Winters are here and so is the pollution. Pollution does not just affect your lung health but also the health of skin and hair. Drier air during the winter season could result in low skin hydration levels, compromising the skin barrier and causing issues like cracked skin and dry skin.
“Exposure to air pollutants has been linked to skin ageing, and allergic skin conditions such as atopic dermatitis, eczema, psoriasis or acne. Winter can lead to dry skin, irritation, itchiness, redness, burning skin, and cracked skin. The signs (of affected skin) will be chapped lips, dull appearance, and dry and dehydrated skin,” informs Shareefa Chause, dermatologist, Apollo Spectra, Mumbai.
Because of the pollution, you are inhaling oxidants that result in skin ageing, darkening and a host of other issues, says Kashish Kalra of Dr Kalra’s Skin Clinic, and head (dermatology and trichology), Max Smart Super Specialty Hospital in Delhi.
“You need to use actives that decrease the oxidative stress on the skin, such as vitamin C, which also helps build collagen, to improve your skin and give it more strength. This makes you less susceptible to skin issues and allergies. Antioxidants such as beta carotene and astaxanthin are also great to fight pollution damage and ageing,” says Dr Kalra.
You need to clean your face with a gentle cleanser to remove the pollutants. Don’t opt for harsh scrubs, or facewashes with actives as they might over-exfoliate your skin when damage is already there and cause further damage to the barrier, he suggests. Apply a good moisturiser (especially at night when the skin heals), with ingredients such as niacinamide, ferulic acid and ceramides, which help repair skin. “Barrier repair creams and emollients help build the lipids in your skin to keep it hydrated and protected. Do not forget sunscreen,” says Kalra, adding that UV damage will only multiply your skin problems and dark spots.
Don't forget the hair
Your scalp is a part of the skin and can also get affected, leading to cuticle damage. “Dust particles in the air can make the hair follicles weak and lead to hairfall. Dandruff and dry and itchy scalp problems are also common. During winters, the hair will be frizzy, dull, and lose its shine, which can get magnified due to high pollution. You will notice static hair, split ends, and flat hair if you tend to cover them,” says Chause. She suggests using a hair mask with hydrating ingredients such as argan oil or keratin once a week. While not for everyone, if you have an extremely dry hair phase, coconut oil is highly mosturising too. If coconut oil is too heavy for your scalp, lighter oils such as olive oil can help. “Don't blow-dry or straighten often as it causes breakage of hair bond and leads to hair fall, especially when hair and scalp are already compromised,” says Chause.
If you have an active lifestyle, it’s okay to shampoo more often to clean the sweat and grime buildup, but only with a mild shampoo.
However, if you notice any severe dry patches on the skin or any allergic reaction, consult a dermatologist rather than using over-the-counter products.
Also read: How to get your skin winter ready