During in-cosmetics Paris this year, I saw numerous companies launching ingredients with anti-pollution claims. Already an established trend in Asia (within Japan, China and South Korea this year alone, 27% of new skincare products boast anti-pollution claims), industry leaders including Shisiedo, Clinique and Clarins have started to introduce anti-pollution ranges to Western markets. Is this just a clever marketing ploy or is there really a substantial need for separate skincare to tackle pollution?
Is pollution ageing?
Air pollution has long been associated with premature ageing. There is a substantial amount of research behind the claim that pollution impacts the skin and according to the latest study, those living in polluted cities can expect to age faster, looking a year older by the time they reach 40 (sympathies to those from Manchester, London and Leeds, named amongst the most polluted cities in the UK). Premature skin aging occurs when skin is exposed to irritants in the air, including smog and cigarette smoke. Smog, dirt and dust clogs pores, causing acne and giving the skin a dull greyish appearance. Elevated levels of air pollution and long term exposure has also been reported to cause skin allergies, sensitivity and skin disorders including eczema and dermatitis.
On a deeper level skin level, Particles from environmental pollutants are capable of seeping into the skin and inducing the generation of free radicals which deplete oxygen in skin cells and decrease collagen production. This oxidation leads to inflammation, hyperpigmentation and a breakdown of collagen, causing rough, damaged skin.
How to fight it?
Short of fleeing to the skin-friendly countryside, it is unlikely that you can completely avoid the effects of pollution. By covering the basics with your skincare regime you can aim to either prevent or rectify skin damage caused by pollution.
- Proper Cleansing Regime
Remove pollutants and dirt from your skin through a proper cleansing regime. In Asia, the double cleanse method is frequently used to remove both oil and water based impurities that build up on the face.
- Daily Antioxidants
Antioxidants help to fend off free radical damage and counteract the pollution we encounter from urban environments. Look for moisturizers, and serums that contain antioxidant vitamins C and E.
- Deep Moisturisation
Counteract the dehydrating effects of pollution and use a deep moisturiser to strengthen the natural skin barrier and boost skin’s resilience.
- Wear Sunscreen
Wearing sunscreen not only protects from sun damage, it also creates a barrier and protects from the harmful effects of pollution. UV rays can work with toxic particle matter in the air to further increase damage to the skin. Make sure you are protected from environmental sources of ageing and slather on the sun protection!
Do not feel you have to fork out for products purely due to their anti-pollution claims, be clever, read the ingredients and look to cover the following areas in your skincare regime. Many products without anti-pollution branding will do the job and they do not have to cost an arm and a leg!