Lately there has been a lot of talk about the effects of pollution on our skin and people are becoming more aware that this is something we have to address. It's important that we understand how pollution actually affects our skin to make wiser decisions when choosing skincare products or lifestyle choices that can help combat the negative effects.
As a passionate advocate for consumer awareness and as a skincare formulator my aim with this blog is to help you learn more about how pollution can effect your skin and to highlight OSCO Natural Pollution Defence Serum that has focused on combating this issue.
So How Does Pollution Effect The Skin?
Living in urban regions can expose us to several pollutants from car exhaust, ultra fine dust, urban dust and benzo-a-pyrene to name a few. Recent studies have indicated that the most harmful effects of pollution don't necessarily come from the particles in the air themselves, but the hundreds of chemicals that attach themselves to these kinds of particles in the air. Most of the particles in the air are too large to penetrate the skin, but the hundreds of chemicals attached to them are small enough to permeate. Being exposed to cigarette smoke for example is one of the worst as it contains over 6000 chemicals alone! This creates oxidative stress which is defined as an over production of destructive reactive oxygen species or ROS. The side effects of ROS can contribute to skin conditions such as acne, eczema, dryness, fine lines, premature aging, hives, dullness and irritation.
After learning about this I reached out to fellow organic skincare formulator Coyran Cheung, founder of OSCO Natural Beauty. The primary focus of her brand is demonstrated through the Pollution Defense Serum. I began using it as I knew that it contained certain key ingredients that had high levels of antioxidants and omega fatty acids.
Coyran originates from Hong Kong, which is a city that deals with severe pollution levels from petrochemicals, industry and car exhaust. I wanted to get to know her background and share with you what inspired her to create this niche product and how it helps people defend their skin against the free radical damage caused by environmental stressors.
Interview with Coyran Cheung
What inspired you to create OSCO Natural Beauty and why did you choose to focus on pollution?
A: My passion started when I was 23 and suffered from serious facial break outs. I tried many solutions but they did not work until I started my journey into natural beauty. I was so excited at the moment because I have quit my nursing job of 9 years to make my dream, OSCO, a reality!
Pollution has become more severe nowadays, UV radiation, air pollution, light pollution and ozone depletion are a few of the more obvious causes. Generally, people are aware of the dangers of pollution, very few take action to protect themselves against it. I care about people and I am eager to help them become confident, protected and healthy in a polluted environment. I would love to support people in their natural beauty journey, help their skin and bring them back to nature.
Q: What are some of the side effects on the skin from being exposed to excess pollution?
A: Squalene and vitamin E are the main antioxidants of the skin. However, when exposed to pollution (e.g. air pollution), these antioxidants will be depleted to combat oxidative stress in the skin, causing dry skin. Moreover, the tiny size of pollutant chemicals sometimes may infiltrate deeper layers of the epidermis, causing inflammation and sensitive skin. Pollution can also lead to excessive sebum secretion, uneven skin tone, wrinkles and loss of skin elasticity by breaking down collagen and the lipid layer in the skin that impairs skin barrier function.
Light pollution is also one of the main pollution problems nowadays. The blue light of our smartphones, computer, television and LED electronic products can lead to premature aging and skin damage by releasing cell-damaging free radicals as well.
Q: In your Pollution Defense Serum what are some of the key ingredients that protect and repair the skin from pollution specifically?
A: Replenishing antioxidants is very important to neutralize the free radicals, delay or inhibit the cellular damage, and thus prevent the skin impacts and aging caused by pollution. Most of the ingredients in our Pollution Defense Serum are high in antioxidants, especially prickly pear seed oil, one of the ingredients of the serum that contains 2-3 times more vitamin E than other oils. This nourishes individual cells, helps destroy harmful free radicals, protect the skin against pollution and environmental stress. Pollution can also lead to excessive sebum secretion, uneven skin tone, wrinkles and loss of skin elasticity by breaking down collagen and the lipid layer in the skin that impairs skin barrier function. The ingredients in Pollution Defense Serum are high in fatty acids (Omega-3, 5, 6, 7, 9) that our skin definitely needs. It can maintain and repair skin barrier function as well as promote collagen formation.
Key Ingredients mainly contribute to it include:
Omega-3: Sacha Inchi Seed Oil
Omega-5: Pomegranate Seed Oil
Omega-6: Watermelon Seed Oil, Prickly Pear Seed Oil
Omega-7: Sea Buckthorn Pulp CO2 Extract
Omega-9: Watermelon Seed Oi
I used this oil everyday for a few weeks to see how it would effect my skin as it usually takes some time to see the cumulative effects of an effective skincare product. One of the first things that I like about this oil is that it has a lightweight texture that absorbs very efficiently into the skin. This can be attributed to the concentrations of the various fatty acids found in ingredients such as Sacha Inchi, Watermelon Seed, Prickly Pear and Pomegranate. As a formulator I know it's important to have a balanced ratio of your chosen ingredients for efficacy to deliver the maximum benefits to your skin while giving you a pleasant censorial experience and remaining safe to use. This oil has a fresh floral scent with citrus notes that is not overwhelming.
You only need about 2-4 drops for your face and decollete, as the viscosity of it makes it easy to spread and massage into the skin. This is important for me because I have combination skin and some face oils can be too thick for me to apply in the morning with my makeup. I applied 2 drops directly to my skin and added another drop into my mineral foundation which I'd apply directly for that dewy effect. After about 6 days of using it directly under my eyes in the evenings, I noticed that it also helped to reduce some under eye puffiness and darkness in the morning, which I LOVED! The watermelon seed oil is known to have this positive benefit when used consistently.
I would recommend this oil as well for women who tend to have oily skin types as it can also help to regulate excess sebum production and help to reduce the appearance of enlarged pores.
When dealing with pollution I would recommend taking a proactive approach by implementing a comprehensive holistic skincare routine that protects, repairs, and detoxifies. By doing so you're taking the required measures to optimal results. Here are some of my additional personal suggestions complimentary to using OSCO Pollution Defense Serum.
1. MINERAL SUNSCREEN
I always suggest the use of a mineral based sunscreen in your skincare routine to protect against UVB and UVA rays and to provide that extra physical barrier on your skin for optimal defense.
It's also important to cleanse and detoxify your skin regularly to unclog your pores from the impurities that can build up daily. Cleanse your skin twice daily using a gentle cleanser that doesn't strip your skin of oils. Stay away from harsh surfactants such as SLS.
Use a weekly charcoal and clay based mask. Both of these ingredients have the ability to absorb dirt, impurities and oils deep within your pores and provides vital exfoliation for your skin cells. This will diminish inflammation, reduce the appearance of pore size, help to combat acne and give you a refreshed looking complexion. If you have access to a sauna, that is also suggested to help detoxify your skin cells from pollutants.
4. LIFESTYLE & HYDRATION
I cannot stress how important having a healthy diet and lifestyle is for the maintenance of healthy skin. Skin is the largest organ in our body so we must treat it from the inside out as such. Including antioxidant rich foods such as veggies, fruits, fish, nuts and seeds in your diet makes an enormous impact on the ability to combat the free radical damage we are bombarded with on a daily bases. Getting regular exercise and staying hydrated also supports the bodies natural detoxification and elimination processes.
The heavy metals found in pollutant chemicals, which can penetrate your body can only be eliminated starting internally so keep in mind that you have to approach this issue holistically to maintain beautiful skin.