Confession time: until recently, I thought that anti-pollution skincare was nothing more than a fad.
Call me a cynic; a younger, more hip and slightly cuter Larry David if you will, but I tend to be skeptical of any new beauty buzzword, usually because it means there’s an onslaught of new products I need to add to my already borderline-ridiculous 8-step skincare regimen.
But, forgive me beauty gods, for I have seen the error of my ways. Research continues to suggest that air pollution is second only to UV radiation when it comes to premature ageing — meaning anti-pollution skincare isn’t likely to be going anywhere soon, and for good reason.
“Daily exposure to urban pollution particles have demonstrated a significant impact on external ageing,” says Leeanne Leslie, Professional Training and Education Manager at Alpha-H. “When these toxic microparticles land on the skin, they cause irritation and chemical damage, which gradually dulls the skin and can lead to impaired barrier function and ageing.”
How so, you might ask? Combined with UV radiation, these pollution particles are recognised by the skin as ‘trauma’, prompting melanin production (which forms pigment spots) as a defence mechanism. The long-term effect? Visibly uneven skin tone, accelerated pigmentation and loss of collagen, as well as inflammation-related congestion. Yikes.
An even bigger yikes? Additional studies have shown that another unavoidable of modern life, blue light radiation—emitted from mobile devices, computer screens and the like—is another form of pollution of which we should be wary.
“Blue light has been shown to induce the degradation of enzymes in the skin matrix,” explains Leslie. “Much like the effect of air pollution, this not only decreases collagen production, but increases pigmentary marks and oxidises free radicals that cause damage to our skin’s DNA.”
At this point, you’re probably wondering how to protect your skin against pollution in all its forms. Luckily, the answer is pretty straightforward — use products with high levels of antioxidants to prevent oxidative stress, as well as vitamin-rich skincare to reduce ageing-accelerating pigmentation. Without further ado, here are our picks of the best pollution fighters on the market.
Infused with powerful antioxidants and protective ingredients —think potent Ginkgo biloba extract, Vitamin E Acetate and Pea extracts—Sisleyouth Anti-Pollution is a super-serum that both shields against environmental and digital pollution, as well as working to correct damage already present in the skin.
Protecting the skin around the eyes (which is the area most impacted by blue light radiation reflected from the retinas), the Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair Eye Supercharged Complex is packed-full of antioxidants and anti-pollution defence technology that protects against free radical damage. It is also powered by exclusive ingredient ChronoluxCB, which helps to promote the skin’s natural repair process to revitalise and brighten the eye area. They don’t call it supercharged for nothing.
Creating a breathable barrier against pollution and environmental aggressors, Alpha-H’s Daily Essential Vitamin Mist is one to add to your beauty arsenal. Hydrating, and as the name suggests, antioxidant and vitamin-rich, the formula also includes Pollushield—an innovative, shield-like structure which has been clinically proven to trap between 74-97 percent of pollutants over a 6-hour period. Go figure.
A botanical powerhouse, the Chantecaille Anti-Pollution Mattifying Cream is a lightweight, shine-reducing moisturiser that is ideal for those who crave pollution-fighting antioxidants (this one includes desert cactus and white horehound stem cell extracts), but don’t want to add any additional ‘slip’ to their skin throughout the day—you feel me, oily-skinned girls?
Pollution protection and a next-level bronzed glow without the UV exposure? Sign me up. The Drunk Elephant D-Bronzi Anti-Pollution Sunshine Drops makes fighting free radicals fun, infusing antioxidant-rich blackcurrant seed oil and white tea extracts with the brand’s signature omega-rich virgin marula oil. Go on, get glowing.
Tell us, do you use anti-pollution products in your daily skincare regimen?
Which pollution-fighting products are you keen to try?