Are you protecting your skin against pollution? | 9Lives
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We speak a lot about sun damage on your skin – and yes, if you’re not using a proper sunscreen your other expensive serums and whatnots are money down the drain – but recently we’ve been learning more about another skin enemy coming in from the side. The impact of pollution on the skin is a hot topic right now and one all city dwellers should pay attention to. Here’s what you need to know and what you can do to line up your defences.

How does pollution affect your skin?

Pollution can aggravate the early signs of ageing. It oxidises lipids and depletes your antioxidants, especially Vitamins E and C. It can also strip away your protective skin barrier. The result is dehydration, skin sensitivity, excess sebum production (that could lead to breakouts and acne) and premature ageing.

Those who live in cities are particularly exposed, with an excess of car fumes, cigarette smoke, pesticides and industrial emissions filling the air we live in. Moving into winter, we’ll also be adding fire smoke and indoor heating to the mix.

So what can you do to prevent damage?


Make sure you cleanse twice a day, which will remove daily dirt, excess sebum and a buildup of pollution particles. An ingredient like activated charcoal works like a magnet to ad-sorb (attach to) these particles and remove them from your skin.


You can protect your skin by adding antioxidants to your routine, particularly Vitamins C and E. These help to fight off free radicals and protect your skin against damage.


Choose a broad spectrum sunscreen that will protect your skin against UVA and UVB damage.

Here are a few products worth trying

Elizabeth Arden Prevage City Smart Double Action Detox Peel Off Mask

R865 for 75ml, select department stores

Apart from being super fun to use, this new detox mask works like a magnet to remove impurities and pollutants, while antioxidants boost and protect the skin. I really loved the sticky gel consistency, the cooling sensation and that seriously satisfying feeling of pulling it off. Plus my skin felt soft and silky after using it.

Apply a generous layer over your face, avoiding your eyes and hairline. Leave for 20 minutes then peel off.

Vichy LiftActive Vitamin C Brightening Skin Corrector

R520 for 10ml, leading pharmacies

This new brightening serum contains 15% pure Vitamin C that will help to fight free-radical damage and brighten the skin. They’ve also included Hyaluronic Acid that will boost hydration and plump up the skin.

The product is meant to be used as a skin boost for 10 days straight, and can be used three to four times per year. Apply it in the mornings to cleansed skin and follow with your moisturiser and sunscreen.

Urban Decay All Nighter Pollution Protection Environmental Defense Makeup Setting Spray

R460 for 118ml, Urban Decay and Foschini Stores

I am a huge fan of these Urban Decay setting sprays, formulated with a patented time-release Temperature Control Technology that lowers the temperature of your makeup, helping it last longer.

It sprays on in a super fine mist and doesn’t leave a sticky or heavy residue. This specific variant also contains a blend of minerals including zinc, magnesium and copper to help protect against free radicals.

Neutrogena Hydro Boost City Shield Hydrating Lotion SPF25

R139,95 for 50ml, Clicks, Dis-Chem, Foschini and leading pharmacies

This lightweight lotion contains Hyaluronic Acid to replenish moisture and help to defend the skin’s barrier. They’ve also added Vitamin E, which has been shown to protect the skin against environmental pollution. The biggest win here, however, is the broad spectrum SPF 25 in the formulation, which will help to protect your skin against UVA and UVB damage.

Vichy UV Protect Skin Defense Daily Care Invisible Mist SPF50

R225 for 75ml, leading pharmacies

So we know we’re suppose to reapply sunscreen every few hours but realistically nobody is going to remove and reapply their makeup three times a day to slather on a fresh layer of SPF. So I’m super excited about this new UV Protect Invisible Mist from Vichy, which you can spray over your makeup through the day to boost sun protection.

It goes on as a super fine spray, so no worries about droplet marks on your foundation. I would, however, recommend setting it with some powder afterwards since the oils could cause some shifting in your makeup.

Davines The Purity Circle Away from Pollution Hair and Scalp Mask

R135 for 50ml, select salons

A healthy scalp means healthy hair, but we often neglect this part of our bodies. Davines has launched a cool new range of in-salon and take-home masks that specifically target scalp issues. This mask helps to remove scalp impurities caused by atmospheric pollution.

The Purity Circle mask is enriched with matcha tea that works to fight free radical damage, as well as 100% natural eco-certified bamboo charcoal which will attract and remove particles. This also gives the mask its characteristic black colour.

Anything to ask or add? Pop your thoughts in the comments section below, I would love to hear from you.


I am a lifestyle blogger from Cape Town trying to find the best ways to spend my time, take care of my body and express myself. I am slightly obsessed with fragrances, sneakers, Jamie Oliver and Masterchef Australia. Oh, and I probably drink way too much wine.


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