You quit smoking, avoid tanning beds, and slather on SPF religiously. Is it enough? The newest research says nope.
WHO (the World Health Organization) states that 91% of the world’s population lives in areas where air quality exceeds safety limits.
This pollution can be found outdoors (known as “ambient pollution” as well as in our own homes and aren’t relegated to only urban areas. That means that most of us are faced with increased smog, emissions from vehicles and power plants, and cooking and heating methods indoors. In response to the increase of these pollutants and their affects on human beings, there have been a lot of brands creating anti-pollution beauty products.
While most of these products will state that this is for anti-aging or skin protection purposes, we also have to remember that the skin is our largest - and one of our most absorbent - living organs. What we absorb through our skin comes to impact our bodies. That’s why CBD massages are way more relaxing than popping an oral gel cap before bed.
We’re not telling you this to freak you out but merely to educate you on what’s science and what’s marketing.
While some beauty brands have an army of scientists devoted to providing quality products to combat pollution damage, some may have just started jumping on the bandwagon - as is common with beauty trends (like the aforementioned CBD massages).
The primary research surrounding anti-pollution skincare has shown that those who live in areas of high ambient pollution experience a decrease in squalene and vitamin E in the skin - two primary antioxidants that combat stressors to the skin. This can lead to higher levels of dehydration and loss of elasticity in the skin. Other effects are pH imbalance which leads to a higher oil production. That coupled with the increased UV rays we’re being hit with due to ozone depletion has led to an increase in SPF in these formulas.
Oxygenation vs. Oxidation
Most of the active ingredients in these products help oxygenate the skin. This means that it helps bring oxygen to the area to help with hydration in a layered way. This is what helps the skin look plump and healthy. Oxidation is the big no-no (hence antioxidants). This occurs when oxygen steals electrons from the atoms of other chemicals in the skin. This is what occurs when free radicals are unleashed onto the skin (pollution, UV exposure, etc) and leads to skin being in an unbalanced state. This leads to dullness, dehydration, and premature aging and damage to the skin layers.
These are the products we researched and tested (and trust) to help protect you from your environment. Using them is easier than quitting smoking, we can assure you.
All images courtesy of respective brands.
We have long loved KORRES for their use of natural ingredients harvested in the Mediterranean and funneled into skin saving products. There’s a reason why that region is one of the blue zones where folks often live into their early 100s.
This cleanser is loaded with probiotics and healthy proteins found in, you guessed it, Greek yogurt (or yoghurt). Lather up the cream until it turns foamy and take your time working in into your skin. The formula is gentle enough for even the most sensitive skin and utilizes amaranth seed extract to calm the skin. It also boasts honeysuckle as its natural antimicrobial (no soap!) to provide a soothing but effective way to cleanse away the days makeup and pollutants.
The result is smooth and soft skin with balanced pH and strengthened dermal layer. It also helps to note that milk has been historically used as a holistic antidote to poison so we trust it to combat today’s pollutants.
Anti-Pollution Drops - $119
Dr. Barbara Sturm has gained a solid reputation as European derm to the stars long before she had a product line in stores. In fact, her highest demanded service is the face cream she makes bespoke for each patient using their own blood. She has used science to create products for every skin type, tone, and age to keep up with modern day skin needs.
No surprise that this serum is at the cutting edge of pollution and blue light protection. Alteromonas ferment extract is the star player in this formula. The marine algae is a natural antioxidant that fights skin stressing pollutants. Coupled with hyaluronic acid and purslane (a succulent-like weed loaded with omega acids) infuse the skin with minerals, vitamins, and other natural antioxidants for plump and hydrated skin.
It can’t get much better than that, right? Wrong. Add to the mix cocoa seed extract, which has been shown to combat the dryness and stress caused by blue light technology. Also the price isn’t that bad when you take into account that this can be used on the lips, the eye area, neck, and hands. Now that’s a multi-hyphenate.
While we still don’t recommend mindless scrolling before bed, these drops can at least help with the skin damage until you’re able to ditch the habit.
This moisturizer from Elizabeth Arden has been a skin savior well ahead of the curve, much like the brands many other products. Introduced in 2016 and reformulated regularly to keep up with the demands of it’s users this has become our go-to for a protecting, unisex face cream.
The SPF in this is a mineral blend of Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide with an SPF of 50 and newer iterations of the formula have gotten rid of that white cast that often occurs with mineral formulas. This also means it’s coral reef safe so you can wear it living in a city or swimming in the sea.
