Air pollution is one of the most common contributors to skin problems, including acne, skin cancer, atopic dermatitis, psoriasis, and many more. This problem is especially common in people who are constantly exposed to air pollution, particularly people who live in heavily populated cities.
While traveling to a place with heavy air pollution may not cause long-term skin problems, it can definitely trigger cases of inflammation, especially if your skin is not used to the pollutants in the environment. With that in mind, it is vital that you protect your skin if your travel destination has high levels of pollutants in the air unless you want to deal with breakouts the entire time.
Here are the best ways to keep your skin healthy and inflammation-free despite the polluted environment:
1. Double down on your skincare routine
After a long day of sightseeing, it can be tempting to just wash your face and call it quits. However, with the additional amount of contaminants on your face from walking around in a polluted environment, now is the best time to double down on your skincare routine when you get back to your hotel.
‘Doubling down’ doesn’t necessarily mean doing every step of your skincare routine twice. It could mean spending a few extra minutes washing your face, applying a little bit more of a clean skin hydrating serum than usual, or exfoliating twice a week instead of only once. This way, you can compensate for the extra stress that outdoor pollutants are causing on your face, thus helping you avoid vacation-ruining breakouts and rashes.
2. Moisturize frequently
Frequently moisturizing your face while traveling will help keep it hydrated and, in turn, protect it from dryness, excessive heat, and irritation. More importantly, it helps create a barrier between your skin and the pollutants in the air, which makes it especially important if you’re traveling to a polluted city.
Moisturizing is also a great way to prevent skin dryness when you’re traveling via plane. Since the cabin pressure can easily suck out the moisture from your skin, hydrating it with a good moisturizer can help you keep it fresh and supple during and after your flight.
3. Drink plenty of water
You should already be making a habit of drinking plenty of water in the first place, but this is especially important if you’re traveling somewhere with high air pollution levels. Drinking water helps keep your skin hydrated and thus less prone to inflammation and irritation. Furthermore, it helps you avoid dehydration, which can cause a myriad of acute health problems in and of itself.
It is also recommended to infuse your water with fruits, cut-up veggies, and potent sources of antioxidants to help your body flush out toxins.
4. Avoid rush hour
Rush hour is the worst time to go out when you’re on vacation. During this time when people are rushing to wherever they need to be, the air pollution level is at its highest due to the increased amount of cars and public transportation on the street. And if you’re walking around in the streets, the more exposed you are to pollutants in the air.
However, avoiding rush hour is not always an option. If you must go out during this time, it’s a good idea to wear a mask to provide a barrier of protection for your face. In the time of COVID, you may already be used to wearing one anyways (or are required to do so in public), so it shouldn’t be a problem. Furthermore, opt to commute via private car or taxi to reduce your exposure to pollution.
5. Use sunscreen
Sunscreen protects your skin from the harmful effects of UV rays, and using it is especially crucial if you’re traveling to a destination that is particularly sunny. But more than that, sunscreen also helps protect your skin from smog particles by trapping them on the outer layer and preventing them from penetrating deeper into your skin.
Choose a high SPF sunscreen and one that is made especially for the face. Don’t forget to apply sunscreen to the exposed parts of your body as well. Even if it’s not hot outside, it is still a good idea to wear sunscreen since UV rays are still present.
Regardless of your destination, traveling can put a strain on your skin and cause it to break out into acne, rashes, or other forms of irritation and inflammation. From the cabin pressure to the varying humid levels in different places, this doesn’t come as a surprise. That said, protecting your skin from air pollutants, as well as other irritants, while traveling can help you keep your skin healthy and your vacation hassle-free.