You're probably already aware of the fact that London is one of the most polluted cities in the world. According to TFL, “More than two million Londoners, including 400,000 children, live in areas that exceed current air pollution limits," and while you might think that living in North Dulwich means you're in a safe zone, think again. “Pollution affects every borough in the city, not just Central London," the TFL team continues.
And while it's certainly having an effect on your overall health – as harmful gases and particles can enter the bloodstream and increase heart and lung disease and asthma – pollution also has a serious effect on your skin.
“Exposure to air and particle pollution significantly correlates to an increase in signs of skin ageing,” explains Sally Penford, Dermalogica's director of education. “Air pollution contains microscopic contaminants called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which help produce reactive oxygen species (ROS), or free radicals. These strip the skin of barrier lipids, which help retain moisture and keep out dirt and other impurities. A compromised skin barrier can lead to increased skin sensitivity, discomfort and premature signs of skin ageing, especially pigmentation issues,” she continues.
And, unfortunately, there's no getting away from it. Pollution is imperceptible in the air, so your skin is probably being attacked as you read this. “In general, pollution weakens your skin,” explains Penford. “Antioxidants, along with peptides and vitamins, help strengthen the skin and neutralise the primary triggers of skin ageing. Look for products that contain ingredients such as antioxidant white tea, as well as micro-encapsulated vitamins A, C and E (all antioxidants). A potent vitamin C serum offers great skin defence and firming benefits.”
“And don't forget sunscreen. Protecting your skin from pollution doesn't mean you should skimp on sunscreen. UV rays are still a top contributor to signs of skin ageing, so wear an SPF30 or higher daily," Penford concludes.
So to help you out, below are the best grooming products you can buy to kickstart your anti-pollution skincare regime...
Murad Environmental Shield Essential-C Night Moisture, $85 at murad.co.uk
Howard Murad, the board-certified dermatologist, trained pharmacist and associate clinical professor at the Geffen School of Medicine, UCLA, started his eponymous brand in 1989, the first clinical skincare in the world. Its Environmental Shield range is designed specifically for those living in cities or exposed to pollution. When applied, Murad's Essential-C Night Moisture reverses the daily damage caused by exposure to UV rays, pollutants and toxins while you sleep, thanks to a blend of vitamins A, C and E, which encourage cell turnover, and a patented skin repair system, which promotes cell renewal and collagen production.
Ren Flash Defence Anti-Pollution Mist, $31 at spacenk.com
This anti-pollution spray from Ren does exactly as it says on the label and combats damage caused by urban pollutants. With one spray (you can apply this over your moisturiser each morning) your skin is given a layer of biosaccharide, the active super ingredient derived from sorbitol, commonly known as a sweetener, that moisturises skin and has anti-inflammatory properties. This means your skin is given a protective barrier against cigarette smoke and exhaust fumes, as well as against UV rays. Hurrah.
De Mamiel Atmosphériques Intense Nurture Antioxidant Elixir, $115 at cultbeauty.co.uk
If you live anywhere within Zones One to Six in London, then you're going to want to douse your face in this. De Mamiel's Atmosphériques Intense Nurture Antioxidant Elixir is essentially a cocktail of deflective antioxidants – a free radical-fighting unique blend of rose, myrrh and vetiver and hylauronic acid and ceramides. Working to combat accelerated skin ageing caused by pollutants, it'll also leave your skin plumped and line-free. What's not to love?
Dr Barbara Sturm Anti-Pollution Drops, $144 at cultbeauty.co.uk
Not only will this cult brand's drops protect your skin from environmental pollution, they'll also fight against blue light and technological pollution that you're exposed to all day in the office. The anti-oxidant-rich serum consists of a special extract derived from micro-organisms found in French Polynesia and an active ingredient found in cocoa seeds, which together create a protective barrier on your skin to prevent a pollutant attack. Apply each and every morning, by adding to your cream or serum.
Dermalogica Daily Superfoliant, $72 at dermalogica.co.uk
After cleansing “follow with the anti-pollution powder exfoliant, Daily Superfoliant, to fight the biochemical and environmental triggers known to accelerate skin aging, and prevent the adherence of skin-ageing pollutants for firmer, healthier-looking skin," instructs Penford. This microfoliant uses a blend of activated binchotan charcoal, which purifies the skin, helping to adsorb environmental toxins from deep within the pores, and niacinamide, red Algae and Tara fruit extract, which help guard against the damaging effects of pollution.
Dr Sebagh Skin Perfecting Mask, $55 at selfridges.com
This mask contains the natural ingredient kaolin, which not only has absorbent properties, but also provides an astringent effect to the skin and, since it is electromagnetically charged, it helps to clear away dirt, pollution and other impure particles. Use twice weekly and you'll instantly notice a difference. Farewell clogged pores.
Nivea Urban Skin Defence, $10 at boots.com
A blend of natural ingredients, this super-lightweight day cream is not only moisturising (you'll have a 48-hour moisture boost once applied), but will decrease the chances of harmful pollutants getting into your pores, thanks to the inclusion of super anti-oxidising bio green tea extract. For optimal results, use with Nivea's Urban Detox Night Cream.