How pollution negatively affects beauty —- Shahnaz Husain

Shannaz Husain
Shahnaz Husain

With toxic air containing smoke, acid, soot and other pollutants crossing the danger mark at major cities in India, pollution has become a buzzword now a days. Air pollution in metro cities is not just bad for your lungs, it can also wreak havoc on your hair and skin causing a multitude of ailments from premature ageing to blocked pores to pigmentation. The presence of  urban pollution caused by carbon emissions from vehicles, air conditioning particles, dust and smoke  takes toll on environment and your health  leading  to allergies, wrinkles, uneven skin tone  and  black spots on the face. The toxic haze creates a layer of microscopic chemicals, twenty times smaller to our (skin) pore size which allows them to infiltrate deeper layers of the outer skin   causing redness, puffiness, dark spots and dry, uncomfortable and fragile skin.

Hence, if you live in an urban area, pollution is an unavoidable part of modern city life. The good news is that there are solutions to prevent pollution from causing damage to our skin by taking some preventive measures and use of herbal products.

All of us who live and work in urban areas need protective beauty care, whether they are housewives or working women. Of course, for working women, the job may involve travelling long distances to work. The skin is thus more exposed to the pollutants present in the air.

Cleansing of the skin assumes more importance in order to get rid of the impurities and pollutants that are deposited on the skin. If you have a dry skin, use a cleansing cream or gel.  For oily skins, cleansing milk or face wash may be used. For oily skin, also use a facial scrub after cleansing. Look out for products with ingredients like sandalwood, eucalyptus, mint, neem, tulsi, aloe vera, etc., when you buy cleansers. The anti-toxic and tonic properties of such ingredients have helped in clearing the skin congestion and eruptions that result from exposure to chemical pollutants. Aloe vera, for example, is also a powerful moisturizer and an anti-oxidant. So are ingredients like apricot kernel oil, carrot seed, wheat germ oil, etc. the skin needs to be protected. If the skin is prone to eruptive conditions like acne, pimples, rash, it should be protected with specialised creams that not only protect, but also reduce oiliness and deal with the problem.

After cleansing, wipe the skin with a rose based skin tonic or rose water, to complete the cleansing process and refresh the skin. Soak a piece of cotton wool in chilled rose water and tone the skin with it, patting briskly. It also improves blood circulation to the skin surface and adds a glow. Green tea also makes a good skin toner. If there is a rash or eruptions, add a little rose water to sandalwood paste and apply on the face. Wash off with plain water after 15 minutes.

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Anti-pollution cosmetics help to provide protection and reduce the damage caused by environmental effects. These are basically “cover creams” that form a barrier between the skin and pollutants.   Sandalwood protective cream is very useful to protect the skin from environmental effects. It forms a transparent protective cover. Sandalwood soothes the skin and protects it from irritative reactions and eruptive conditions. It suits all skin types and increases the skin’s moisture retention ability too.

The hair also needs frequent washing if you regularly travel long distances for work. Pollutants also get collected on the scalp. Shampoo, hair rinses, serums and conditioners help to restore the normal balances if they contain ingredients like amla, brahmi, trifala, bhringaraj and henna. They also coat the hair and form a protective cover. Mix one teaspoon each of vinegar and honey with one egg. Massage the mixture lightly into the scalp. Leave on for half an hour and then wash the hair. Rinse well with water.

Or, give the hair hot oil therapy. Heat pure coconut oil and apply on the hair. Then dip a towel in hot water, squeeze out the water and wrap the hot towel around the head, like a turban. Keep it on for 5 minutes. Repeat the hot towel wrap 3 or 4 times. This helps the hair and scalp absorb the oil better. Leave oil overnight and wash hair the next day.

The impurities and pollutants can also affect eyes, causing burning or redness. Eyes should be washed with plain water several times. Soak cotton wool pads in chilled rose water and use them over the eyes as eye pads. Lie down and relax for fifteen minutes. This really helps to remove fatigue and brightens the eyes.

The author is an internationally recognized beauty expert and is called ‘the Herbal Queen of India’.

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