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As a daily commuter from Brighton into London, I’m exposed to all sorts on my train to work. Not just signal failures and the sneezes of other passengers, but recycled train aircon and once I’ve step onto the platform at Blackfriars, the heavily polluted air of London. Which, by the way, did you know surpassed the pollution levels of Beijing at one point earlier this year? It’s probably no surprise then, that by the time I’m tapping my card at the ticket gates, my skin is already starting to feel a bit grimy.
You can’t see it, but pollution is always there. If you live or work in a city, you may well be familiar with breakouts, dull complexion and hair that seems to get greasy by the time you’ve sat down at your desk. If you’re nodding in agreement, you have pollution to thank for all of that. What’s more, city air can accelerate premature-ageing and cause acne. While London is great for an Instagrammable restaurant or a rooftop bar, it is not good for your skin. However, luckily, there are things we can do.
Cleanse, cleanse, cleanse
I cannot emphasize enough how important cleansing is. Each day pollution sticks to your skin (whether you are wearing makeup or not) and because the particles are so tiny, they infiltrate your skin and cause all kinds of mayhem in your pores - hello excess sebum, breakouts and inflammation.
Your first port of call is to do the double cleanse, preferably with cleansers that are rich in vitamins and antioxidants. As soon as I get home in the evenings, I immediately use a cleansing balm to remove my make-up and any city smog that’s attached itself to my skin. For my second cleanse, I use Estée Lauder Nutritious Micro-Algae Cleansing Jelly to give my pores a deep cleanse. It has a gentle silky foam texture, so doesn't strip the skin, but is still effective at detoxifying and getting rid of any free-radicals that have found their way into your pores. It’s enriched with three kinds of super algae that are packed with vitamins, polyphenols and proteins that work together to keep your skin barrier healthy so you can get the best skin you’ve ever had.
Eat your greens
Snore bore, I know, but stocking up on antioxidant and nutrient dense food means you help your skin's defense barrier performing at its best. Which in turn, means you'll be less susceptible to surprise breakouts, dryness and overcompensating oil outbursts. Good options are blueberries, strawberries kale and broccoli. If you struggle to include these day-to-day, pop them in a blender and whizz them together for a juice on the go. Or, if you have a sweet tooth like me, stock up on dark chocolate. It’s packed with antioxidants and helps curb a 3pm sugar craving.
Don’t get me wrong, exercise is great for your health, mood and for your skin. But if you favour an outdoor run or cycle to work, you’re exposing your skin to even more pollution from exhaust fumes. I live in Brighton, so I’m lucky that I have the seaside and fresh air to escape to for evening runs – but if your skin is suffering, try working out in the gym or at home to minimize your pollution exposure. If this isn’t an option, make sure you’re thoroughly cleansing your skin straight after a workout, so you can rid any pesky pollution particles. Post workout, I’ll often use Estée Lauder’s Nutritious Micro-Algae Cleansing Bar, that works amazingly on a oily post-workout complexion, to detoxify my skin and leave it feeling decongested and refreshed.
Use an antioxidant shield
It’s all very well eating and drinking the right things, exercising and cleansing away pollution on a daily basis, but to really protect your skin during the day you need to be using a high-potency antioxidant topical treatment. Something like Estée Lauder’s Pore Minizmizing Hydra Lotion will do the trick - it shields against the fumes and prevent oxidative damage. Not only is it rich in antioxidants, but the lightweight texture sinks in easily and leaves my skin feeling nourished and balanced on my oily, acne prone skin. It also doubles up as an excellent make-up primer as it almost makes my pores look non-existent – a massive thumbs up.
In a nutshell, to give your skin the best chance against troublesome pollution you’ll need to double cleanse, eat well, avoid outdoor exercise where possible and load up on an antioxidant moisturiser. Do all of these and you’ll stop pesky pollution in its tracks. If only we could stop the signal failures too…