The Straits Times article recently reported that pollution, which includes the dreaded haze, is an increasingly important contributor to skin ageing. Studies done over recent years show that pollution particles, including PM2.5 ones commonly found in unhealthy levels of haze, can increase free radical damage to the skin, resulting in signs of premature ageing.
Should we then change up our daily skincare routine? And more importantly, is haze pollution any different from urban city-living pollution? And does the haze really harm the skin more than everyday pollution? We speak to skin experts to find out more.
1. The haze makes your skin more reactive
There is a reason why your skin seems to be more triggered during the haze. According to Dr Y X Lum, medical doctor at IDS Clinic, the haze “contains a lot more harmful particles that will damage the skin”.
And because of this, “the skin often reacts negatively to the haze a lot quicker than daily pollution as it may not have the time or the ability to build up a defence [against the haze] sufficiently. [As a result] the skin gets inflamed and irritated a lot quicker.”
More importantly, like any form of pollution, haze is an oxidant that can cause inflammation within the skin, which can in turn trigger skin irritation like rash, breakouts or even uneven pigmentation, says makeup artist and cosmetic science graduate Larry Yeo.
2. Yes, the haze can age your skin faster
This is because “haze weather can trap more UV rays,” says Dr Lum. “[And] together, it can cause significant oxidative stress and free radicals, breaking down collagen and the skin barrier further, leading to accelerated ageing.”
To combat this, a strong skin barrier is important as it keeps the damaging particles out while ensuring that skin remains healthy and youthful looking.
3. Particle size is not an issue
While haze does contain more harmful particles, the size of the particles is similar to that of daily pollution. According to Dr Lum, both types of pollution are made up of Particulate Matter (PM10), Fine Particulate Matter (PM2.5), Sulphur Dioxide (SO2), Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2), Ozone (O3) and Carbon Monoxide (CO). The only difference is in the concentration of these particles – the haze contains more of them, which triggers skin inflammation at a faster rate, and hence, causes more damage.
So while city pollution and haze have negative effects on the skin, in this instance, haze can be worse, says Dr Lum.
Your Battle Plan
To combat the damaging effects of the haze, here’s what you can do:
1. Use a gentle cleanser daily to remove the dirt and trapped impurities, and so as not to “dry out the skin further”, says Dr Lum.
2. “Saturate the skin with hydration to soothe and calm down any inflammation,” says Yeo. Dr Lum adds that using a richer moisturiser can also better protect the skin against the damaging effects of the haze.
3. Keep skin well-protected, which can easily be done not only by ensuring that your sunscreen is applied properly – remember to cover the back of your ears, hairline and neck – but also by re-applying it often during the day.
4. Look for skincare enriched with antioxidants like vitamins C and E to protect against free radical damage and oxidative stress, as well as ceramides such as niacinamide to strengthen the skin’s barrier and keep the complexion healthy.
1. Sothys Detox Energie Depolluting Youth Cream, $249
A hydrating cream that rebalances the skin from within while protecting it against everyday environmental aggressors like pollution. The use of a marine complex and grafted glycolic acid promotes skin renewal to erase signs of dullness and stress, giving tired complexions a radiant glow.
2. IDS Dermashield Serum, $99
Protects your skin against the harmful effects of High-Energy Visible light (blue light), Infra-red light and environmental pollutants, just like a shield. It contains marigold extract and niacinamde to filter out blue light and slow down the effects of oxidative stress, along with alteromonas ferment extract to reduce PM2.5 adhesions on the skin’s surface.
3. Shiseido Complete Cleansing Microfoam, $58
Infused with Japanese Kirishima mineral spring water, this gentle cleanser effectively removes pollution, impurities and makeup without stripping the skin of its natural moisture. Skin is clean and supple, and strengthened over time.
4. Sigi Skin Dew Potion, $48
Packed with antioxidants such as chamomile flower, maqui berry and licorice, as well as aqua, this essence mist not only hydrates the skin but also protects it from pollution and environmental aggressors. Plus, with its anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties, it also instantly soothes and heals the skin.
5. Laneige Cica Sleeping Mask, $48
Contains forest yeast extracts to encourage skin’s regenerative properties, fortify its natural barrier while keeping it well-hydrated and comfortable. Wake up to a smooth and supple complexion.
6. Bonabella 28 Days Return Booster Soft Bubble Toner, $89
Enriched with 85 per cent vanilla planifolia extract to increase moisture levels within the skin, while strengthening the skin. Also contains lentil and witch hazel extracts to help with excess oil production.
7. Bio-Essence Bio-Water Vitamin B5 Gel, $45.90
Infused with five per cent vitamin B5 and the brand’s signature bio energy complex to energise the skin’s cells, this essence deeply hydrates the skin while soothing and repairing it from within to keep it healthy and strong.