London is one of the most polluted cities in Europe, so after just a year of living there, I honestly felt like I had aged a decade. My skin was dry and I had huge dark shadows under my eyes, a lifeless complexion and thin, brittle hair. It wasn’t until I flew home to Sydney for a summer holiday that I realised, in stark comparison to me, all my Aussie-based friends seemed to be gorgeous, glowing pictures of health.
Although environmental factors make healthy living naturally more sustainable in Australia, I have discovered that thankfully, there are a number of measures you can take to protect yourself inside out from the effects of pollution and to keep your Aussie glow while living in or visiting London, or any other heavily built up urban areas for that matter.
1. Buy a water softener
The tap water in London is considered to be ‘hard’ meaning it contains high levels of minerals such as calcium, magnesium and copper. These minerals are bad news for the moisture levels of your skin and hair, leaving a residue that builds and results in a dull dry appearance. The solution? Invest in a water softener for your shower or look to purchase products that actively work to neutralise the effects of ‘hard water.’
2. Protect your skin
Damaging particles known as free radicals are a component of polluted city air. These cause your skin to age prematurely by breaking down collagen and blocking pores with dirt. Protect your skin by using vitamin-enriched serums (Kiehl’s Vitamin C serum is great) and a good sunscreen before you go outside. Always cleanse and exfoliate before you go to bed each night, finishing up with a filtered water spray on your face.
3. Check your postcode
Earlier this year alarming UK government research was released revealing that the top 50 areas of air pollution and toxicity in the country were all within London. Inner city postcodes such as Oxford Circus, Marylebone and Knightsbridge were amoung the worst areas with pollution levels for nitrogen dioxide being well above EU limits. Finding accommodation slightly outside of the city centre in London may be not only more affordable but much better for your health.
4. Eat locally-sourced organic
Major supermarket chains in London are not the best place to buy your fresh produce. Many staples like green beans, broccoli and cauliflower are imported from places as far as Kenya and Ski Lanka, meaning that by the time they hit the selves they are barely green and often taste horrible. Weekend farmers markets are your best bet for truly, fresh green fruits and vegetables packed with all the nutrients you need to maintain inner health and vitality.
5. Sweat the bad stuff out
You’ll feel better for releasing stress and sweating out all those inner city toxins if you get some in regular exercise. Julie Montagu’s Hot Vinyasa Yoga classes at TriYoga studios in Chelsea and spin classes Psycle are two of the best detox workouts in the city and also a great places for spotting a celebrity or two.
6. Escape when you can
It takes a lot of work to keep healthy in London. A much easier way to treat your body is to escape on a European adventure. A week of sunshine, swimming and fresh food in Sardinia, Ibiza, St Tropez, the Greek Islands or the Amalfi Coast might just be the most idyllic way of soaking up some vitamin D, boosting your mood and maintaining that glow. Bon voyage!