I was recently interviewed by Tara Walsh for the BBC News about the nefarious effects of pollution on skin, so noteworthy is the number of products now citing anti-pollution benefits, and so voracious is the appetite for them, if sales are anything to go by.
As is always the case when recording for TV, time was of the essence and out of necessity they distilled my thoughts to a couple of sentences, so I thought I’d flesh out my stance here. (By the way my opinion is, as always, informed by the experts I trust combined with a bit of logic and, I hope, some good sense.)
First, not all ‘anti-pollution’ products actually do the job of undoing the effects of pollution, and many products without any indicator that they are anti-pollution will help to combat it. Think of it in advertising terms for food – something that states it is low in sugar may indeed be low in sugar, but, equally, a head of broccoli is relatively low in sugar but doesn’t make that statement on the label.
A good example of this in skincare? Antioxidants, which are touted to give skin a hand on anything from stress to sun exposure to smoke. Irrespective of which one the marketing guys go for, it’ll help your skin to combat pollution.
I don’t wish to scaremonger, but you should probably heed the advice that pollution is just as bad – though of course not potentially fatal – for your skin as it is for your lungs or for any other part of you. But apply reason. If you live on a farm in the middle of the country, you probably don’t need to worry at all. If, however, like me, you live in London and walk its traffic-packed streets daily, your skin will invariably be compromised by the pollution in the air and if you place value on having healthy skin, you should probably take some measures to protect yours.
My approach to tackling it is threefold, although my philosophy when it comes to skincare/health is almost always holistic and in this case I think that’s the most sound approach, so these will all also look after your body in other ways.
1) Fortify. This is just good sense – if your skin is strong and healthy, it’s less likely that free radicals created by particles of pollution will do as much damage. My version of fortifying is to use a good skincare regime to gently exfoliate, hydrate, and bolster my barrier. This means I’m less spotty, my skin is plumper, and it’s much more resilient when under pressure from anything external, pollution included.
2) Protect. Whenever you step outside, your skin is dealing with something – sun/wind/pollution/etc. So it makes sense to use a hydrating product to help it out, and then to add SPF, always. I like to use a foundation/tinted moisturiser for an additional barrier (and so that my skin looks better), but that is of course your call.
3) Cleanse. More important than anything else is cleansing properly when you can after heading inside to get the city and pollution off your skin. I usually cleanse with my Exuviance Cream Cleanser, twice (removing it with a clean flannel), then on occasion when my skin feels especially greasy/I’ve been roaming the streets all day, I use a clay mask (often either the Exuviance one, the This Works Evening Detox Clay Mask).
Some Products with Anti-Pollution On The Package I Rate (I’ll add to this list as/when I discover more) //
– This Works Detox Mask / This is a really good anti-inflammatory mask containing clay to draw out impurities.
– Klorane Anti-Pollution Detox Shampoo with Aquatic Mint / Due out imminently, this shampoo tackles dullness that pollution visits on hair.
– REN Flash Defence Anti-Pollution Mist / Mists appeal to me as I like the way they refresh make-up and perk skin up, so this, with ingredients designed to form an invisible shield on skin, is my choice when out and about.
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