It seems like skincare is having a historic moment. Experts have been raising awareness of cleansing before bed, using sunscreen in the morning and combining serums for glowing skin. Now, we can add anti-pollution skincare products to our list of must-have beauty items.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 92 percent of people around the world live in cities that do not comply with WHO air quality standards. Meanwhile, six-and-a-half million, or 11.6% of all global deaths, are associated with indoor and outdoor air pollution. That number has more than doubled since 2012.
Sales of skincare products formulated to combat the effects of toxic chemical substances found in the air that find their way onto our skin are rapidly increasing. Online searches for anti-pollution skincare are up by 73 percent. Liberty, a London-based luxury department store, has seen sales of its anti-pollution skincare line increase by 166 percent.
“Our customers are very attuned to the topic and definitely associate pollution with skin aging,” Emily Bell, the store’s beauty buyer told the Guardian.
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Dr. Ross Perry, medical director of CosmedicsUK, says that the effects of pollution on our skin have been a cause for concern for a while. “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.
According to Sara Waterman, head aesthetician at Young LDN, pollution can deprive the skin of oxygen and result in inflammation, leading to sensitivity and premature aging. Toxic chemicals found in the air can also cause acne and skin dehydration, generating fine lines, wrinkles, and pigmentation.
“The air now contains pollutes both gaseous and non-gaseous,” says 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.”
She adds that smog is a massive problem for urban dwellers since it divests our skin of oxygen, causing long-term cell damage, loss of skin elasticity, and premature wrinkles. Dr. Raja recommends having a deep-cleansing facial periodically to prevent the long-term effects of pollution. “By reaching deep into the pores you can remove the toxins which removes the risk of any further damage to the skin,” she explains.
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In addition, Dr. Perry suggests double-cleansing to ensure that dirt and impurities are removed from the skin, as well as using an antioxidant-rich moisturizer to shield the skin from free-radical damage. It is also important to apply products that block skin receptors from absorbing pollution. “And always use an SPF of at least 30, even during winter as our skin is still susceptible to damage,” he adds.
A good option is using products that contain the antioxidant vitamin C, which can safeguard skin cells against environmental damage and counteract toxins. Also, products containing niacinamide, a form of vitamin B3, can help repair the barriers of the skin, according to Dr. Alain Mavon, head of Oriflame’s research and skincare institute in Sweden.