Anti-pollution or “urban living” skincare is the newest trend that we all need to be aware of. But does it really work? Can a simple cream or serum really protect us against pollutants in the air? And what effects do these pollutants have on our skin in the first place? We’ll give you some of the facts so you can decide for yourself.
With many of us living or working in an urban metropolis, we’re now more exposed to daily doses of pollution, dirt and grime, both in the air and on our skin. You’ve seen the images of densely populated cities such as London, Beijing and Delhi clouded in a smog of pollution. Well, this is something we may have to get used to.
Not only is clean air important for our lungs, it’s also important for our skin, which is why skincare brands are introducing new products to help protect our skin when pollution is part of our daily lives.
We’re already aware of the damage caused by sun exposure and other environmental factors, but what effect does pollution have on our skin?
Pollution comes in a range of different forms, one of which is particulate matter (known as PM2.5). Particulate matter are tiny particles (sometimes up to 20 times smaller than your pores!), which can penetrate the skin through the pores reaching the deeper layers of the epidermis and creating free radicals which can cause untold damage both underneath the skin and on the surface.
Once particulate matter penetrates the skin, free radicals are free to bounce around the deeper layers – bumping into healthy cells and damaging them in the process. This can cause a range of different issues including inflammation and irritation, which in-turn worsens pre-existing conditions such as dryness, acne and eczema.
The damage caused by these free radicals also prematurely ages the skin by contributing to loss of firmness and elasticity which leads to wrinkles and age spots, which we all want to avoid for as long as possible!
Protecting your skin naturally
Protecting your skin against pollution starts with the basic principles of good skin care. Keeping your skin moisturised and hydrated will help to maintain its natural barrier against the elements, whilst ensuring the skin is thoroughly cleaned in the evening to remove all impurities will help to aid repair and recovery.
In addition to this, your skin would love a little help to fight off those nasty free radicals caused by particulate matter. The three things you should consider are; Defend, De-Stress and Cleanse – with the use of natural products that are high in antioxidants, vitamins and active ingredients to protect the skin without the use of harsh chemicals.
Protection against pollution begins with good skin care routines that preserve your skin’s natural defences. After applying SPF, the use of a rich moisturiser with hyaluronic acid will help to maintain hydration throughout the day – nourishing and restoring the skin and setting a strong base for anti-pollution products to work their magic.
To help protect your skin further, anti-pollution mists and moisturisers create a second, invisible barrier or film on the surface of the skin. This non-coagulative barrier doesn’t clog the pores and instead shields against particulate matter from penetrating the skin. Not only does this barrier prevent the pollution from sinking into your skin, it also helps with the removal of pollution particles when you clean your skin in the evening.
Pollution in the form of particulate matter can wreak havoc with your skin, especially if pollution particles are able to penetrate the deeper layers. Using protective products high in antioxidants help to defend your skin against free radicals which cause oxidative stress and hasten the aging process. Choose products with a high potency of natural antioxidants such as Vitamin C to neutralise free radicals before they can cause too much damage and prevent inflammation and irritation.
Cleanse and repair
After a long day of exposure, you’ll want to thoroughly cleanse your skin to remove any impurities and pollutants, both on the surface and in the deeper layers of the skin. Clean the skin with a gentle, hydrating cleanser to remove any residue without causing additional stress or damage to the skin.
You’ll then need help to restore your skin’s natural barrier with an antioxidant rich serum or moisturiser. Choose a rich, nourishing product with natural ingredients that won’t irritate your skin. If you want to ensure your product has maximum antioxidant potency, choose one packaged in an airless glass bottle as this prevents the product from oxidising.
What to look for in your skincare products
We all know that wearing a daily SPF helps to prevent damage caused by the sun, and sun protection products are easily labelled to let us know just how much protection they can provide. For example, SPF 50 is one of the highest protection factors you can buy – simple enough to add into your daily routine. So, what is the equivalent for protection against pollution? Well, unfortunately a standard protection factor for pollution doesn’t quite exist – yet. Most brands market and clearly label anti-pollution products to make things easier for you, however you may not need to buy these specific products to get the best protection for your skin.
Look for products containing high levels of antioxidants, with ingredients such as Vitamin C to fight off free radicals and create a defensive barrier against pollution. Other ingredients such as hyaluronic acid enhance hydration through natural collagen assimilation – helping your skin to maintain and restore its own natural barrier.
All of KIATA’s products are formulated with exclusive natural and organic actives (such as unique seaweed extracts sourced from different regions of the world) which contain high levels of antioxidants to create a lightweight yet defensive barrier against pollution – keeping your skin radiant and protected throughout the day. In addition, our products contain high dosages of Vitamin C and Hyaluronic Acid actives, to answer all your skin desires.
To learn more about our products, please see here.