Last updated on Aug 27th, 2019 at 12:22 pm

So just when you think you’re on top of your skincare game (you know, you’re using sunblock all the time, you’ve found the perfect products for your skin type, and you’ve stopped picking at your face), we come and tell you that there’s another external factor that affects your skin!

Air pollution is impossible to get away from (even if you’re living away from the big city!), and unfortunately those pesky particles can wreak havoc with your skin if you’re not careful.

But it’s not all doom and gloom; here’s what you need to know when it comes to pollution and your skin…

Related: Natural beauty ingredients we’re excited about

Pollution and your skin: what you need to know…

Let’s start at the beginning… how exactly does pollution affect your skin?

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Air pollution is made up of a range of things, from dirt and dust to fumes and UV rays (yip, UV rays!), and none of these are good for your skin. The teeny tiny particles – known as free radicals – penetrate the skin, clog the pores and just generally mess things up! It can cause dryness, rashes, breakouts, and pigmentation in the form of dark spots.

And because free radicals can penetrate quite deep into the surface of your skin, the damage can be more permanent.

Since it’s impossible to avoid air pollution altogether, rather than dwell on the sad fact that there’s yet another thing trying to ruin our perfect skin dream, let’s focus on the fact that there are simple ways to reduce this impact…

First up, double cleanse!

We’ve spoken about this before, but double cleansing is really the only way to truly remove all the make-up, dirt, grime and unwanted particles from your face. So while it might be an extra step in your skincare routine, it really is so worth it. Most good skincare ranges have some form of pre-cleanser, otherwise a micellar water can do the job.

What is micellar water (and should you be using it)?

Follow with your cleanser, and spend time lathering the product all over your face before rinsing to really make sure you are cleaning your face thoroughly. Just remember to be gentle!

Next, detox and exfoliate

To keep your skin as pure and balanced as possible, you need to get rid of the dead and dry skin cells and draw out all the impurities in your skin. Clay products (like a mask) help detox the skin by getting these out, and your exfoliator prevents impurities from building up and forming a barrier on your skin, which will prevent your products from working and causing blocked pores, break outs and rashes.

Use antioxidants…

These help give your skin the strength it needs to rejuvenate since pollution weakens the cells. Look for products containing vitamins A, C and E, as these are all antioxidants that are perfect for the job.

Lastly, create a barrier

After moisturising, use that SPF! As if you needed another reason (we’ve given you quite a few of them by now!), there’s the fact that it works as a barrier to prevent not only those harmful UV rays, but also other pollutants, from penetrating your skin.

Now read: 5 Places you’re probably forgetting to apply sunscreen