You might not see it or feel it, but it’s there. Our skin is under constant assault from all kinds of environmental nasties, from the VOCs (volatile organic compounds), nitrogen oxides and particulate matter (PM) in polluted air to the inescapable glare of DNA-damaging UV rays. Even without sun exposure coming into play, pollutants are doing a number on our complexions: A major German study showed that urban dwellers exhibited 22 percent more hyperpigmentation than their rural peers, thanks to the high quotient of particulate matter in city smog. The same gunk can also clog pores, impair skin cells’ ability to create collagen and elastin, and seriously disrupt the skin’s barrier function. Moreover, it actually robs skin of the nutrients it needs—making it act, and look, older.
When the stakes are this high, we need a multi-pronged approach to keep our skin healthy, even-toned, and vibrant. Read on for five steps to detox skin from the inside out and the outside in.
- Wash your face! This may seem simple, but it’s surprising how many of us aren’t doing it right. First of all, face wipes probably aren’t going to cut it. Use a gentle creamy cleanser in the morning—such as OMI Renew Fresh Face Cleanser—to lift away any dead skin cells or sebum that has accumulated overnight, then switch to a more heavy-duty wash—such as OMI Revitalize Resurfacing Cleanser—in the evening. This will help eliminate any toxins that have attached themselves to skin during the day, as well as remove makeup and sunscreen, while also prepping skin to receive the nourishing ingredients in your nighttime skincare.
- Neutralize. Think of antioxidants as fire-fighters, dousing the skin with nutrients that prevent free-radical damage. (Essentially, they disarm rogue free radicals by donating an electron to the unstable molecules before they can degrade healthy cells.) Using an serum both morning and night under moisturizer is essential, and its important to look for those that contain powerful antioxidants such as resveratrol, or autophagy-inducing ingredients such as Vitamin C from Italian Citrus Bergamot.
- Bolster Your Skin’s Barrier. Pollutants can actually poke tiny holes in unprotected skin cells, which—especially if you add UV into the equation—can damage collagen, cause melanin production to run amok, and disrupt the natural microbiome of the epidermis, which keeps pH in balance and holds breakouts at bay. To best shield your complexion, use an SPF of at least 30 (even on cloudy days) and a moisturizer that contains pre- and probiotics, which help rebuild a healthy population of skin-friendly bacteria.
- Eat right. Toxins that affect skin come from within, too. Avoid pesticides, synthetic hormones in dairy and meat, and excess sugar, which causes inflammation in the skin (exacerbating issues such as acne and rosacea and promoting that puffiness that makes us look tired), disrupts the microbiome, and monkeys with hormones such as insulin, cortisol, and leptin, that affect appearance. Reach for whole, unprocessed foods—and be sure to incorporate autophagy-activators such as coconut oil, lentils, broccoli sprouts, and leafy greens.
- Clean Skincare. When it comes to detoxing your skin, purging environmental and internal villains is only part of the story. Think about the way your body feels after you’ve consumed too many processed, sugary foods: sluggish, puffy, tired. Your skin is the same: when fed on a diet of chemicals and preservatives, it loses its natural vibrance. That’s why it’s important to make sure you’re not using anything topically that’s building up in skin cells and slowing down essential youth-preserving processes as autophagy. By steering clear of silicones, PEGs, parabens, sulphates, pthalates, petrolatum, formaldehyde, and artificial fragrances, you’re freeing yourself from hormone disrupting chemicals and potentially cancer-causing compounds, while enabling skin to flourish optimally without the presence of toxins that can accelerate the signs of aging over time.