Protecting Skin From Pollution

All skin ages intrinsically (by genetics), but multiple factors affect the way skin ages extrinsically (by environment). Whereas intrinsic aging is programmed into your DNA, extrinsic aging isn’t. We’ve known now for some time that extrinsic environmental factors like smoking or sun exposure can affect our skin, but now it’s time to consider the air we breathe.

Adore Beauty - La Roche-Posay Effaclar Foaming Gel - woman cleansing face with La Roche-Posay Effaclar Foaming GelAdore Beauty - La Roche-Posay Effaclar Foaming Gel - woman cleansing face with La Roche-Posay Effaclar Foaming Gel


Air pollution, particularly in big cities, contains toxins and chemicals that produce free radicals. These free radicals can strip the skin of barrier lipids, which help retain moisture and keep out dirt and other impurities. A compromised skin barrier has potential for increased skin sensitivity and premature signs of skin aging.

How to protect your skin against pollution

Although you can't entirely avoid airborne pollution, you can limit its aging effects through a well-designed skincare routine.

Cleansing daily

  • Airborne pollution is mostly invisible to the naked eye. That means even when skin looks clean, it might not be. This is why cleansers are important. When airborne pollutants aren't removed from the skin on a daily basis, the damaging effects of pollution are increased and, in some instances, accelerated by exposure to sunlight.

Exfoliate regularly

  • Did you know the top layers of your skin are dead? Dead skin cells are able to pack together tightly. This compact arrangement of cells creates a strong barrier against extrinsic aging factors such as pollution.

  • Normal, healthy skin completely regenerates every 30 days on average. When skin matures, this turnover rate is up to one-third slower. So, as you get older, any airborne pollution not removed by your cleanser remains on your skin for longer.

  • We recommend exfoliating between two and three times per week to minimise the complexion-damaging effects of airborne pollution.

Use an antioxidant-based moisturiser/serum

  • Skin naturally contains antioxidants that help to counteract the aging effects of the environment. Antioxidants, along with Peptides and Vitamins, help strengthen the skin and neutralise the primary triggers of skin aging. Using a night cream or serum can create additional protection for your skin.


Fight pollution with our pick of the best anti-pollution skincare:

An innovative, daily-use cleansing gel, La Roche-Posay Effaclar Foaming Gel treats skin gently, helping minimise breakouts, uneven skin tone, and pores while killing harmful bacteria and sweeping residue from the skin. Zinc Pidolate purifies skin and assists in the removal of excess oil, bacteria, and dead cells to reduce blemishes while decongesting pores. Thermal Spring Water calms skin and provides antioxidant benefits to fight free radical damage and environmental aggressors. Not sure? Shop our other natural face cleansers and compare.

Erno Laszlo Detoxifying Cleansing Oil combines the detoxifying benefits of Charcoal with the deep-cleansing power of oil, for a cleanse like no other. Vitamin E offers antioxidant protection from free radicals, helping to keep your skin clear and free from pigmentation. Erno Laszlo Detoxifying Cleansing Oil is also infused with Sea Water for antimicrobial properties, and essential Minerals and Olive Oil to deeply nourish and provide antioxidant protection.

Sand&Sky Australian Pink Clay Porefining Face Mask draws the ‘bad stuff’—impurities, toxins, pollutants and pigmentation clusters—out of your skin. Its key ingredient is pure Pink Australian Clay, a highly detoxifying ingredient that deeply cleanses and refines pores while brightening the complexion. This phenomenal mask works to unleash your natural glow, regenerate skin cells, stimulate collagen, create a defence shield, and prevent free radical damage. On oily skin, use 2 to 3 times a week. On dry or sensitive skin, use 1 to 2 times a week.

Three types of exfoliation in one
Three types of exfoliation in one

PCA Skin Pore Refining Treatment is a skin-smoothing treatment that combines physical, enzymatic, and chemical exfoliants to make immediate improvements on dull skin. Rice Powder physically exfoliates with minimal irritation, while Pumice gently buffs the areas that need it most. Kaolin and Bentonite draw impurities from the skin. Papaya Fruit Enzymes loosen dead cells on the surface of the skin so they can be removed by physical exfoliation. PCA Skin Pore Refining Treatment also contains Mandelic Acid, an AHA derived from almonds, to brighten the skin and make it clearer in both texture and tone.

Refreshingly lush yet lightweight, Estée Lauder NightWear Plus Anti-Oxidant Night Detox Crème purifies and refinishes the skin's surface and visibly reduces pores. The formula features the power of DayWear's proprietary Super Anti-Oxidant Complex to deliver deep, long-lasting moisture and protection.

Remember your sunscreen!
Remember your sunscreen!

Just because you're protecting your skin from pollution doesn't mean you should skimp on sunscreen. Medik8 Physical Sunscreen is a lightweight, physical, broad-spectrum face sunscreen. Formulated without nanoparticles, it’s light enough for everyday use and strong enough to defend against all signs of photoaging without leaving any residue. This sunscreen is also fortified with anti-pollution and anti-A.G.E technology to protect against environmental aggressors while correcting lines and wrinkles.

Find more our our favourite anti-aging skincare products in these guides:




Brand and product inclusions are at the sole discretion of Adore Beauty’s highly trained Customer Service team. We do not seek or accept payment from brands or individuals listed in our guides.




Let’s recap our favourite skincare products for fighting pollution