The Anti-Pollution Complex includes powerful antioxidants like green tea extract and idebenone (a man-made version of CoQ-10). Amino acid thiotane and peptide L-Carnosine help to improve the elasticity and collagen of the skin. Topping it off is ferulic acid which, coupled with vitamins E and C, power the fight against free radicals and skin damage.
The results are healthier, more glowing, and protected skin. Check please!
The Eye Cream
Countermatch Eye Rescue Cream - ($39)
We are obsessed with Beautycounter for natural skincare brand that, since 2013, has led the charge on calling for regulation on ingredients in the beauty industry.
This eye cream is truly, as the name suggests, a rescue. It includes squalene, extracted from olives, to hydrate the highly reactive area around the eyes. Squalene is naturally found in skin but decreases as we age - and decreases even more with pollution. Another popular ingredient in most of these formulation is betaine. In this eye cream the powerful amino acid - extracted from sugar beets - acts as a hydrator by oxygenating the skin around the eyes. Phytic acid rounds out the trip of actives to very gently exfoliate the skin to promote brightness and radiance.
In a test group of 30 women, more than 95% saw results from this eye cream within four weeks of regular use.
The Lip Cream
Antioxidant Lip Repair - ($38)
SkinCeuticals is another heavy hitter when it comes to dermatology-backed skincare products that covers every square inch of the body. It’s not a surprise that the brand created a protective and repairing product for the lips (one of the most sensitive areas of skin on the body).
This lip cream packs a 1-2-punch with vitamin E and silymarin as its active antioxidants. While we may be familiar with the former, let’s talk about the latter. Silymarin - also known as silybum marianum extract - is the active extract taken from milk thistle seeds and just like it can help with liver detox, this ingredient can also help to detox the skin from environmental damage.
The formulation also includes peptides and hyaluronic acid to plump hydrate the skin and increase plumpness while the hydrogenated polyisobutene serves as a mineral oil substitute in giving the product slip. Since this is a derma cream, the texture makes it ideal to wear alone or under your favorite lip products. If you’re a fan of matte lipsticks but have dry, cracked lips just pop this lip repair cream on after your moisturizer (and well before your lipstick) so that it has time to condition the skin. While the instructions say that you should apply once or twice daily we would recommend re-applying more if you are outside often or live in a highly polluted area (inside or out).
Since it’s the summer, we also recommend dropping one of these in your beach back and retouching throughout the day.
Revlon has jumped headfirst into the modern age with both it’s marketing and its products. With powerhouse women like Gal Gadot and Ashley Graham (the first plus-sized model to be the face of a big beauty brand) it makes us feel powerful and represented when shopping Revlon.
It also doesn’t hurt that this foundation is bomb.com and comes in 31 shades (v. comprehensive for a drugstore brand). It delivers a medium coverage that has a natural finish to keep your skin looking like skin and stays put throughout the day. You can finish it with the brand’s Candid powder for a more matte look.
Now let’s talk ingredients, which are mostly natural. Aloe helps to hydrate and soothe the skin while protecting it from UV rays. It partners with camellia leaf extract for antioxidant and anti-carcinogen benefits (similar to green tea extract) and cucumber fruit extract for added vitamin C. What this foundation doesn’t have is synthetic dyes, oils, fragrance… or SPF, it would seem. Be sure to layer this with your favorite sunscreen (like Prevage).
When it comes to blue light and pollution protection, your foundation doesn’t have to break the bank - Revlon proves that.
The Face Mist
Vitamin Nectar Antioxidant Face Mist - $25-44
We seriously LOVE Fresh® - have you tried their Rose Face Mask (with real rose petals)?! But we digress. This is all about the face mist, which comes in two sizes and provides the most refreshing 3PM pick-me -up.
Most face mists contain alcohol or some form of exfoliating acid (lactic, glycolic, etc) which can cause skin to become dryer over time and lead to a cycle of over-misting. This product from Fresh® has none of that silliness. It has natural citrus extracts from orange and lemon to hit you with some antioxidant vitamin C as well as sugar cane and maple extracts to help pull moisture from the environment to bind with the skin - leading to a more hydrated and plump looking skin.
Rounding out this band of power players is vaccinium myrtillus fruit extract (aka good ole bilberry) which acts as an antioxidant to protect the skin against free radicals and UVA rays - the peskier of the UV rays. It also naturally calms the skin and is a helpful addition for those that have rosacea or other skin sensitivities. Magnesium, copper, and zinc also help fortify the skin against environmental attackers and help with pH balance.
The best is the mini size (100ml) is travel friendly - so we’ll be spritzing at 30,000 ft.