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Clean sweep

Protecting your skin and hair from the pollution around you might come in handy. Veenu Singh offers tips.

fashion and trends Updated: Apr 29, 2008 19:30 IST
Veenu Singh

Software engineer Reva Khanna wasn't looking forward to returning to India after a two-month course in Europe. Not that she was n't excited about meeting her husband and children again – she was.

But she certainly wasn't looking forward to resuming her daily struggle to keep acne at bay. After all, the climate in Europe had been kind to her. Her acne had not only disappeared, but her skin was actually glowing. <b1>

"My skin texture changed for the better when I was in Europe. In India, no matter what I did, my skin never looked healthy and I used to get pimples every week," wails Reva.

She finally realised that the culprit behind those painful pimples was pollution.

Apart from causing eye and nose irritation and respiratory problems, pollution affects your skin and hair too, causing dullness, premature wrinkling of skin and greying of hair.

Worse, pollution combined with the hot and humid Indian climate makes a deadly cocktail. But you can reduce the ill-effects of pollution on your skin and hair. It just takes a little work.

The skin too needs food, says Dr Chiranjiv Chhabra, dermatologist and cosmetic laser surgeon, Skin Alive Clinic.

"Oxygen makes the skin supple and healthy. But air pollutants block this supply of oxygen and that causes free radical damage. This leads to premature ageing of the skin, loss of elasticity, dark patches and spots," explains Dr Chhabra.

Adds beauty expert Shahnaz Husain, "Moreover, chemical pollutants can disrupt the normal balances of the skin and scalp, leading to problems like dryness, sensitivity, rashes, acne, irritative or allergic reactions, dandruff and related conditions." <b2>

A survey conducted by Ozone Ayurvedics (makers of NoMarks Cream) among the 15-30 years age group found that 74 per cent of the respondents suffered from acne, especially in the summer.

In places where there is heavy construction going on, cement and silica in the air can also lead to skin problems. "Constant exposure to these particulates in the air can result in contact irritant dermatitis which can cause rashes in the skin. This problem is clearly visible among people who live in or commute through developing areas," says Dr Chhabra. Solutions: First, ensure you follow a regular skincare routine.

"Along with a good cleansing lotion, use a gentle yet effective face wash that takes your skin type into account. Since you must keep your skin well hydrated, opt for a light moisturiser and a good night cream especially if you are above 35," says Dr Rohini Wadhwani, medical director, Skin Essentials.

Dr Wadhwani recommends that those with oily skin forgo the moisturiser for a toner that will help keep the pores closed.

"If you are doing workouts, it is a good idea to use a face wash after you are done. Use a face scrub regularly as it helps in exfoliating the skin. Green vegetables, soaked almonds and citrus fruits in your diet are also good for your skin," adds Dr Wadhwani.

Suggests Dr Chhabra, "Use lacto calamine lotion when you go out as it acts as a barrier for pollutants. Those above 35 can mix a moisturiser in it. Using an Aloe Vera gel is also a good idea."

There are ‘anti-pollution' creams available in the market that claim to protect your skin from pollutants. "These are basically ‘cover' creams that form a barrier between the skin and the pollutants" says Shahnaz Husain.

Your hair can lose its lustre to the evils of pollution. This happens especially when you travel long distances, since pollutants tend to cling to the hair.

"The water we use is not free from chemicals like chlorine that can harm the hair's texture. Besides this, dust and other pollutants can cause dandruff which in turn leads to hair loss, premature greying and even premature balding in men," says Dr Wadhwani.

"Wash your hair with a mild shampoo at least twice or thrice a week. You can condition your hair by using coconut oil in the summer and mustard or olive oil in the winter. If that's not possible, then use a good conditioner once a week," says Dr Chhabra.