What is pollution doing to our skin and which products will protect us?

Sales of anti-pollution skincare are on the rise [Image: Getty]
Sales of anti-pollution skincare are on the rise [Image: Getty]

We’ve been picking up some good habits of late when it comes to our skincare routines – make-up cleansed off before bed, SPF massaged in every morning and cocktail routine of serums to help us glow.

And now it seems we can add fighting pollution to that list.

Sales of beauty products designed to ward off the worst effects of toxic chemical substances – that linger in the air and greet our faces every time we leave the house – are on the rise.

Indeed, online searches for anti-pollution skincare, that protects against urban environmental damage, are up by 73 per cent.

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Liberty, the London-based luxury department store, has also seen a spike of 166 per cent in people purchasing from its anti-pollution skincare range.

“Our customers are very attuned to the topic and definitely associate pollution with skin ageing,” Emily Bell, the store’s beauty buyer told the Guardian.

Dr Ross Perry, medical director of CosmedicsUK, has revealed that experts have been concerned for a while about the effect of pollution on our skin.

“We are all exposed to vast amounts of it on a daily basis, and many of us have been aware of the damage it can have on the skin for many years,” he says.

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Using an SPF and antioxidant-rich moisturiser is key [Image: Getty]
Using an SPF and antioxidant-rich moisturiser is key [Image: Getty]

What is pollution doing to our skin?

“Pollution starves your skin of oxygen and causes inflammation, which leads to sensitivity and premature ageing,” says Sara Waterman, head aesthetician at Young LDN.

“It can also cause acne and dehydration in the skin, which then triggers fine lines, wrinkles and pigmentation.”

And its certain aspects of air quality in particular that are having an effect on our faces.

“The air now contains pollutes both gaseous and non gaseous,” explains Dr Nyla Raja, a cosmetic doctor.

“The non-gaseous are very tiny particles and are small enough to get deep into pores where regular cleanses can’t always reach and so cause on-going skin problems such as acne, dryness or rashes.

“Smog is also a huge problem for our skin particularly for those living in cities. Smog starves our skin of oxygen which can cause long term damage to cells.

“Elasticity in the skin is lost and so premature wrinkles can form.”

Which anti-pollution products can really help us?

Firstly, you need to be cleansing well every evening – and certainly not just to take off your make-up.

“A double-cleanse to ensure that all dirt and impurities are removed from the surface layer of the skin is a good starting point,” says Dr Perry.

Dr Raja suggests having a deep-cleansing facial every so often that can prevent pollution having a long-lasting impact.

“By reaching deep into the pores you can remove the toxins which removes the risk any further damage to the skin,” she explains.

In the morning, applying products that block the receptors in the skin absorbing pollution is also essential.

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“An antioxidant-rich moisturiser will help protect the skin against free-radical damage,” recommends Dr Perry.

“And always use an SPF of at least 30, even during winter as our skin is still susceptible to damage.”

Opting for products containing the antioxidant vitamin C can “protect skin cells against environmental damage and neutralise toxins”, says Dr Howard Murad.

Additionally, using products containing niacinamide, a form of vitamin B3, can likewise assist in repairing the barriers of the skin, according to Dr Alain Mavon, head of Oriflame’s research and skincare institute in Sweden.

Be right back, we’re just off to triple-cleanse…

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