How to Reduce Effects of Pollution on Your Skin

Wavebreak media/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Chelsea File has been living in New York for most of her life and she says she can feel the city’s grime settling on her skin.

“I’ll get home and my skin feels, like, greasy and heavy. And just, like, it’s been layered on, like, every layer that I could add to it is just on my skin. And it’s living there … it feels awful,” File, 23, said.

Everyone knows that sun is the main cause of skin damage, but some experts now say pollution can be bad for skin as well.

Nearly half of the U.S. population lives in counties with unhealthy levels of pollution, according to the American Lung Association. Those pollutants can cause skin to look older, less healthy and dull, experts say.

A 2010 German study that compared two groups of women found that those who lived in a city showed more than a 20 percent increase of hyperpigmentation and wrinkles that did those who lived in the country. The study was supported by a cosmetics company.

“A lot of the particulate matter in the air from combustion kind of collects on your skin,” Celia Ellenberg, Vogue magazine’s beauty director, said, adding that there are options to mitigate those effects.

File’s fix is a cleaning and a protective skin care routine.

“It’s really important that we strengthen and also defend the skin against environmental pollutants and aggressors throughout the day,” said Chelsea Lanham of the cosmetic company Kiehl’s.

Some experts suggest that people wash their skin thoroughly at night to get rid of pollutants that have become stuck to moisturizer and makeup. They also suggest that people look for products containing topical antioxidants and use a pore-cleansing mask weekly.

“As we live in a more and more polluted world … making sure that you’re ridding yourself of that particulate matter is so important,” Ellenberg said.

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