Anti-pollution is the new SPF

Skincare brands are recognizing that it's not just the sun that can be damaging.

In addition to UV rays, pollutants found in the air (think car exhaust fumes, cigarette smoke, or particles emitted from buildings) can also negatively impact skin. “These substances can yield inflammation, which in turn can lead to hyperpigmentation and collagen breakdown causing increased wrinkle formation,” says Carlos Charles, MD, a New York City-based dermatologist. Additionally, a recent study conducted in China confirmed that traffic-related pollution correlates with increased age spots.

While these airborne toxins are a byproduct of living in a city, beauty and grooming brands have taken steps to help us protect against potential damage. “The best way to directly combat the deleterious effects of pollution is to add a topical antioxidant to your daily skincare regimen,” says Charles. “Products containing vitamin C and E as well as the use of retinoids can be beneficial in minimizing and preventing unwanted effects.”

Here, four to try now.

skinceuticals c e ferulic®

This vitamin C-rich serum is said to be effective in boosting skin’s firmness and preventing the damage caused by free radicals for 72 hours. Apply four to five drops to a dry face, neck, and chest in the morning after showering and using a toner.
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kiehl's cilantro and orange extract pollutant defending masque

Replenish tired skin with this antioxidant-rich face mask featuring cilantro extract, which is purported to help draw out pollutants on the skin. Leave it on your face for five minutes after you wash and apply moisturizer in the evening.
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ren flash defence anti-pollution mist

If you like to keep things simple in the morning, spray your face and neck with this formula, which is ideal for all skin types. It’s said to help protect against oxidative, environmental, and inflammatory stress and also acts as a setting spray for makeup.
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clarins uv plus anti-pollution sunscreen

This lightweight, oil-free cream combines SPF with extracts from organic cantaloupe and the alpine sanicle plant, which are believed to help fight pollutants. Use it in the morning before you go outside.
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