Products To Protect Your Skin From Pollution, Because It's Straightforward Once You Know How


Every year, a new skincare trend pops up, asking you to part with your precious money. While some are nothing more than fads, a few will introduce you to things that could help boost your overall skin health. Products to protect your skin from pollution appear to be this year's buzzed-about thing that's rightly captivating our attention.

Anti-pollution skincare is a funny one. It sounds ridiculous but there is some science behind the madness. It's not a secret that our planet is becoming more polluted by the day. With car fumes and industrial pollutants filling the air, our skin appears to be taking the brunt of the damage.

According to the World Health Organisation, around 91% of the world's population live in areas where pollution exceeds safety guidelines. That's probably way more than you thought, right? The most common air pollutants are polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), volatile organic compounds (VOC), and particulate matter (PM). Each of these can have a negative impact on your skin according to a study in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology.

"Pollutants trigger the immune system to produce excessive melanin which causes pigmentation and skin darkening, inflammation and weakens skin barrier, causing lines and wrinkles," dermatologist and founder of Murad skincare, Dr. Howard Murad, recently told Refinery29. "As a result, pollution is one of the major sources of concern for health and beauty."

Rene de Haan/Stocksy

Enter anti-pollution skincare. Coming in the form of creams, masks, and sprays, this new product category promises to defend your delicate skin from the toxic pollutants trying to harm it each and every day. While high-end brands have been selling pollution-fighting products for a while now, low-cost names such as Nivea are also getting in on the action.

And it's working. A report carried out by NPD in 2017 found that the market for anti-pollution skincare was rising. Its findings detailed how sales — specifically in the UK — had increased by 30% between January and June 2017, making this niche category worth an estimated £3.1 million.

When I worked in London, I used to carry an anti-pollution spray with me. Although I used it on the regular, I was never sure whether it was actually doing anything or whether I had been pulled into a new form of marketing spiel. However, experts have given their verdict and say that some of the products out there are worth investing in. These include a good and thorough cleanser, creams and serums containing antioxidants, and items containing a decent SPF.

Here are a few anti-pollution miracle workers to get you started:

Kiehl's Pollutant Defending Masque

Cilantro & Orange Extract Pollutant Defending Masque


This nourishing mask has been designed to chase away impurities and leave your skin looking its very best. Containing an antioxidant — in the form of orange extract — and cilantro to strengthen the skin, simply apply and leave overnight roughly three times a week.

Nivea Urban Skin Day Cream

Nivea Essentials Urban Skin Day Cream


Nivea's Urban Skin range offers some of the cheapest anti-pollution products on the market. Its moisturising list of ingredients — which include antioxidants, hyaluronic acid, and green tea extract — saves the skin from external pollutants. It also contains SPF 20, giving your skin that extra protection.

REN Anti-Pollution Mist

REN Flash Defence Anti-Pollution Mist

Space NK

You can spray this baby as many times as you want throughout the day. One spritz is enough to form a protective barrier over the top of your skin and also helps with damage caused by UV rays.

Clinique City Block Mask

Clinique City Block Charcoal Mask and Scrub


Clinique's anti-pollution product comes in the form of a dual mask and scrub which contains charcoal and kaolin clay to remove any impurities the skin has picked up during a tough day at work. Leave on for five minutes one to two times a week.

The Body Shop Drops of Youth

Drops of Youth Youth Fresh Emulsion SPF20 PA+++

The Body Shop

This vegan serum protects against pollution and the UVA and UVB rays given off from the sun. It's pretty lightweight so can be used in addition to your moisturiser or on its own.

This Works In Transit

This Works In Transit Camera Close-Up


Working as an all-in-one primer, mask, and moisturiser, this contains a a blend of plant-based antioxidants that keep the skin's barrier working as it should. Apply before make-up each morning for the best results.

Origins Mega Defence Oil

Dr. Andrew Weil for Origins Mega Defence Barrier-Boosting Essence Oil


A little on the pricer side, this oil was made in collaboration with holistic health expert Dr. Andrew Weil. Full of those handy antioxidants, it works to boost your skin's barrier while you sleep. Plus it's non-irritating so will work on even the most sensitive of faces.

Clarins Anti-Pollution Cleansing Cream

Clarins Extra Comfort Anti-Pollution Cleansing Cream

John Lewis

Clarins' cream works to remove make-up and any toxic pollutants from the skin and contains a number of fighting antioxidants such as shea and jojoba. Squeeze two walnut-sized blobs of cream into your hands and work into your face using suction-like motions.

While some of these may leave a little dent in your purse, their ability to protect your skin from constant pollution may just be worth the investment. Either that or you can always move to a desert island.