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UV Pollution

CITY ARMOUR our favorite five

For the ultimate urban skin shield look no further than the latest UV & pollution fighting products.

In the quest for perfect skin, the sun has long been heralded as enemy number one. Stay out of it, we are told, and a younger, more even-toned complexion will be the reward. This is why when, in 2014, SkinCeuticals and the University of Ferrara released the findings of a multi-year study into the damaging effects of pollution, the beauty world raised an ear and took note.

Daily exposure to ozone pollution can also have a significant impact on skin health, causing excess oiliness, rough texture and increased sensitivity.

“For years, scientific research on environmental causes of skin aging focused solely on UV radiation,” explains Head of National Training Linda Blair. And while the detrimental effect of pollution on our health is well documented, its impact on the skin is far less so. The study found that “daily exposure to ozone pollution can also have a significant impact on skin health, causing excess oiliness, rough texture and increased sensitivity.” Furthermore, when combined with the sun, a recent study by the Skin Cancer Foundation found that pollution and UV exposure “accounts for a staggering 90% of premature aging”.

Recent experiments by Elizabeth Arden in cities like New York, L.A, Beijing, London and Paris found that typical pollution samples are made up of harmful nano-sized particles, able to penetrate pores and accelerate cellular damage by oxidizing lipids and depleting our natural antioxidant reservoirs.

Numerous other faculties have conducted studies with the same results, which makes for sobering reading if you are a city dweller, particularly since, unlike the sun’s rays (which are relatively easy to eliminate by covering up, applying SPF, or staying indoors), city living means that pollution avoidance is pretty much impossible. But why does pollution wreak such havoc on our skin? The answer lies in the relatively small size of pollution particles. Recent experiments by Elizabeth Arden in cities like New York, L.A, Beijing, London and Paris found that typical pollution samples are made up of harmful nano-sized particles, able to penetrate pores and accelerate cellular damage by oxidizing lipids and depleting our natural antioxidant reservoirs. This triggers a progressive cascade of damage at every level of the skin and eventually leads to fine lines, dark spots inflammation and wrinkles.

The good news? There are significant measures we can take towards protecting our skin from further damage. “Pollution protection is very important,” highlights dermatologist Dr. Nick Lowe. “But adding an antioxidant into your regime can really help – the concept is that they act like sponges to mop up the damage caused by pollutants. Look for products that contain antioxidants like Tocopheryl Acetate which is Vitamin E or Ascorbyl palmitate which is Vitamin C.” Blair agrees, “There is no doubt that topical antioxidant use can help prevent the impact of ozone damage to skin,” she explains. “They neutralize free radicals on the upper layers of the dermis and significantly reduce markers of skin aging caused by exposure to ozone.”

The even better news is that pharmaceutical companies have been beavering away behind the scenes to formulate high-performing products that protect against both UV and pollution, are lightweight enough to use everyday and come in bottles small enough to fit in your handbag. Here are the absolute best.

The Radiance Booster:

Shiseido Future Solution LX Universal Defense SPF 30 This lightweight formula contains anti-pollution powder, small molecules of plant extract that form a physical barrier to prevent pollution from entering cells, an SPF 50 and radiance boosters to correct skin dullness and minimise the appearance of pores.

The Skin Perfector:

Phloretic CF + SkinCeuticals Mineral Matte UV Defense SPF 30 SkinCeuticals’ two-pronged attack involves applying a thin layer of Phloretin CF, a mix of antioxidants Vitamin C and Ferulic Acid to shield against pollutants. While regular sunscreens can be a challenge for combination skins their latest 100% mineral SPF doesn’t clog pores, blocks out UVA/UVB, contains oil-absorbing soft-focus powders and a sheer coverage to leave skin with a velvety, smooth finish.

The Office Protector:

Chanel UV Essentiel Multi-Protection Daily Defender UV – Pollution – SPF 50 Skin cells contain proteins called SPRRs to protect against external aggressors. UV and pollution exposure prevent them from functioning properly but Chanel scientists have discovered a molecule that stimulates them to help skin naturally defend itself. In addition, they’ve included a specific combination of sun filters to protect skin not only against UVA and UVB but also from indoor rays from computers, phones and TV screens – making it perfect for office-workers’ everywhere.

The Make-Up Primer:

Giorgio Armani Maestro UV Skin Defense Primer SPF 50 PA ++ In traditional SPFs, UV rays are both reflected and absorbed. To make this primer ultra-lightweight and suitable for everyday city use, Armani has developed a blend of antioxidant agents and transparent filters that form an invisible barrier on the skin. Unlike mineral sunscreens that can cause white patches, this cream glides on effortlessly and provides a great base for make-up.

The Anti-Ager:

Elizabeth Arden PREVAGE® City Smart SPF 50 Hydrating Shield To prevent nano-particles of pollution from penetrating skin, Arden’s new Hydrating Shield takes a three-step approach. First, it forms a barrier on the surface of the skin to keep both pollution and UV rays at bay. Next, the antioxidant Idebenone prevents damage and lastly, purified enzymes boost the skin’s elastin and collagen matrix for smoother looking skin.

Amy Wilson Wyles

A native Londoner, Amy discovered her love for health & beauty while working at Harper’s Bazaar in New York before returning home to work for Conde Nast, Shortlist Media and Net-a-Porter. Eight years later, the mission remains the same: to discover the products and treatments that really work.

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