How Do Anti-Pollution Skincare Products Actually Work?

From vitamin C serum to antioxidant moisturizer, there are a plethora of skincare products claiming to shield your skin from pollution showing up on the shelves of local drugstores. But how do anti-pollution skincare products actually work? Does pollution really damage our skin?

"Women all over the world are exposed to environmental conditions that readily challenge the quality of their skin on a daily basis," Armelle Sourand, Scientific Communication Director for Chanel, told The Telegraph. "Urban life makes it impossible to avoid both indoor and outdoor pollutants that create a harmful environment for your skin every day. When in contact with skin, millions of polluting particles create oxidative stress, which leads to severe cell damage which can result in the same type of skin aging that is seen with chronic exposure to UV light." Anti-pollution skincare works to fight this.

Anti-pollution skincare contains antioxidants that strengthen your skin

Most anti-pollution skincare contains antioxidants. As Sally Penford, director of education at Dermalogica, explained to Glamour, "Antioxidants, help strengthen the skin and neutralize the primary triggers of skin aging." 

Dr. Dendy Engelman, Elizabeth Arden Consulting Dermatologist, elaborates, "If we think about our cell membranes as a zipper, free radicals unzip the zipper and cause the cell to die." She continued, "Antioxidants insert themselves into the zipper (or the cell membrane) and stop that unzipping. That is how they protect cells from premature cell death and accelerated damage."

When investing in anti-pollution skincare, Georgie Cleeve, founder of skincare brand Oskia, stresses the importance of looking for a product that specifically targets pollution. "Always look for products that are formulated purely for pollution protection and that have been clinically proven to do so," Cleeve told Glamour. "Antioxidants are very volatile and can become pro-oxidant very easily." Opt for brands you know your skin reacts well to, and if you notice any irritation, discontinue use immediately.