By Vic Smith
According to the World Health Organization, air pollution is the largest environmental health risk factor we face, and 91% of the world’s population live in places where air quality exceeds WHO guideline limits. With lockdown finally easing, and pollution levels set to rise as we venture into cities again, it is important to protect your skin from these dangers.
So why should we use specialist anti-pollution skincare?
What makes air pollution so dangerous is that it doesn’t just sit on the surface of your skin ready to be cleansed off, it seeps deep into your skin as the molecules are 20 times smaller than the diameter of your pores. Once inside, they speed up the deterioration of your cells, and cause inflammation, dehydration and exacerbate skin conditions including eczema and rosacea.
Moreover, these tiny particles generate free radicals that contribute to oxidative stress causing premature aging, and deplete your skin of essential antioxidant vitamins. Therefore, it is important to use specialist products which will actually rectify the damage caused by the pollutive particles, and provide targetted nourishment for the skin.
Which ingredients should I look for?
While there is no anti-pollutant equivalent of SPF, there are key natural ingredients which act as a shield against the particles waging war against your skin, and help to replenish lost vitamins.
Everything you need to nourish your skin inside and out can be found in nature, so there’s no need to look any further.
Using these ingredients as a guide will help to ensure the products you buy will actually counter pollution, and are not just a marketing ploy.
When the skin barrier is damaged, the risk of polluting molecules penetrating the skin and causing damage is increased. Therefore, Niacinamide, or vitamin B3, is vital in strengthening skin barriers to create a more protective shield against pollution. Moreover, this powerful vitamin also helps to reduce and control inflammation and improve the overall appearance of skin.
Vitamins A, C and E contain vital antioxidants which provide an abundance of benefits for your skin. Firstly, they increase microcirculation, which helps stimulate the skin’s self-cleansing, self-healing and self-regenerating ability.
Secondly, they can also reverse some of pollution’s side effects by brightening skin and stimulating collagen to keep the skin looking and feeling firmer. You can find these powerful vitamins in green and white tea, and in an abundance of plants and fruits.
Charcoal delivers a deep pore-cleansing action which helps to draw out pollutive toxins from the skin. When used repeatedly, this powerful natural ingredient could even help to reverse the effects that pollution has already incurred on the skin.
This rich formula combines purifying bamboo charcoal with antioxidant rich white tea and berries to deliver a pore-cleansing action, and promote cell-renewal. Part of Sukin’s Oil Balancing range, the aim is to remove excess oils whilst leaving the skin smooth and glowing. Moreover, Sukin products are carbon neutral, so you can literally neutralise pollutants with your skincare routine.
This minty green super cream not only delivers a powerful boost of antioxidant dense matcha to your skin, but also creates an antioxidant barrier to neutralise free radicals and protect you from the elements.
Alongside this powerhouse ingredient, the cream also features niacinamide to combat inflammation and a blend of fresh botanicals to calm skin. What’s more, the playful green tint helps to counteract redness and create a more even skin tone, so you may feel confident enough to go foundation-free.
This mask is a deep green fusion of antioxidant rich cacao, activated coconut charcoal, Australian pink clay, hibiscus, and a powerful blend of herbs and superfoods. Designed to be your pollution solution, the mask cuts through everyday toxins whilst soothing inflammation and stimulating microcirculation for the ultimate skin healing experience.
As the mask comes in powdered form, it enables you to mix it with any liquid you like, such as almond milk, carrot juice, water or even mashed fruit to create your own personalised skincare.
Perfect for oily to normal skin, this gentle certified organic face mask is rich in matcha tea and kaolin to draw out impurities caused by pollution and detoxify the skin. It also contains a blend of essential oils to calm and soothe your complexion, whilst locking in the vitamins with jojoba and shea butter.
TRUE’s waterless formula ensures that the entire product is filled to the brim with active ingredients, unlike some skincare which contains 70-80% water. Additionally, water-based formulations can struggle to penetrate into the deeper layers of the skin, unlike oils which can absorb past the epidermal barrier, carrying these precious anti-pollution ingredients with them.
This lightweight serum contains a comprehensive Antioxidant+3 Complex which detoxifies the skin not only of Oxygen – free radicals, but also ones caused by Carbon and Nitrogen. Recommended for daily use, the serum features a blend of antioxidant rich plant extracts and niacinamide to create a powerhouse of active ingredients which will defend your skin against the harmful toxins in city air.
If you’re already using any anti-pollution skincare, let us know your favourite products in the comments below!