It clogs the pores, dulls the skins and weighs down the hair. These short-term effects seem small compared to the damage that causes premature signs of ageing - cue dramatic music. And for more bad news, while pollution is worse in cities, it's pretty bad everywhere. Read on to understand the effect pollution has and how to protect your skin.
Pollutants can penetrate layers of the skin and damage our cells. In the epidermis, it depletes levels of vitamin E, in other words moisture. In the dermis, it can cause the degeneration of connective tissues. This can lead to inflammation and dehydration, and the decline of skin elasticity and firmness. With pollution comes the dreaded free radicals. A free radical is a chemically unstable particle that lacks an electron. In an attempt to recover the missing electron, they steal electrons from the body's cells. The stolen electron doesn't fix the free radical though. Instead there are now two damaged cells, which prompts a chain reaction as the newly damaged cell goes on to steal from others. All of this damage can manifest itself as accelerated ageing. You can see what all the worry is about.
It is only within the last decade that these effects have been acknowledged and linked to global rising levels of air pollution. As so often happens, the beauty industry becomes saturated with products targeting this concern paired with a dose of scare-mongering to convince consumers that they have to have a whole anti-pollution routine. The truth is, if you already have a routine tailored to your skin type that features high quality ingredients and an SPF, you're fighting half the battle already. Of course, integrating specific anti-pollution products into your routine can only help, but it's not necessary to revamp your entire skincare collection.
See below for an example of an effective pollution-busting routine; it's comprehensive to say the least, but some of the steps aren't as critical as others.
As far as cleansing is concerned, the infamous double cleanse is thought to be the best course of action. Go in with an oil-based cleanser first to remove the surface layer of impurities and follow with a gel- or foam-based cleanser to really cleanse deep into the upper dermal layers. Repeat this in the evening to clear the day from your skin.
On to the most important part of the routine. A serum or moisturiser saturated with antioxidants is generally accepted as one of the most powerful defences against pollution. Our favourites would have to be the SkinCeuticals vitamin C range. Worth a special mention, their CE Ferulic is proven to offer the skin eight times its natural protection - take that free radicals. Antioxidants in general protect the skin against free radicals, thereby preventing oxidative stress and premature ageing.
Now is the time that you could introduce a more targeted anti-pollution solution. With a market-full of products to choose from, it can be hard to decide which is best for you. If you've already got a serum or moisturiser packed full of antioxidants, then a facial mist could be what you're missing. It all comes down to layering the products to keep pollution on the surface rather than penetrating into the dermal layers. Enter our new Anti-Pollution Facial Mist. With natural antioxidant peptides, our handbag-worthy mist defends against free radicals, infrared light and glycation. Perfect for use under and over makeup, apply in the morning and top up as the day goes on. The best part is that the nourishing formula brightens the skin while balancing oil levels. Looks good, does good.
The last step of any skincare routine should always be applying SPF. By now, we're hoping that you have a trusty sun cream as part of your inner circle: if not take a quick peek at the SkinCeuticals Protect collection. Expect nothing short of broad spectrum UVA and UVB protection. SPF gives another barrier to the skin, layering the defence against pollutant particles. And that's a wrap!