Anti-Pollution Protection: A City Survival Guide

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Anti-Pollution Protection: A City Survival Guide

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Michela Marra | Tuesday August 7th 2018

In what is surely the truest sign of the times, I now have an app on my phone, called Radar, that sends me a push notification when the smog level in Milan exceeds its normal threshold. I don’t need to tell you that in these last few days of heat and humidity, and especially when it hasn’t rained in some time, my phone is basically constantly vibrating with new updates.

It’s a well-known fact that living in the city means exposing yourself to an array of pollution that countryside skin just does not encounter, both from air pollution as well as the constant blue light from our ever-connected devices. New York dermatologists even have a name for it – “City Syndrome” – a chronic stress that affects the health of our skin, resulting in a tired appearrance, dull complexion and, often, clogged pores.

Is the city the real enemy? The World Health Organization is leaning toward yes; according to their research, every year in Milan, there are about ten thousand people presending serious health issues caused by elevated concentration of particulates. In a Chinese study, the skin of women living in the city was shown to age faster than those who live in rural centers.

Urban Aging is not a myth. Everyday, the air deposits dirt and dust on our skin, generating an excess of free radicals that have negatively impact our skin’s ability to produce elastin and collagen. Also, as dermatologist Antonio Di Pietro tells us, “the fine dust alters the hydrolipidic film, which is the natural barrier of water and sebum, whose function is to defend the skin. The consequence is the appearance of irritation or the worsening of some dermatitis, such as atopic or seborrheic.”

So, how do we defend our skin from these external attacks? Other than religiously washing our faces morning and night with delicate and moisturizing products, and adding an exfoliating mask every few days, the experts name cream their ideal protection. Cream acts as a shield against dust and UV rays, which means harmful agents are kept out, and your skin is left moisturized.

In the best anti-smog products, you will almost always find Vitamin C and E, and peptides. In general, mostly all anti-aging substances work against oxidation, and at the same time soothe the skin. To defend the natural protective barrier of the skin, creams and serums with a base of ceramide and phospholipids also help improve the bonds between cells. Other natural elements include resveratrol (found in grape skin), Lycopene and other active botanicals like Moringa extract and its purifying properties. The offering of natural products to fight smog is very ample; green tea, artichokes and Acai berries are only some of the dietary ingredients that have made their way into our cosmetic products, thanks to their level of antioxidants and their capacity to protect our cells.

Here are some of the ultimate city survival products that I have tried in the last couple of months – each passed with flying colors.

Step One: Cleanse

Tata Harper Purifying Mask 

Purifying mask with detox action, only with natural ingredients, decongests and protects the skin’s defense thanks to probiotics.

NIOD Sanskrit Saponins

Creamy and delicate cleanser, founded on Ayurvedic principals. Cleans deeply freeing your pores of impurities and bacteria.

Chanel La Mousse Anti-Pollution Cleansing Cream to Foam

Cleanses deeply thanks to its two marine extracts (Blue Microalgae and Salicornia extract) that allows your skin to rid of traces of pollution and to preserve its essential functions.

Step Two: Serum

Elizabeth Arden Prevage City Smart Hydrating Shield 

Formulated to combat damage caused by pollution at 360° with its base of antioxidant active ingredients and contains a complex of enzymes to protect the cell structure.

Caudalie Polyphenol C15 Serum

Concentration of anti-age defense ingredients, thanks to the combination of grape polyphenol and Vitamin C an intense antioxidant action occurs.

Antipollution Drops di Dr. Barbara Sturm 


Ideal for blue light from screens and city pollution, these drops are rich in antioxidants that combat the inflammation due to the aggressive action of pollutants.

Step 3: Moisturizing + Anti-aging

Aesop Parsley Seed Anti-Oxidant Facial Hydrator 

Hydrating cream with a fluid consistency and a base of antioxidant ingredients that protect sensible skin from external skin aggressors.

Superdefense Daily Defense Moisturizer Broad Spectrum SPF 20 di Clinique

This cream reinforces the skin’s barrier thanks to antioxidant agents and UVA-UVB protective filters and anti-pollution.

Clarins UV Plus Écran Multi Protection 

It counteracts the formation of free radicals thanks to a high SPF.

P-Lipic Bakel 

This fluid prevents skin aging by taking anti-smog and anti-age action that reduces wrinkles and strengthens the skin barrier.

Origins A Perfect World Age-Defense Moisturizer with White Tea SPF 40 

This oil free moisturizing cream with white tea, rich in antioxidants, protects the skin helping delay the visible signs of aging. The Edelweiss and the White Birch also neutralize infrared rays and other aggressive environmental factors.

Finally, we can always use a helping hand from supplements. Our favorite is Dr. Barbara Sturm’s Anti-Pollution Food, which strengthens the natural function of the skin’s barrier and the immune system, supplying a deep hydration to the cellular level as well.

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