Pollution-proof your skin before it’s too late.

Everyone knows the effects of pollution on the environment and a lot is being done for the environment: save the turtles, use paper straws, bring your own bag. But what about the effects of pollution on your skin? Well, we’re here to help you figure it all out.

Brace yourselves everyone, welcome to pollution 101.

What is pollution? 

Just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it’s not there. Pollution is found all around us and comes in many forms. Pollutants can be natural, such as UV rays and dust. But they can also be created by human activity, like exhaust fumes and cigarette smoke. And believe it or not, blue light is in fact a form of pollution.

If you’re staying in Singapore, you would have heard of PM2.5 reported by the National Environment Agency (NEA) when the annual haze from our neighbouring countries hit us. Just what is PM? 

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It stands for Particulate Matter (PM), which are solid and liquid particles suspended in the air, many of which are hazardous. They include dust, pollen, soot, smoke and liquid droplets. These particles vary in size, composition and origin. PM is either directly emitted (e.g. when fuel is burnt) or indirectly emitted (e.g. when gaseous pollutants previously emitted turn into PM). PM2.5 refers to inhalable atmospheric particulate matter that is 2.5 microns or smaller. For comparison purpose, the average cross-section of a human hair is 50 microns.

Now, what does PM do to our skin? It induces skin barrier dysfunction and provokes the formation of reactive oxygen species, also known as free radicals, which we will cover in a bit. This then leads to stress and inflammation.

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What does pollution do to our skin?

Besides being a pain in the butt, pollution can also lead to clogged pores and free radical damage. Here’s a breakdown of their effects:

Pores are tiny holes in our skin that secrete oil and sweat. Clogged pores are the result of dead skin being trapped in them, which can lead to blackheads, whiteheads and acne. Environmental factors such as dirt, dust and debris are some contributing factors.

So far so good? Next up, free radicals!

What are free radicals? Though it does sound like it could be, they aren’t some motorcycle riding, leather jacket wearing, badass 80s rock band. 

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Free radicals, also known as Reactive Oxygen Species, are highly reactive oxygen molecules. UV rays, pollution and other stressors cause these molecules to lose an electron, making them unstable. These free radicals then embark on a quest to replace this lost electron.

When free radicals come into contact with our unprotected skin, they attack our healthy cells by stealing an electron from them, and what follows is mass destruction and chaos. We’re kidding – or are we? You’ll end up getting sunspots, wrinkles, itchiness, skin discolouration, accelerated ageing, sensitivity and redness, and that sounds exactly like chaos to us.  

Now we know you didn’t sign up to be bored to death with scientific terms, so simply put; Free radicals = BAD (not to be confused with badass). Got it? 

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How does anti-pollution skincare help?

So, how do you prevent these nightmares from becoming a reality? 3 words – Anti. Pollution. Skincare. 

There are many different types of anti-pollution skincare – from face washes and serums to masks and creams – and they all come with some amazing properties. 

Anti-pollution skincare acts as a shield from hazardous PM, including dust, pollen, soot and smoke. Its soothing properties reduce sensitivity, redness, itchiness and inflammation. It also neutralises free radicals to prevent premature ageing and defends against blue light exposure. 

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What products should you use?

Much like how the environment needs saving from pollution, your skin does too! Lucky for you anti-pollution skincare is a thing, and ready to help guard your skin!

1) Protect your skin barrier
ést.lab’s ActivCalm Anti-Stress Hydra Cream is a lightweight yet truly effective anti-pollution barrier that allows your skin to breathe while protecting it. It provides double the defence with Alteromonas Ferment Extract to shield against PM2.5 and neutralises toxins to prevent skin damage. It also quickly soothes the skin, visibly reducing skin redness and discomfort.

2) Shield against blue light
Protect your skin not only from harmful UV rays but also blue light exposure with ést.lab’s SunShield SPF50*** and SunShield Aqua SPF50***. Both sunscreens double up as a tinted moisturiser so they act as a protective barrier while giving that “my skin but better” complexion. 

So there you have it folks, a quick and coherent breakdown on pollution and its effects. These picks are bound to become your ride or die in the face of urban pollution.

In good hands,