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It’s well known that pollution can wreak havoc on the environment, as well as pulmonary and cardiovascular health, but scientists are just starting to understand the effects it can also have on the skin. Some pollution particles are 20 times smaller than pores, which means they can creep in causing inflammation and dehydration as well as leading to lost elasticity and firmness.
“Hands down the best thing to put on your skin for pollution is going to be antioxidants,” says Lisa Goodman, the founder of GoodSkin Los Angeles in Brentwood, California. She adds, “Free radicals come about when normal, happy, functioning cells are mutated by pollutants in the air, especially in more urban locations, so as a result, they age and dry us out.”
Los Angeles remains the nation’s leader in harmful ozone pollution from car tailpipe emissions, while New York comes in at #14 according to the American Lung Association State of the Air 2016 report. Chronic exposure to traffic-related air pollution can contribute to the development of facial lentigines (otherwise known as dark spots) in Caucasian women, according to 2016’s study on the Influence of Air Pollution on Lung Function, Inflammation and Aging, and even simple surface interactions can alter the composition of the skin causing dryness and acne.
But beauty companies are taking steps to keep shoppers glowing. There’s been a recent boom in the development of anti-pollution products. Here are 5 formulas that will up your defense against harmful particles and get your skin glowing in time for the warm weather months.
“I would 100% recommend Phloretin CF by Skinceuticals ($165),” says Goodman. The serum features a combination of phloretin, pure vitamin C (l-ascorbic acid), and ferulic acid “for enhanced protection against atmospheric aging, environmental damage and premature signs caused by all of that along with protection from UVA/UVB, infrared radiation (IRA), and ozone,” explains Goodman who advises to use it once a day in the morning, letting it dry before putting on a layer of sunscreen over it. “It is worth every penny!”
Dr. David Colbert recommends the NYDG Luminizing Skin Essence ($105), which is described as a mix between a serum and a toner, from his own product line. “The line shields skin from the elements and the formulas contain high levels of antioxidants to counter the effects of pollution and environment stressors,” says the dermatologist who counts Naomi Watts as a patient. It can be applied multiple times a day “whenever the skin feels dry” and was used backstage at the 2016 Victoria Secret fashion show in Paris on the models’ faces and bodies. “It features the antioxidant pomegranate, soothing willow herb and rose extract to refresh and rebalance — and it gives that glowy look to self tanner.”
Colbert also uses the Chem-Free SPF 30 ($98) every day. Says the New York-based doctor of the sunscreen: “It took over 2 years to develop and I tested it every step of the way, while I was surfing in Costa Rica or riding my bike through the streets of New York City. It’s a hybrid formula that combines a luxurious antioxidant-rich moisturizer with a chemical-free SPF.”
“Pollution is invisible, inescapable and damages your skin on a daily basis,” says Chris Salgardo, President of Kiehl’s USA. “We formulated our Cilantro & Orange Extract Pollutant Defending Masque ($18) because we wanted to create a product that treats and protects against those damaging effects of pollution.” The orange extract helps block oxidative damage, while Vitamin E and cilantro seed oil nourish and strengthen skin. The overnight masque repairs skin and protects it from future exposure.
St.Tropez Gradual Tan Plus Luminous Veil Everyday Illuminating Face Cream ($35) is a lightweight face cream that promises brighter and more youthful-looking skin. Avocado oil keeps the skin hydrated for up to 24 hours, while South Korean Camilla Flower extract Red Snow acts as an anti-pollutant, protecting and shielding the skin from aggressors that lead to a loss of vibrancy and clarity. “Gradual Tan Plus Range gives instant skincare benefits and long term tanning and toning results and has become a staple part of my morning beauty regimen,” says Sophie Evans, St.Tropez tanning and skin finishing expert. The cream can be used as a base or primer under makeup. Evans adds, “The brand has tapped into the evolution of anti-aging facial skincare products, as well as adding instant skin perfecting particles for that high definition, airbrushed finish.”
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