How to pollution-proof your baby's skin!
Almost 17 million babies under the age of one live in areas where air pollution is at least six times higher than international limits, according to UNICEF. More than three-quarters – that’s 12 million babies– live in South Asia.
In high pollution counties such as China, Hong Kong and much of South East Asia, manufacturing is causing havoc on the health of our children. Our babies have become the ultimate sacrifice for development and “progress”.
And it’s not just the major cities: a study of 482 cities across Asia found that 99.6% were exposed to unhealthy air quality levels.
Unfortunately for parents, while efforts are being made to reduce it, pollution is not improving any time soon.
So in the meantime, we have to be vigilant and smart about protecting our baby’s skin. And the best way to do that is through natural skincare that protects your baby’s delicate skin.
Tiny particles you can’t even see
Smog, smoke and invisible pollution don’t just creep into our babies; lungs, they also get through their skin.
The microscopic particles of toxic air pollutants are up to 20 times smaller than your baby’s pores.
Once inside the skin cells, these toxic particles inflame and damage your baby’s deep tissue, and reduces their young skin’s ability to regenerate, heal and grow.
The surprising links between pollution, inflammation, and eczema
Pollution is a trigger for inflammation: a key cause of eczema, redness, itching and other skin conditions.
“Air pollution can lead to skin aging and the worsening of inflammatory skin diseases like eczema, acne, and psoriasis,” says Dr. Chan Yung, a Hong Kong dermatologist. “It can also increase the risk of skin cancer.”
It’s also shown to cause dark spots on the skin. You know those dark liver spots you see on older Asian women? They’re called lentigines and they’re associated with air pollution.
Even indoor pollution can damage the skin. A recent study in China found that indoor air pollution, due to close proximity to smokers, cooking fuels and roads, can cause skin damage.
Why free radicals are such a threat to your baby’s skin
When pollutants interact with your baby’s skin, it can cause free radical damage to skin cells
If you haven’t heard of free radicals before, you might think they sound kind of cool. Unfortunately, they are not some brave resistance group fighting against the baddies. Rather, they are unstable molecules that cause damage to cells. Learn more about free radicals here, and how they steal your electrons. [link to previous anti-pollution blog]
Free radicals change the skin cells’ structure and function, and even change the instructions in the cells’ DNA, which means the damage to your little one’s skin can be long-term.
So what can parents do?
The good news is, you can protect your baby’s skin from pollution damage. The key is to look for natural baby skincare products with two vital qualities:
- A healthy protective barrier
- Antioxidants to fight the free radical damage
How to protect young skin against pollution
The first form of defense against air pollution is your baby’s skin’s natural barrier: the epidermis.
The outermost layer of the skin is the epidermis, and the outermost part of that is called the stratum corneum. The stratum corneum does all the tough work in protecting your baby’s delicate skin from aggressors such as pollution, UV rays, and toxic chemicals. I
A weak stratum corneum means a weak barrier, which allows more irritants and microparticles to get through.
To strengthen this defense, you need to replenish the fatty acids of the skin and keep it hydrated.
One of the most effective ways to do this is through emollients: a key ingredient in any decent skincare product. Emollients protect and hydrate the skin.
By applying a good natural emollient to your baby’s skin, you help to heal and strengthen their skin barrier, helping protect their skin from the effects of pollution.
The superpower of antioxidants
The next weapon in the fight against pollution is antioxidants, applied directly to the skin.
Antioxidants are powerful things: they work by stabilizing the free radicals so they don’t cause further damage to the cells. In so doing, they also reduce inflammation, which is the cause of many skin conditions including eczema.
When applied “topically”, ie straight onto the skin, antioxidants are absorbed into the skin’s cells, where they can do their healing work.
Hong Kong dermatologist Dr. Chan Yung advises using a topical antioxidant to protect against air pollution. He says applying antioxidant skin will help reduce oxidative stress from free radicals.
Antioxidants are also important for collagen: that essential protein which keeps the skin elastic, strong and supple.
Free radicals break down collagen proteins in the skin, and antioxidants help prevent this breakdown. Some antioxidants such as vitamin c (see below) actually promote collagen production.
Without antioxidants, your baby’s pollution-exposed skin will struggle to produce enough collagen.
Lovekins products have one of the highest levels of antioxidants of any natural baby skin care product.
The super antioxidant: vitamin C
One of the most potent antioxidants for skin care is vitamin C.
You know when you apply lemon juice to cup apple slices or avocados, it stops them turning brown? That’s the vitamin C in the lemon juice doing its antioxidant job: it’s literally stopping the apple of avocado from “oxidizing”.
Vitamin C does a very similar job on the skin. It not only neutralizes free radicals but also encourages cell and tissue growth, helping your baby’s skin to repair itself.
So why don’t we use lemon in our baby skincare? Because we have an even better source of vitamin C: Kakadu Plum.
Kakadu Plum, grown in the fresh air and sunshine of Australia’s northern territory, has the highest vitamin C on earth: more than 100 times the vitamin C of oranges. In terms of overall antioxidants, it’s1,333 percent richer in antioxidants than blueberries.
Vitamin C is just one of the many antioxidants bursting out of our Kakadu Plum!
Feed your baby’s skin with antioxidant superfoods
We also fill our baby skincare with other natural sources of antioxidants, including quandong and white tea.
Quandong is the second-highest source of antioxidants on the planet, coming second only to Kakadu Plum.
Quandong is also high in vitamins and minerals such as vitamin E, folate, magnesium, calcium, iron, zinc and Rutin, a strong antioxidant that works well with vitamin C to repair skin cells and strengthen the skin.
White tea also protects and heals the skin with its natural antioxidant power. White tea delivers more antioxidants than black or green tea, because the young leaves and buds aren’t processed or dried, keeping them pure and potent.
A study published in BioMed Central journal of Complementary and Alternative Medicine found white tea works to inhibit enzymes that attack the skin’s collagen and elastase. It even mimics the action of one of the body’s own antioxidant enzymes.
You CAN protect your baby’s skin from pollution
If we can’t surround our babies with wide-open blue skies and fresh clean air, at least we can use products that are grown in those pristine conditions.
Our core ingredients such as Kakadu Plum and Quandong are grown in Australia. In fact, Kakadu plum is only grown in particular parts of the Northern Territory, where the harsh conditions create extra potent levels of antioxidants. By using skincare made with these Australian superfoods, you are not only protecting your baby’s skin but healing it from damage.