damage to skin, weakening skin cells.

And then you have gasses. Sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide, both byproducts of fossil fuel combustion in power plants and industrial facilities, can irritate and cause oxidative damage to skin.

Why do we need to be concerned about water?

Dr. Rashmi: The water which we wash our face with, from the tap, can have particulate matter. Or it can be hard water, which has been treated with calcium and magnesium salts, which leave deposits on the skin, making it rough, irritated and sensitive.

Should we consider washing our faces with bottled or distilled water?

Dr. Rashmi: If you are living in a region with particulate matter or very, very hard water, it’s perfectly okay to do so. In places like Dubai, where they desalinate sea water, sometimes they don’t do the process right. There are a lot of chemicals and residue, and remnants of salt, which dry the skin, causing the skin to become rough and sensitive. 

What can we do to protect ourselves against all these factors?

Dr. Rashmi: Make sure you wash your face often — at least twice a day. Don’t touch your face with dirty hands. Keep bed linen fresh. You can even introduce a carbon-based face wash or one with micro beads to scrub away residue.

Wash your face if you come back from a run or any outdoor activities. What helps is a rich nourishing cream with calming and soothing agents, to bring back moisture to skin and calm irritation.