city pollution skincare products Boscia Herbivore Murad
Highsnobiety / Eva Al Desnudo

We may spend most of our time talking about designer garms and fresh kicks, but we know there’s a whole lot more to looking good than what you’re packing in your closet. Groom Service is your no-BS guide in how to look, smell, and feel better. This week it’s all about protecting your skin from high levels of city pollution.

If you live in or near a city, odds are that it has alarmingly high levels of pollutants in the air. The World Health Organization estimates that 92 percent of people in cities are breathing and soaking in unsafe amounts of toxins.

These toxic particles, when absorbed through the skin, can age you faster than usual. They cause oxidative damage that manifests as wrinkles, fine lines, rough skin, dark spots, and more. It can later spread to other organs, too, and can then manifest itself as a host of other problems.

This is why your skincare regimen should not only focus on removing oil and adding moisture, but also on defending the skin and preserving its defensive barrier. You need antioxidant-rich serums and moisturizers, as well as detoxifying cleansers and masks that thoroughly remove any accumulation.

Here are some of our favorite products that combat air pollution, and protect the skin from its wear. Some of these brands are appearing on the pages of Highsnobiety for the very first time; we’ve taken a much wider approach with this one to bring you the best protection from across the beauty industry.

Oskia’s CityLife Concentrate

CityLife Concentrate

CityLife Concentrate



Buy at Spacenk

The price tag on Oskia’s serum is justified by its ingredients roster: powerful antioxidants like astaxanthin and vitamins C and E help inhibit toxins and stimulate collagen production. The mineral malachite improves the skin’s moisture barrier defense, and it also has anti-aging properties. In the brand’s clinical trials, this serum thwarted as much as 98 percent of pollutive aggression. Apply it in the morning, before an SPF moisture, but after cleansing.

Herbivore’s Bamboo Charcoal Cleansing Soaps

Bamboo Charcoal Cleansing Bar Soap

Bamboo Charcoal Cleansing Bar Soap



Buy at Herbivore

Put Herbivore’s bar soap in your shower, and cleanse everywhere with it on the daily. Charcoal is known to absorb impurities far more effectively that almost every other ingredient. That’s why you see it in so many deep-cleansing face masks. In the case of this bar soap, it’s like doing a mini-mask every day, without ever overdrying or irritating the skin (which would happen if you applied a mask more than once or twice a week).

Sunday Riley’s Vitamin C Rich Hydration Cream

Vitamin C Rich Hydration Cream

Vitamin C Rich Hydration Cream


Sunday Riley

Buy at Sunday Riley

Sunday Riley’s daily hydrator has a supersized vitamin C dosage. This makes it exponentially more effective at preventing and repairing signs of aging resultant of pollution and other toxins. While you need not apply some anti-pollution products at night, this is one that will help work wonders while you sleep.

Boscia’s MATCHA Magic Super Antioxidant Mask

MATCHA Magic Super-Antioxidant Mask

MATCHA Magic Super-Antioxidant Mask



Buy at Boscia

Do a weekly detox with Boscia’s green-tea mask, which pulls toxins and grime from your pores while trading it all for antioxidants and skin-soothing ingredients like willowbark, willowherb, a jojoba. Cleanse the skin first, then apply this mask and let it dry for 10-15 minutes, before rinsing clean and applying a deep-nourishing moisturizer.

This Works’ In Transit Pollution Shield Mist

In Transit Pollution Shield

In Transit Pollution Shield


This Works

Buy at This Works

The same way you might finish a hairstyle with some holding spray, This Works’ mist works very well indeed as the final step in your skincare routine, creating a nourishing and protective shield over the skin. It calms with chamomile, prevents moisture loss with hyaluronic acid, soothes irritation with aloe, and defends the skin against skin-damaging carbon and metal particles.

Murad’s CitySkin Age Defense Broad Spectrum SPF 50 PA++++

City Skin Age Defense Broad Spectrum

City Skin Age Defense Broad Spectrum



Buy at Murad

You should already be wearing broad-spectrum SPF on the daily, to prevent discoloration, wrinkling, and skin cancer. However, this tinted hydrator takes things one step further than the baseline, with the addition of pollution-fighting agents that also block environmental pollution damage. It’s tinted to correct discoloration on lighter skin, and is packed with vitamin C to reverse signs of wear as well as inhibit further assault.

Starskin’s Detoxing Sea Kelp Face Mask

Detoxing Sea Kelp Leaf Face Mask

Detoxing Sea Kelp Leaf Face Mask



Buy at Feel Unique

Most cleansing face masks totally dry out the skin, requiring you to follow application with a hydrating regimen. This sheet mask from Starskin is unique in that it deploys plant-based super serum (90 percent of its formula, in fact) to pump a bunch of nourishing and detoxifying ingredients into the skin, to simultaneously purify, correct, and nourish the skin. The hero ingredient is sea kelp, which shrinks pores and pulls toxins and grime away from the skin, while also cooling and calming.

Words by Adam Hurly

Grooming and travel writer from the US, based in Berlin.