I live in Los Angeles, a huge metropolis with a well-deserved reputation for being incredibly polluted. As an Angeleno, I spend a large part of my day in my car, stuck in a sea of traffic. At the end of the day, my skincare routine includes a double cleanse—even if I skip makeup. If I forget this step in my routine, I usually see dirt on my cotton pads. It’s a startling reminder of the toll that city life has on my complexion.
And clearly I’m not the only one. Anti-pollution skincare is a growing trend.
Does Air Pollution Really Damage Your Skin?
Our skin is designed to protect us from the elements, but living in a densely packed metropolis substantially increases the amount of air pollution; microscopic particles come from exhaust fumes, cigarette smoke, and industrial emissions.
Currently, over 142 million Americans live in areas where the air quality fails to meet the National Ambient Air Quality Standards. This pollution effect is heightened if you’re a commuter and habitually walk over subway platforms.
The latest research indicates that our skin responds negatively to this influx of pollution, resulting in:
- Free radical generation
- Increased inflammation
- Skin barrier damage
What this means for the average person is dull skin, sensitized skin, blemishes, and of course, clogged pores.
Prolonged exposure to pollution can even contribute to a breakdown of collagen and accelerated aging.
Skincare Ingredients That Fight Pollution Damage
If you’re living in a city or dense urban area, anti-pollution skincare could be the answer to your pollution woes. Today’s best skincare solutions include these pollution-fighting powerhouse ingredients:
Vitamin C: this antioxidant powerhouse helps block the formation of free radicals (unstable atoms that can damage cells and potentially cause accelerated aging) and prevent hyperpigmentation.
Niacinamide: a potent form of vitamin B3. Niacinamide calms inflammation, repairs the skin barrier, and brightens the complexion. And it’s essential to have in your skincare routine if you live in a bustling city.
Salicylic acid and lactic acid: help exfoliate your skin and unclog pores. These exfoliating ingredients are major players in anti-aging skincare routines. Look for them in cleansers and serums.
Sunscreen: this essential skincare ingredient should be the last step in your skincare routine. It not only protects skin against the damaging effects of the sun, but it can also prevent the degradation of collagen, a protein that gives skin its elasticity and strength. Look for a mineral-based sunscreen featuring zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide.
Living in a big city can be great for your social life, but not so great for your skin. Until the day comes when we’ve banished pollution for good, take care of your skin with skincare ingredients that fight back against aging and damage from pollution.