In terms of things to think about during the onslaught of West Coast wildfires, skin care does not (and should not) top the list. Although, it does make sense some would ponder skin health after exposure to such an inferno—air pollution does affect your skin over time, and smoke can be a large part of that equation.
Specifically, smoke contains particulate matter, a type of air pollution that’s small enough to sneak into your pores and cause free radical damage—which, as we know, ultimately leads to dull skin, an uneven tone, and wrinkles down the line. The soot and ash can also clog your pores and cause breakouts, says board-certified dermatologist Howard Sobel, M.D., founder of Sobel Skin. “If you have sensitive skin, are acne-prone, or have a skin condition such as rosacea, eczema, or psoriasis, the smoke exposure can also cause flare-ups of these conditions,” he tells mbg.
Here’s how to protect your skin from the increase in smoke exposure, as well as calm any smoke-induced irritation after the fact. It’s not the only avenue to focus on in terms of mentally and physically recovering from these disasters (not by a long shot), but it is something you can take into your own hands: