Stress, hormones, late nights, a poor diet – and now we can add pollution to the list of things to blame for less-than-stellar skin. Studies show that irritants in the air (car exhaust, dust, pollen, smoke) can age our skin through hyperpigmentation and inflammation, which can appear as age spots, redness, irritation and fine lines, says head chemist at Kiehl's Dr Geoff Genesky. “Each of these pollutants is capable of absorbing into skin and causing oxidative damage.”
Pollution can also break down collagen and the skin's lipid layer, impairing its barrier function, but there are steps you can take. “The use of an efficient yet gentle cleanser is beneficial in fighting the effects of pollution on the skin and removing particulate matter that has adhered to skin's surface,” says Genesky, adding that the new Kiehl's pollutant-defending masque delivers in all of these areas. “We selected a bioflavonoid extracted from oranges to provide powerful, broad antioxidant protection. Cilantro seed oil also nourishes the skin and reinforces its barrier, while helping to prevent the adherence of pollutant particles.”
Sunscreen is more essential than ever, too; there's increasing evidence that air pollution plus UV exposure can be more damaging to skin than either alone. “While we advise everyone to wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen every day to protect from UV damage, those exposed to pollution have an additional reason to incorporate SPF products into their regimen,” says Genesky.