Antipollution skin care emerged as a trend on the beauty scene this year, with products like REN's Flash Defence Anti-Pollution Mist and Tula's Urban Defense Hydrating Mist purporting to undo and protect our skin from the elements—hello, wind, sun damage, and cold weather—as well as environmental toxins. But is it an essential step?
Holistic dermatologist Cybele Fishman, M.D., who sees New York City (cue pollution) patients every day, thinks it is. "Pollution increases inflammatory markers in the skin, changes sebum and squalene levels, and increases blood vessel formation—which play a role in some skin diseases, especially rosacea," she said. A recent study published in the journal Nature measured indoor air pollution of 30 households in China and found that exposure to indoor particulate matter, a phrase to describe pollutants such as nitrogen dioxide that are less than 2.5 microns in diameter, adversely affected the skin by expediting aging.
Danuta Mieloch, a holistic esthetician and owner of the buzzy beauty industry favorite Rescue Spa, who sees patients in New York and Philadelphia, agrees. "Pollution and the environment are changing our skin daily. Our faces are exposed to the elements, pollution, smog, and more," she said. "The weather doesn't help—changing from hot to cold and dry to moist can wreak havoc on your complexion," she added.
Of course, you're more at risk of pollution-based aging, irritation, and skin disease if you live in a city. Dr. Fishman said one of the best things you could do is give your skin a break and leave, but country living doesn't solve all our pollution woes. The best line of defense is a good ritual.
What should be in an antipollution routine? Dr. Fishman and Mieloch agreed on three key elements: