Pollutants in the air are making our cities increasingly hostile to our good health and well-being. Respiratory and lung problems have become health hazards. Pollution also affects beauty as the skin and scalp also bear the brunt of air pollutants which not only attack the skin surface but also lead to an accumulation of toxins.
There are both long and short term effects of pollutants. Chemical pollutants cause oxidation damage which leads to the manifestation of premature ageing signs on the skin, like wrinkles, loss of elasticity, dark patches and spots, etc. They also disrupt the normal balances of the skin and scalp, causing dryness, sensitivity, rashes, acne, allergic reactions, dandruff and related conditions. They make the skin and hair dull, lacking vitality. All of us who live and work in urban areas need protective beauty care. In fact, for working women, the job may involve traveling long distances to work, leaving the skin more exposed to pollutants.
Cleansing of the skin assumes more importance in order to get rid of the impurities and pollutants that are deposited on the skin. Look out for products according to skin type and containing 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 moisturiser and an antioxidant. If the skin is prone to eruptive conditions like acne, pimples, rash, it should protected with specialised creams containing sandalwood and clove.
After cleansing, wipe the skin with a rose-based skin tonic or rose water, to complete the cleansing process and refresh the skin. Soak 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.
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. We formulated a sandalwood protective cream, for this very purpose, 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.
Nowadays, activated charcoal is used to detoxify the skin. It may be available at a chemist shop. Mix activated charcoal with aloe vera gel and rose water. Apply a thin layer on the face, avoiding the lips and area around eyes. Wash off after 20 minutes. The hair also needs frequent washing if one regularly travels long distances for their work.
Pollutants also collect 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 five minutes. Repeat the hot towel wrap three-four times. This helps the hair and scalp absorb the oil better. Leave oil on overnight and wash hair the next day.
The impurities and pollutants can also affect the eyes, causing burning or redness. The 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 15 minutes. This helps remove fatigue and brightens the eyes.