Dull skin got you down? Chances are, it’s because of pollution. Light pollution (that’s UVA and UVB rays, the blue light from your screens), gases in the atmosphere such as nitrogen dioxide, ozone, carbon monoxide and sulphur dioxide, and also nano particles of dust, dirt or smoke alike can all wreck havoc on your skin’s barrier function. Even the chemicals that come from your household cleaners are part of the culprit.
All of these pollutants generate what we know as free radicals in the air, which snatch electrons from your body and gradually compromise your health. They also break down your body’s natural collagen, causing our skin’s structural integrity to be weakened and causing skin ageing — yes, being exposed to pollution has been shown to result in wrinkles.
Pollution can also cause irritation, rashes and breakouts, while dirt particles can clog pores — mixed with sebum and dead skin cells, this causes blackheads, and even acne and inflammation.
Coupled with living in a densely populated city — and even in rural areas, surrounded by chemicals used in farming practices — also means there’s no escaping pollution.
To mitigate dryness, exacerbated skin ageing and breakouts caused by pollution, make sure to equip your skincare routine with the right cleansers and protective creams, serums and sprays. Check out our list below for all the essentials.
Shu Uemura Skin Purifier Cleansing Oil
Cleansing off the grime from the smoggy air should be your top skincare priority, and Shu Uemura has just the product for that. Its famed cleansing oil comes in an anti-pollution version, fortified with Japanese ginseng, a powerful antioxidant to detox your complexion from those pesky particles that compromise your skin health.
HK$670, available from Shu Uemura.
RéVive Defensif Environmental Antioxidant Booster
A couple of drops of this RéVive booster in your daily moisturiser can help save an extra layer of skincare, plus provide all the benefits of an antioxidant-packed regime. Superoxide Dismutase, Turmeric, Green Tea, Vitamins E and C help to protect the skin from environmental stress, while RéVive’s signature Bio-Renewal Protein works to renew the skin.
HK$1,365, available from Joyce Beauty.
Sisleyouth Anti-Pollution is a light, airy lotion that acts as a screen against pollution from the indoors and outdoors as well as harmful light emitted from our device screens. Organic buckwheat seed extract, a powerful antioxidant, pea extract and vitamin E help to strengthen the skin’s natural defences, while Sisley’s star active ingredient, organic ginkgo biloba leaf extract actively protects the skin from damaging free radicals.
HK$1,380/40ml, available from Sisley.
MTM Custom-Blended Overnight Re-Boost Mask
We raved about this anti-pollution overnight mask when it first came out, which is tailor-made with boosters depending on your skin’s condition. Zostera Marine Extract promotes collagen synthesis to improve your skin barrier function, while meadowfoam seed oil also helps to prevent skin dehydration and oxidation. Finally, with dual hyaluronic acids, the mask not only quenches parched skin, it also forms an invisible ‘hydro-shield’ to further protect your skin from harmful substances in the air. It glides on white but sets clear, leaving no residue on your pillowcase. You’ll want to shop at new MTM concept store at K11 Musea to try its newest skin analysis gadget to determine what boosters you’ll need in your custom-blended mask.
HK$890, available from MTM Skincare.
Wei Beauty Golden Root Purifying Mud Mask
Backed by Chinese medicine philosophies, Wei Beauty uses herbal tinctures and recipes from TCM to balance the skin. This silky purifying mud mask deeply cleans and detoxes skin. Golden root in particular helps to soothe oxidative damage and calms down stressed-out skin, while pure China clay absorbs impurities and gently clears out clogged pores.
HK$330, available from Joyce Beauty and Lane Crawford.
Dr. Barbara Sturm Anti Pollution Drops
This serum by dermatological world heavyweight Dr. Barbara Sturm provides targeted protection against air pollution and blue light emitted from our screens alike. It supports the skin’s natural barrier function, while also combatting oxidation and inflammation brought on by the environment with a French Polynesian marine microbe extract (which also gives off a healthy, covetable glow). You can apply it directly or mix it with your moisturiser.
HK$1,300 from Joyce Beauty and Lane Crawford.
Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair Synchronized Recovery Complex II
Estée Lauder’s award-winning little brown bottle — the Advanced Night Repair serum — is a must-have for anyone who needs to repair the impact of environmental stressors such as blue light, pollution, UV and ozone, as well as lack of sleep. With its unique blend of hyaluronic acid, anti-oxidants and anti-pollution technology, this advanced serum works as you sleep to hydrate the skin, fix damaged cells, and neutralise free radicals before they can wreck any havoc.
HK$1,050 from Estée Lauder.
Urban Decay All Nighter Anti-Pollution Setting Spray
UD’s All Nighter makeup setting spray has achieved holy grail status when it comes to ensuring your look stays put all day and night. This edition is a double whammy that infuses the spray with minerals (zinc, magnesium and copper) that also help shield against free radicals and preventing environmental aggressors from damaging the skin.
HK$300, available from Sephora.
Dr Roebuck’s Tassie Anti-Pollution Serum
A good anti-pollution skincare regimen isn’t just deployed in the daytime, but at night as well. Dr Roebuck’s Tassie serum is the perfect nighttime product to replenish skin that has dealt with an onslaught of bad air during the day, thanks to the use of blueberry extract and amino acids in the serum, two nourishing ingredients filled with rejuvenating goodness.
HK$415, available from Sephora.
Sunday Riley CEO C+E Antioxidant Protect + Repair Moisturizer
Vitamin C is known to help brighten the skin’s appearance, but this bright orange jar by cult beauty brand Sunday Riley also fights damage caused by UVB exposure and environmental stress. As the moisturiser sinks into the skin, exopolysaccharides protect the skin specifically from PM 2.5, micro particles found in smog.
HK$530, available from Sephora.
This article originally appeared in Lifestyle Asia Singapore, and was updated by Evelyn Lok.