Don't get us wrong, we love city life, but urban pollution can wreak havoc on our complexions. From blocking pores (sob) to accelerating signs of ageing (bigger sob), pollutants work in many different ways to bring our skin's worst nightmares to reality. But there are ways to prevent and restore the damage caused by air pollution, so don’t start moving to the suburbs just yet. We’ve broken down the basics to bring you the best pollution-proof skincare routine…

girl in city standing against brick wall holding coffee to go

The effects of air pollution on skin

Think about all the times you fell over as a kid and got a graze that disappeared within a week or two… without a trace. That’s the magic of our skin. It’s a self-healing armour that protects our insides from external stresses. But there are some things, like air pollution, that our skin needs a helping hand with to fight off – especially if you live in an industrial area or city. Pollutants ranging from chemicals to particulates (minute particles) can cause a wide range of damage, but the three main things to be aware of are…

Oxidative damage: Pollutants in the air cause our skin to overproduce free radicals at a rate faster than our body’s natural ability to antioxidise and neutralise them. Left unattended, free radicals are a bit like your mate on a rebound at a party – highly unstable and looking to latch onto whatever they can find. They flit around your skin, stealing electrons from healthy cells and causing damage.

Premature ageing: Probably everyone’s ultimate skin stress, premature skin ageing is a consequence of overexposure to air pollutants. The chemicals found in the air can cause your skin to lose its elasticity, which can lead to fine lines and wrinkles appearing waaaaay before their cue – and NO ONE wants that.

General skin deterioration: Living in highly polluted areas and doing nothing to protect our skin can also lead to dryness, acne and dullness. Pollution can cause your skin to feel dehydrated, and particles in the air can clog your pores, leading to breakouts and blackheads.

What can help

As with most things, there are ways to combat these effects. Having a solid skincare routine that suits your environment is the way forward. Look for anything with antioxidants to help fight those free radicals, and hunt down heavy hydrators to give back your skin its suppleness. It’s also important to give your skin a good clear-out, so daily double-cleansing is essential if you want to banish all those impurities. Conclusion? It’s all about using the right ingredients and a good routine…

The ultimate pollution-proof skincare routine

  1. Always double-cleanse. Use Simple Micellar Water, which is enriched with antioxidants, to remove makeup and grime, then wash your face with Superdrug Calm Skin Soothing Facial Wash. This contains niacinamide, which is a miracle worker against the effects of pollution. It shrinks pores, reduces redness and helps tackle fine lines – lovin’ it.
  2. Anything with the words ‘intense moisture’ on the packaging is gonna help your skin cope with pollution. That’s why you should moisturise with Superdrug Vitamin E Intense Moisture Cream. It nourishes your skin, and the vitamin E helps lick hydration in your skin cells and as another antioxidant it’s gonna help fight free radicals as well.
  3. Serum is always a great step to have in your routine. Vichy Idealia Life Boosting Serum contains antioxidants to help fight against the effects of pollution, smoke and stress, making it a must-have for any pollution-proof skincare routine.
  4. Before you apply your makeup, use Protected Anti-Pollution Shielding Primer with SPF30 to guard your skin against both pollutants and UV. This will leave your face looking smoother and provide a hardy barrier against any environmental stresses.
Simple Simple Micellar Water 200ml £4.95 Buy Now
Superdrug Superdrug Calm Skin Soothing Facial Wash 150ml £2.99 Buy Now
Vitamin E Superdrug Vitamin E Intense Moisture Cream 100ml £2.99 Buy Now
Vichy Vichy Idealia Life Boosting Serum 30ml £29.99 Buy Now
B. B. Protected Anti-Pollution Shielding Primer SPF30 30ml £12.99 Buy Now

You should add a couple more steps into your skincare a couple times a week. Exfoliate with Sanctuary Spa Triple Cleansing Mousse, made with microfine exfoliator to power through all that dirt and grime. Treat yourself to a detoxifying mask once a week as well. The Nivea 1 Minute Urban Detox Mask is our top pick as it’s formulated to soothe the skin stresses of urban environments… and it only takes a minute, so it’s super-speedy for all you city slickers.

Sanctuary Spa Sanctuary Spa Triple Cleansing Mousse 150ml £11.99 Buy Now
Nivea NIVEA Face Mask Urban Detox Purify, 75ml £6.99 Buy Now