How to protect your skin and hair from pollution with bargain high street products

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DID you know that the air around you could be damaging your skin and hair? It’s time to shore up your defences.

We’re all aware of the devastating effect pollution has on the planet. But while the consequences on the environment are clear, other effects are less well-known. However, they could actually be staring you in the face (literally).

pollution
Wilfried Haubenberger

We share a selection of products from the high street which will help protect your skin and hair from damage caused by pollution[/caption]

Air contamination can have a serious impact on your appearance. People who live in highly polluted areas are more prone to blemishes, oily skin, premature baldness, a dry scalp and irritated skin.

And the UK has some of the worst offenders – for example, London breached EU and UK air pollution limits for the whole of 2019 on March 18.

“Signs of environmental damage, such as rough skin, inflammation and premature ageing, can be a direct result of pollutant particles,” says Dr Dendy Engelman, consulting dermatologist for Elizabeth Arden.

And the damage doesn’t end there. “Dust, lead and smoke from pollution can cover the surface of the head, which can remove moisture from the hair and scalp, leaving it dry, flaky and prone to balding,” says Redken’s James Pryce from Larry King salon.

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So how can you protect yourself from the effects of pollution? Check out our handy guide.

Spot of bother

Breakouts can be frustrating. And while you might think you’ve done everything to try to tackle them, your usual go-to formulas might not be doing the trick if your blemishes are caused by pollution.

Nanoparticles, the most harmful components of pollution, can be up to 20 times smaller than human pores, so without adequate protection they can penetrate skin easily.

The Goldfaden MD Detox Clarifying Facial Wash has AHAs that reach deep into the pores
The Goldfaden MD Detox Clarifying Facial Wash has AHAs that reach deep into the pores

“When they become trapped in your skin they can cause a build-up of sebum, which can lead to acne,” explains aesthetic doctor Maryam Zamani.

What can you do to combat it?

One of the best products for ridding the skin of spot-causing pollution particles is an AHA cleanser such as Goldfaden MD Detox Clarifying Facial Wash, £32.

Containing a combination of lactic and glycolic alpha hydroxy acids, it reaches deep into pores and dissolves excess oil and grime.

Follow up with Avène’s A-Oxitive Antioxidant Defense Serum, packed with vitamin C and E

Follow with an antioxidant-rich serum containing a powerful mix of vitamins.

We love Avène A-Oxitive Antioxidant Defense Serum, £26, which is packed with vitamin C and E – known to brighten and restore the skin’s natural defence barrier.

  • Goldfaden MD Detox Clarifying Facial Wash, £32 from Look Fantastic — buy now
  • Avène A-Oxitive Antioxidant Defense Serum, £26, from Boots — buy now

Dry spell

For skin and scalps that are already sensitive, dry or sore, pollution can worsen the situation.

“Eczema rates are higher in polluted areas because pollution causes the skin’s barrier to weaken, and this can make skin flare up,” explains Maryam.

So what can you do to keep irritation at a minimum?

The CeraVe Moisturising Cream's high levels of ceramide will keep your skin barrier strong
The CeraVe Moisturising Cream’s high levels of ceramide will keep your skin barrier strong

“Look for face creams that contain high levels of ceramide. This waxy lipid helps to keep the skin barrier strong, which is vital for shielding it from outside aggressors,” explains Maryam. We love CeraVe Moisturising Cream, £14.50.

Your scalp can react just as badly as the skin on your face, with pollution being a key cause of hair loss and lack of growth, according to James.

Redken Clean Maniac Micellar Shampoo will get rid of built-up nasties
Redken Clean Maniac Micellar Shampoo will get rid of built-up nasties

“Toxins in the air can enter the bloodstream via the scalp, hindering your body’s capability to generate hair fibres,” he explains.

“This, in turn, can lead to hair loss and a dry, irritated, flaky scalp.”

The solution? Try using a shampoo that will get rid of built-up nasties.

Follow your shampoo with Klorane Anti-Pollution Protective Conditioner With Aquatic Mint
Follow your shampoo with Klorane Anti-Pollution Protective Conditioner With Aquatic Mint

Often, cheaper formulas tend to contain high levels of sodium that will dry hair out, so we recommend investing in a slightly more expensive product.

Redken Clean Maniac Micellar Shampoo, £15.50, is formulated with micellar technology to gently remove impurities from hair, as well as antioxidants and a UV filter.

Moroccanoil Color Complete Protect & Prevent Spray is your final level of defence
Moroccanoil Color Complete Protect & Prevent Spray is your final level of defence

To follow, apply Klorane Anti-Pollution Protective Conditioner With Aquatic Mint, £10, which further removes toxic chemicals and pollutants and protects your locks to boot.

For a final level of defence, after every wash spritz damp hair with Moroccanoil Color Complete Protect & Prevent Spray, £22.65, before drying. It contains sunflower seed extract to deeply hydrate strands and moisturise the hair follicle, which keeps locks strong and shields against grime in the air.

  • CeraVe Moisturising Cream, £14.50 from ASOS — buy now
  • Redken Clean Maniac Micellar Shampoo, £15.50 from Redken — buy now
  • Klorane Anti-Pollution Protective Conditioner With Aquatic Mint, £10 from Look Fantastic — buy now
  • Moroccanoil Color Complete Protect & Prevent Spray, £22.65 from Feel Unique — buy now


Lines of defence

Fine lines and wrinkles are inevitable as we get older, but environmental elements can exacerbate the problem.

“Free radicals – the skin-damaging atoms found in pollution – break down collagen and elastin, which are essentially the scaffolding of skin that keep it firm and plump,” explains Dr Justine Hextall, consultant dermatologist at The Harley Medical Group.

Use Elizabeth Arden Prevage City Smart Double Action Detox Peel Off Mask once a week to boost the skin’s natural detoxification system 
Use Elizabeth Arden Prevage City Smart Double Action Detox Peel Off Mask once a week to boost the skin’s natural detoxification system
Protect your skin with an SPF such as the Elemis Daily Defence Shield SPF30
Protect your skin with an SPF such as the Elemis Daily Defence Shield SPF30

“I recommend using a vitamin-C-rich antioxidant peel to help skin fight any free radicals that it’s exposed to.”

For a special treat, use Elizabeth Arden Prevage City Smart Double Action Detox Peel Off Mask, £60, once a week. It contains antioxidant ingredients from blueberries and goji berries to broccoli, which all boost the skin’s natural detoxification system to help it fight pollution particles. Plus, the product’s polymer blend will lift away dirt and impurities deep within pores.

Then protect your skin every morning with an SPF such as Elemis Daily Defence Shield SPF30, £46, which contains natural pollution-fighting ingredients such as coconut and jojoba oil.

  • Elizabeth Arden Prevage City Smart Double Action Detox Peel Off Mask, £60 from John Lewis — buy now
  • Elemis Daily Defence Shield SPF30, £46 from Elemis — buy now

Stockists: Avène (Boots.com), CeraVe (Asos.com), Elemis (Elemis.com), Elizabeth Arden (Johnlewis.com), Goldfaden MD (Lookfantastic.com), Klorane (Lookfantastic.com), Moroccanoil (Feelunique.com), Redken (Redken.com).

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