By exhale esthetician and skincare extraordinaire, Quyen Ly

They’re everywhere, and you’ve probably heard of them: pollutants and their resulting “free radicals” in the air around us. They come from light, pollution, cigarette smoke, and more — and they can damage your skin. Here’s what you need to know, and how your skincare routine can fight the damage.

The science: why free radicals are dangerous

Each free radical is missing an electron — so they’re on a destructive mission, within the deep layers of your skin, to make themselves whole. This triggers inflammation and destroys keratin proteins that protect your skin. The end results? Hyper-pigmentation, age spots, blackheads, breakouts and fine lines.

If you plug up that missing electron slot, however, the free radical becomes (for the most part) harmless. Enter: antioxidants! They fight free radical cells by donating one of their own electrons — ending their destructive mission.

How do you protect your skin?

The easiest way to combat free radicals? Save your skin by using antioxidant-rich skincare products (and eating antioxidant-rich foods, like fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices).

My favorite antioxidant-rich skincare product? Pestle & Mortar’s Hydrate Moisturizer. This anti-aging cream contains powerful antioxidants from pomegranate, green tea and vitamin E help fight free radicals. These ingredients dramatically reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, help stimulate collagen production, and restore the skin’s firmness and elasticity.

Make sure you finish off your skincare routine with a sunscreen — the last barrier that gives your skin that extra protection. Try to find one that protects you from UVA, UVB and IRA as well.

We can’t change the world we live in… but we can use smart skincare practices to protect and preserve our best skin.

Want more? If you’re in NYC, you can book a facial or skincare consultation with Quyen by calling 212.249.3000.