A strongly emerging trend for skin care is ‘anti-pollution’, but do we really need it? Needless to say, this is a trend that has emerged from countries such as China where city pollution is off the scale – far more than we are ever exposed to here in the UK. I think we can safely say that in the next few months there will be slew of products promising to protect your skin from everything from heavy metals, nicotine and lead – or any other scary sounding substance that might be found in the air you can think of.

If you live in a city where factory and traffic pollution is high and unregulated, then yes, it’s likely that your skin will suffer effects of pollution. I’ve pulled out some information from French brand, Etat Pur that tells you all you need to know:

  • Ozone and nitrogen oxides cause inflammations: the skin is then irritated and reactive.
  • Carbon monoxide is responsible for tissue hypoxia (deficiency in oxygen supply to the tissues): the skin’s metabolism is slowed down (dull complexion, premature ageing, dryness…).
  • Sulphur dioxide leads to impairment of the hydrolipidic film: the skin is then irritated and sensitive.
  • Particles in suspension may cause irritations and allergies.

However, although London consistently breaks guidelines on safe pollution levels, Beijing’s can soar to over twenty times the safe limit recommended by the World Health Organisation (and peaks at midnight, would you believe). So, you can see that one skin care need is very different to another globally when it comes to anti-pollutants. If you live in a very polluted city, it would make sense to use a product that contains a metal chelating agent (look out for Detoxyl) or ingredients that help skin to detoxify more rapidly (look out for Celldetox).


The chances are though, that if you’re already using an SPF, a moisturiser containing anti-oxidants and have a good cleansing routine, you don’t need to buy into the new lines, especially if you don’t live in a city. I think we’ll see a lot of scare tactics by brands disguised as marketing when the new anti-pollution fad really takes off; consider your existing skin care routine and whether you’d rather have a nice pair of shoes instead before rushing to worry about and buy something that won’t make a jot of difference unless you’re regularly standing in the centre of Bejing at midnight.

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