We’ve looked into the impact of pollution on our skin and share our top anti-pollution skincare products for fighting the elements in an urban jungle

Words Rosie Reynolds 

HOW DOES POLLUTION AFFECT YOUR SKIN?

Pollution. Commonly associated with global warming and a threat to the environment. Now however, scientists are taking interest in the extremely damaging impact it has on our skin. Fossil fuel emissions in the atmosphere contain microscopic chemicals that are so small – sometimes 20 times smaller than your pores – that they can reach to the deeper layers of your skin.

When these chemicals penetrate the lower levels of the skin’s epidermis, a chemical process occurs in which nasty free-radicals bounce around trying to attach themselves to an electron, which they can steal from a healthy skin cell. Once the first cell is destabilised, a domino effect occurs. This triggers a chain reaction where more and more cells are impaired by the free-radicals.

The reason why this is so damaging is because of the oxidative stress that your skin undergoes while it is trying to repair itself. Acne and rosacea are exacerbated due to an increase in inflammation. As collagen production begins to slow, the skin essentially can’t keep up with the pace of damage caused by the rogue free-radicals. Over time, this begins to visibly reveal itself through hyperpigmentation, dark spots and a loss of firmness and elasticity. A clinical study that Olay conducted even claimed that people living in the city age 10 times faster than those in the countryside. The cause: pollution, an inescapable consequence of city-life.

A depressing prospect, particularly when pollutant particles are such a microscopic enemy.

Recent scientific research however, has suggested that the topical application of antioxidants can effectively prevent and protect the skin from free-radical damage with extraordinarily successful results.

WHY USE ANTIOXIDANTS?

These are nutrients that can give one of their healthy electrons to a damaged skin cell. Antioxidants neutralise threatening free-radicals through their ability to donate a ‘healthy’ electron to an incomplete skin molecule before the polluting chemical can attach itself and cause further cellular damage.

When applied in the morning, antioxidants are viewed by dermatologists as one of the most effective methods of protecting your skin against pollution, because they continue to destroy free-radicals on the skin’s surface throughout the day.

Some antioxidants are more effective than others, however, and ingredient percentage and quality should be a priority when choosing. The beauty market is saturated with a wealth of new antioxidant-focused formulas and ranges, making it quite an overwhelming task to find the best product for you.

Absolutely has selected a variety of outstanding pollution-busting products that we think offer the best protection for your skin in the urban jungle.

Must-have anti-pollution skincare products

ALLIES OF SKIN – 1A All-Day Pollution Repair Mask

 

pollution busters

£87; harrods.com

LIXIRSKIN – Vitamin C Paste

Lixirskin

£32; net-a-porter.com

DR ROEBUCKS – Tassie Anti-Pollution Serum

 

pollution busters

£46; spacenk.com

SUNDAY RILEY – CEO Rapid Flash Brightening Serum

 

pollution busters

£70; cultbeauty.co.uk

CHANEL – D-Pollution Essentiel

pollution busters

£48; chanel.com

111SKIN – Space Antioxidant Booster

pollution busters

£85; 111skin.com

NATURA BISSÉ – Diamond Cocoon Deep Enzymatic Cleanser

 

pollution busters

£77; spacenk.com

SKINCEUTICALS – C E Ferulic Serum

pollution busters£135; skinceuticals.co.uk