SKINCARE 101 : Anti-Pollution Skin Care and Clinique's Innovative Solution
Pollution is gross. I'm reminded of so many "June gloom" days during my years living in Los Angeles when the smog was so thick, there was an eery orange haze over Downtown LA. Not a pretty sight. While it certainly can't compare to the pollution alerts the people of Beijing are regularly subjected to, comparisons are meaningless. All environmental pollutants, at any level, are detrimental to our health — and the health of our skin. Skin is the first, most important defense our bodies have against environmental aggressors like pollution and UV — both of which cause free radical damage throughout the skin layers and are a leading cause of skin aging.
According to a 2016 article in UK publication The Guardian, "Air pollution in urban areas, much of which comes from traffic, includes tiny particles called PMs, nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and chemicals such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs)." The article, which you can read here, cited a scientific study that sought to prove that particulate matter (PM) is a cause of skin aging. The exercise, facilitated by Professor Jean Krutmann, director at the Leibniz Research Institute for Environmental Medicine, studied city inhabitants of Germany and China and "discovered that age spots on their cheeks increased by 25% with a relatively small increase in pollution, 10 microgrammes of NO2 per cubic metre." Yikes!
More than ever, a well-formulated, high-SPF sunscreen is, of course, the first daily essential for protecting our delicate skin barrier against the elements. Antioxidants in the form of vitamins and botanical extracts are a very close second. While brand marketers never talk about sunscreen and antioxidants as "anti-aging," there is nothing more anti-aging than these two products.
And this brings me to a new category of anti-pollution products that are beginning to make some noise. Products and packaging are using terms like "dustless" and "pollution" to draw our attention to the fact that they're formulated to specifically defend against damaging forces in the environment other than, or in addition to, UV light and free radicals. A perfect example is the new Missha Near Skin Dustless Defense Sun Block SPF 50+/PA+++. A notable South Korean beauty brand, Missha claims the Dustless Defense is formulated with botanical extracts in addition to max levels of UVB and UVA defense to "create a protective barrier that prevents fine dust particles from adhering to your skin." Products like raw $15 Dustless Defense are marketed to city dwellers like Angelenos and Beijingers who are particularly susceptible to skin damage from "fine dust," a reference to the particulate or micronized matter found in city air that's a mixture of solid particles and liquid droplets. Where the hell was this product when I was battling June gloom?!
The big name skincare brands are beginning to market products with a spin on anti-pollution defense. Among them is tried-and-true Clinique, with its new Dramatically Different Hydrating Jelly. It's formulated with what the brand's copywriters and marketers dubbed “Clean Shield Technology.”
Clinique’s iconic yellow Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion (or DDML) has long been one of the more reasonably priced, well-formulated basic moisturizers on the market. It’s a reliably effective formula, for sure — and I’ve always loved the texture (and for some reason, the smell!). Rich in skin-compatible, replenishing squalane, it was my first serious moisturizer during my days as a cosmetics department manager in ahem Los Angeles. And I couldn't get enough of it! I always looked forward to trips to the mall parking garage with the Clinique account executive where she would let me raid the trunk of her car, stocked with Clinique product testers. My hunch is I'm not alone in saying it was my first moisture love. But I’ve outgrown it, and long ago moved on to more serious treatments.
But here comes that more serious version of classic DDML. With its Clean Shield Technology, the new anti-pollution Dramatically Different Hydrating Jelly is clearly custom positioned for people like me who live active, modern, and polluted city lives. The catchy sounding Clean Shield Technology is actually a blend of sodium hyaluronate (a salt form of hyaluronic acid that is superbly compatible with skin), super humectant glycerin, sucrose, trehalose (a hydrating plant derived sugar), and what the brand terms a "moisture barrier blend" of emollient sunflower seed cake, and antioxidants barley extract and cucumber fruit extract. In addition, Clinique charged up the defensive mechanisms of its Clean Shield Technology with hydroxyethel urea — a unique, synthetic ingredient that both hydrates skin and helps maintain a normal moisture balance in skin’s uppermost layers. This sounds like serious stuff! So what's it specifically shielding against? Well, it "shields the skin against pollution, whilst restoring skin's hydration and building back its protective moisture barrier." In short, Clean Shield Technology locks in the good (like moisture!) and filters out the bad. I really like the sound of that. I love the ultra-lightweight watery gel texture, but what I think intrigues me most about Dramatically Different Hydrating Jelly is the proof offered by the brand elicited through in vitro testing that it "makes skin 87% less vulnerable to pollution."
That's compelling to me. And when I'm out in the city being bombarded by microscopic particles in the form of particulate matter, I want as much protection as I can get — in the form of a high-level sunscreen, potent antioxidants and, well, a pollution defense shield. Why not? I mean seriously, who doesn't want that?
Water, Bis-Peg-18 Methyl Ether Dimethyl Silane, Butylene Glycol, Glycerin, Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Fruit Extract, Hypnea Musciformis (Algae) Extract, Gelidiella Acerosa Extract, Hordeum Vulgare (Barley) Extract\Extrait D'orge, Padina Pavonica Thallus Extract, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seedcake, Sucrose, Caffeine, Sodium Hyaluronate, Hydroxyethyl Urea, Hydrolyzed Rice Extract, Sorbitol, Sodium Polyaspartate, Ppg-6-Decyltetradeceth-30, Ethylhexylglycerin, Propylene Glycol Dicaprate, Caprylyl Glycol, Trehalose, Polysorbate 80, Carbomer, Sodium Hydroxide, Hexylene Glycol, Citric Acid, Sodium Citrate, Disodium Edta, Phenoxyethanol.