Let’s face it: While we may live in the greatest city in the world, it's also one rife with scary environmental factors. Things like pollution, germs on transport systems, and contaminated water barrage us on a daily basis. Not only are they super-gross — they all make for some maj-uh beauty problems.
But, before you consider packing up and heading for the suburbs, consider these foolproof ways to correct and minimize their effects. After all, New Yorkers have plenty of trials and tribulations to deal with on a daily basis — having our surroundings ruin our skin shouldn't be one of them.
Fine lines and wrinkles getting you down? Your fast-paced NYC lifestyle may be to blame. A study conducted last summer by Sperling’s BestPlaces and RoC Skincare found that, out of 50 cities tested in the United States, New York is the second-highest wrinkle-prone zone.
"New Yorkers have an average commute of 37 minutes each way, 35% higher than other cities studied," Erin Gilbert, MD, PhD, told the New York Daily News. "The stress of these commutes — combined with the skin's exposure to sun and pollutants from semis and buses belching out exhaust — is a recipe for disaster.”
Besides taking time for meditation and reflection, it's never too early to start some preventative skin-care measures. Heavy-duty moisturizers — such as Tatcha's Ageless Enriching Renewal Cream and Fresh's Age-Delay Cream, as well as other anti-aging products — will help combat those crow's feet before it's too late.
POOR AIR QUALITY
The hectic pace of the city isn't the only culprit behind skin problems: You’re also smothering yourself daily in an aging face mask. New York is currently one of nine cities whose pollution levels exceed the World Health Organization’s safe levels of air quality.
Dr. Tom Mammone, executive director of Clinique’s research and development, is currently working on groundbreaking research that focuses on one of the major damaging pollutants: particles known as PM 2.5, which are so small (less than 2.5 micrometers in size, hence the name) that thousands could fit on the tip of a ballpoint pen. Here in New York City, the levels of PM 2.5 have recently been moderate.
"PM 2.5 are the bad boys of the month in skin care," he explains. "They can penetrate into our cells and trigger inflammation, destroy keratin proteins that protect the skin, and cause premature aging."
“Simple changes to your beauty routine, such as proper cleansing and using antioxidants every day, can have a big impact on the skin,” says celeb facialist Cecilia Wong. Try using an electronic cleansing brush to remove sticky impurities from your pores and improve circulation, and follow up with a cotton pad soaked in an alcohol-free toner, such as Cecilia’s Rose Serum Spray, to lift off any remaining debris.
“We need to look after our skin like never before,” she continues. “Finish off your morning routine by moisturizing with water-based products, which absorb to the base of the surface layers of the skin. This helps build up the moisture reserves in the skin to prevent the absorption of pollutants.”
Look to face creams with powerful antioxidant serums that block free-radical damage: A favorite is SkinCeuticals Phloretin CF, which remains effective for 72 hours, as well as Radical Skincare's Advanced Peptide Antioxidant Serum. End with a mandatory swipe of sunscreen (we’re mad about COOLA's organic line, which contains no harsh chemicals and is jam-packed with even more skin-smoothing antioxidants to add to the proverbial mix) to seal the barrier.
We know the deal when it comes to water: If you want to look good, you need to drink plenty of it! Unfortunately for Gothamites, copper water pipes have been in widespread use for the past three decades and can easily corrode and leach into the water supply (which has, surprisingly, a naturally low concentration of the metal).
While copper is an essential trace element for countless metabolic processes, an excess disrupts normal function and can be extremely toxic. The average level of copper in New York water has been found to fall between 0.007 and 0.753 mg/L — much lower than the EPA's standard for water, which is 1.3 mg/L.
But, even though toxicity from the metal may not yet be an acute threat, copper piping could still be the reason your hair hasn't been looking so great. "The copper comes in from the tap water, and the hair acts like a sponge picking it up over time," said Jennifer Marsh, PhD, who led the investigation into the relationship between the metal and hair frizz and damage. “Coloring hair can create free radicals that damage the protein in the hair, and the copper can catalyze that reaction. In the same way, UV exposure…can do the same thing over a longer period of time. Physical processes like brushing, blow drying, and washing, hair is less able to stand up to those, and it will break down faster and lead to split ends, lack of shine, and make it harder to manage.”
Bring your hair back to life by adding a water filter to remove the metals from your supply, and use sulfate-free products such as Hairstory's Cleansing Creme, a leave-in conditioner of sorts that will radically transform your locks to a healthier, glossier version of themselves.
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