How to Protect Your Future Face From L.A.’s Poor Quality Air

These science-driven skincare finds are tomorrow’s beauty essentials
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A serum that makes under-eye bags disappear. A lotion that smoothes away laugh and smile lines. A hair treatment that prevents strands from thinning with age. I’m always seeking out products that promise these gifts and more, and other Angelenos should, too. Why? Along with the ozone layer and the ice caps, environmental damage is wreaking havoc on our skin.

Did you know Los Angeles County recently earned a C+ grade for air quality? All those free radicals pinballing around can impact what we look like in the future. The idea that that pollution (and stress) may break down skin isn’t exactly new. But scientists have recently discovered evidence that proves poor environments speed up the aging process. Research shows that an increase in soot and particles from traffic can cause 20-percent more pigmented spots on the forehead and cheeks.

Luckily, high-tech ingredients available today in a variety of textures and formulations can delay the onset of pollution-derived aging. With some time and strategic planning (we’re stocking an emergency kit-like satchel), the future in L.A. can still look pretty:

otv_njegfSuper ingredient: Epidermal Growth Factor
Founded in 1986 by scientists Stanley Cohen and Rita Levi-Motalcini, EGF as it’s known is an age-prevention ingredient that supports cell renewal and wound repair. Nurse Jamie EGF Stem Cell Complex ($125) is an EPG-infused serum that feels like a light, milky lotion that oily skins will appreciate. The penetrating formula is also punched up with sun damage-repairing plant stem cells. I love the airtight container, which helps preserve potent elements.

otv_isclinicalemulsionSuper ingredient: Extreme enzymes
Enzymes have been around for a while, but Superoxide Dismutase is one that safely absorbs free radicals before they deplete the precious collagen in your skin. It was once only available intravenously and then approved for oral use before brands were able to add it effectively to creams. IS Clinical Reparative Moisture Emulsion ($85) is a fragrance-free, opalescent lotion that’s surprisingly hydrating for having a thin texture.

otv_omoroviczacreamSuper ingredient: Copper
Beauty chemists have started incorporating copper into night creams because it can organize and protect the skin’s elastic fiber network after it begins its sad, progressive dive as women hit their late twenties. Omorovicza Blue Diamond Super Cream ($390) is the ultimate all-in-one wonder cream. The rich treatment has copper complexes and a shea butter base that keeps slackened skin in form. It’s even safe enough to use after a chemical peel. I did and had no issues whatsoever.

otv_drjartsleepingmaskSuper ingredient: Niacinamide
This vitamin B3-derivative has been shown to increase ceramide and free fatty acid levels in your epidermis, thereby preventing skin from losing water content, which is important because water naturally defends skin against negative environmental exposure. It also helps reduce hyperpigmentation, though scientists admit they aren’t sure exactly how. If you’re ready to commit to applying Dr. Jart+ Premium Firming Sleeping Mask ($48) at least twice a week in place of your usual night cream, your sun spots (aka freckles) should start fading. It’s become my favorite moisture mask, times ten.

otv_dennisgrossferulicretinolSuper ingredient: Retinol
Retinol is considered the gold standard for fading fine lines and wrinkles. Since starting my research for this roundup, I’ve become immensely addicted to Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Ferulic + Retinol Eye Cream ($68). It’s the only eye treatment with the perks of retinol and amped up with ferulic acid, which is well known for helping protect skin from environmental aggressors. I love how the gel-like texture melts right into the skin.

otv_naturabissec+cspfSuper ingredient: Macroantioxidants
New to the market just this month, these are antioxidants on steroids. Exclusive to Natura Bisse, macromolecules provide a heightened level of sunscreen protection against free radicals. C+C SPF 30 Oil-Free Macroantioxidant Sun Protection ($60) is a non-chalky, peach-tinted sunscreen with a sweet citrus scent. It’s creamy and comfortable to wear, plus the tube is thin enough to toss into a tote so you can take it with you and re-apply it at the beach.

otv_pureologynanoHonorable mention: Anti-aging hair care
Yes, anti-aging hair care is a thing. Many shampoo brands are dropping sulfates like sodium lauryl sulfate, because the common sudsing agent is so drying, but Pureology is taking its anti-aging game further. The brand has ditched color-sapping salt and added a proprietary AntiFade Complex to both formulas. Both the Nano Works Shampoo ($54) and Conditioner ($58) are imbued with antioxidants and full spectrum UVA/UVB sunscreens, plus Vitamins C and E that help protect hair from heat and natural-occurring sun damage. The fruity smelling shampoo lathers up thick and frothy, while the conditioner left my fried ends so shiny you’d have thought I was auditioning for a Pantene commercial. Who knows? Maybe I will—in the future.

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