10 Anti-Pollution Beauty Treatments to Save Your Skin and Hair from the City

The city is alternately exciting, rewarding and infuriating. It’s also hot, humid and dirty—and it can wreak havoc on your hair and skin.

“In the city, there is a lot more air pollution due to the subway, skyscrapers and overpopulation of vehicles and people,” says Edyta Jarosz, lead aesthetician at New York City’s PFRANKMD Skin Salon. “Indoor air pollution, due to close proximity to smokers, cooking fuels and roads, can also cause skin aging.” Oof, we really have nowhere to hide.

The two factors that cause the greatest damage? Sun and smoke. “When air particles cause free-radical damage to cells, certain parts of our cells are not replaceable,” adds Jarosz. Air pollution may aggravate skin conditions such as acne and skin cancer, lead to premature skin aging and dark circles, worsen inflammatory skin diseases like eczema, acne and psoriasis, and leave you with generally dull, lifeless skin.

So what’s a city dweller to do, short of moving off the grid to a remote cabin in Vermont? Check out these specially formulated anti-pollution beauty treatments and products that protect, heal and shield stressed skin and parched strands.

super goop city sunscreen

Supergoop City Sunscreen

This multi-action sun-barring moisturizer was practically made with busy, on-the-go New Yorkers in mind. Enriched with vitamins E and B5 plus other skin-conditioning agents, it’s formulated to “hydrate, repair and protect the skin not only against UVA and UVB rays but also against environmental stressors like pollution,” says Supergoop founder Holly Thaggard.

sachajuan hair in the sun orange bottle

Sachajuan Hair In The Sun

Did you remember to put sunscreen on your hair? OK, we didn’t either—but we will now. This leave-on protector shields hair from the sun with a UV filter that stays on even after a bath or shower, making sure your hair color refuses to fade. Need another reason to coat your hair? “Because hair is often unprotected, it’s very susceptible to air pollution damage,” says Jarosz. “Soot, dirt, dust and gases can cause scalp irritation, dryness, breakage and even premature baldness.” Um, enough said.

d bronzi sunshine serum

Drunk Elephant D-bronzi Anti-pollution Sunshine Serum

If you’re heading to the Hamptons for a quick weekend beach getaway, get the glow without the long-term consequences. This bronzer delivers color sans damage and is chock-full of peptides, marula oil, essential fatty acids and antioxidants like vitamin D to nourish and protect the skin from environmental stressors. Can your regular bronzer do all that? P.S. The color comes from raw, unrefined cocoa powder.

yes to tomatoes face wipes1
Yes to Tomatoes

Yes To Tomatoes Anti-pollution Detoxifying Charcoal Bubbling Wipes

Ever feel like a day out and about in the city has left you thinly coated in grime? Sweep it away with these wipes infused with oxygen and charcoal (a natural detoxifier and impurity remover).The unique bubbling formula deep cleanses, removes makeup, detoxifies and whisks away pollutants. Toss it into your purse or gym bag for a quick clean on the go.

bare minerls complexion rescue defense

Bareminerals Complexion Rescue Defense Radiant Protective Veil

Let’s not forget about the potential indoor damages that can mar your glass-complexion goals. Yes, digital pollution is a thing. Research suggests that blue light (from cell phone, TV and computer screens) may penetrate deeper into skin than UVB rays and cause damage that can contribute to wrinkles, sagging, hyperpigmentation and other signs of aging. But don’t worry, this weightless formula—which launches in August—is the first mineral-based indoor-outdoor veil for all skin tones, with cacao extract to help protect against the skin-damaging effects of blue light. And it still protects from the sun and environmental pollution.

Learn more

skyn iceland bottle

Skyn Iceland Glacial Spray Lotion With Anti-pollution Complex

This moisturizer was pretty much made for your commute. A couple of quick sprays (ahh, refreshing) creates an invisible shield that minimizes exposure to daily pollutants such as cigarette smoke, heavy metals, blue light and exhaust fumes, while stimulating collagen production and toning and repairing skin. All this protective goodness comes via oat kernel extract, tomato stem cells, L-arginine and biosaccharide gum-4, a pollution-blocking polymer. It’s perfect for a range of skin types, from dry and dehydrated to dull and acne-prone.

Buy it ($35)

1a all day pollution repair mask

1a All-day Pollution Repair Mask

Believe it or not, you can teach your skin to get better at fending off NYC pollution. On hot, muggy days when your skin could use a little extra love and healing, slather a “leave-on” reparative mask on your face like you would your hair.breathable mask—rich in peptides, Moringa seed and squalane—works through the day to “train” your skin so that it becomes smarter and more resilient to external aggressors. And it’s designed to be worn under sunblock and makeup.

Buy it ($99)

woman dermalinfusion
Envy Medical Dermalinfusion/Facebook


When you really need a deep clean to get rid of the city’s gunk, vacuum the toxins out of your pores (literally). The noninvasive Dermalinfusion offered at the offices of Monica Halem, M.D., clears up congested and blocked pores using a diamond-tip exfoliation and extraction via closed-looped vacuum pressure. It then infuses your freshly emptied pores with a custom solution for your skin woes. There’s no downtime and everything that’s removed from the skin is sucked into a jar—it’s both fascinating and terrifying to see what was removed at the end of a treatment. Results include brighter, smoother skin, a reduction in congestion, and increase in plumpness and hydration.

Oxygen Purifying Facial By Joanna Vargas

This instantly gratifying treatment helps prevent skin damage from pollutants while improving clarity, texture and tone. Skin is plumped and hydrated with medical-grade oxygen, whichgently erases dullness and fine lines to leave skin silky smooth with a renewed radiance (it’s a favorite treatment for celebs before hitting the red carpet). It begins with microdermabrasion using a diamond-tipped wand, followed by a relaxing facial massage, extractions, a customized mask and a green-tea-infused oxygen treatment.  

girl getting hair washed
dolgachov/Getty Images

Paul Labrecque Salon And Spa Mint Menthol Scalp Revitalizer

This treatment, offered by the long-standing Upper East Side salon, was made for detoxifying the city elements and giving your scalp a much-needed vacation. A therapeutic eucalyptus menthol mask treatment and head massage relieves a dry, itchy scalp while deeply cleansing, improving scalp circulation and removing excess oil. Pair it with the Lemongrass Deep Conditioning treatment at the salon to improve suppleness and shine and to reinforce the hair cuticle barrier against smoke and smog. An at-home version is also available. 

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Freelance PureWow Editor