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The 10-Step, Pollution-Fighting Skin Care Routine

A complete 10-step Korean skin care routine for pollution to help reduce the effects of city smog and grit on your skin.

Pollution is a problem in many parts of the world, and Seoul is certainly no exception. This thriving, beautiful city is one of the largest in the world, and with over 25 million people comprising the greater metropolis, you can imagine how environmental and man-made pollutants can affect its inhabitants. However, if we’re throwing truth bombs, it’s the same story across globe!

“Living in the city has its own issues that have an impact on skin, and certain cities in particular may be worse than others,” notes Kally Papantoniou, a board-certified dermatologist. Those include cities in extreme climates that are either very cold, very dry, or very windy. “Usually after living in the city for a period of time, many men and women may notice that their skin may look more dull, and that it can become dried out more easily.”

Tanya Kormeili, a board-certified dermatologist based in California, adds, “Most city inhabitants—myself included—are living in a rush! We work hard, fight the commute to work, rush to get food, drink more coffee than needed, and get less sleep than optimum,” she says. “We are so exhausted and stressed that our hormones are all over the charts to control the stress. Hormones are so key for making us age well and feel good, and estrogen keeps skin youthful. We are stressed and self-care is sometimes not a priority.”

To that, we say it’s time! It’s time to pamper yourself, and it’s time to target dull, dry, tired skin that results from day-in and day-out pollution exposure and stress. Here’s our 10-step Korean skin care routine for pollution that will bring your skin from “oh no!” to “glow!”

Step One: E Nature Moringa Cleansing Balm

This oil-based cleanser is a serious pollution fighting superstar, and we recommend using it both morning and night. It contains moringa, an ingredient that creates a thin, invisible shield over the skin to prevent it from absorbing pollutants, debris and gunk throughout the day. At night, it effectively melts away any build up and leaves skin super soft.

Step Two: Neogen Green Tea Real Fresh Foam Cleanser

korean routine for pollution

One of the greatest defenses against pollution and free radical damage are antioxidants. Green tea is loaded with them, and will help neutralize all that gunk heading your way. You’ll love how soothing and gentle this foaming cleanser is, as well.

Step Three: Neogen Bio-Peel Gauze Peeling Green Tea

Yep, we’re telling you to double down on the green tea by following up your cleansing routine with these exfoliating pads. They’re doused with green tea for more antioxidant goodness, and we love that they effectively buff away dead cells without causing irritation.  

Step Four: Etude House Moistfull Collagen Facial Toner

korean routine for pollution

Pollution is, unfortunately, really good at breaking down collagen. To combat that, incorporate a product with collagen as a star ingredient. This Etude House toner is the perfect option. It feels slightly thicker and more jelly-like than watery.

Step Five: Then I Met You The Giving Essence 

This product is formulated with hydrating polyglutamic acid and free radical fighting ellagic acid that both prevent and repair damage.  Essence is an important part of your skin care regimen since it preps skin for upcoming moisture and treatments.

Step Six: Good (Skin) Days™ C’s The Day Serum

Vitamin C is considered one of the primary anti-pollutant skincare ingredients, says Papontonoiu, and this serum packs a good dosage of it in one little bottle. It boasts a 10% pure vitamin C (L-ascorbic acid) concentration and is also made with licorice root extract and niacinamide.  

Step Seven: Dr. Jart+ Ceramidin Skin-Friendly Nanoskin Sheet Mask

We recommend wearing sheet masks that are either high in antioxidants, or one with ceramides, which are critical in your skincare regimen if you want to improve your skin’s barrier function. Ceramides strengthen your skin to prevent moisture depletion, and keep a strong defense against the city’s worst.

Step Eight: Nacific Fresh Herb Origin Eye Cream

The star ingredient is niacinamide, which is why we recommend it to all city dwellers. Not only does niacinamide brighten your complexion and visibly reduce signs of aging, it also improves the skin’s barrier function. The stronger and more resilient your skin barrier, the better it’ll be at blocking pollution!

Step Nine: Enature Skin Pot Sleeping Pack

Hydration is important when fighting pollution, so we’re recommending this staple sleeping pack. Apply this moisturizer before bed and let it repair any damage done to your skin while you catch ZZZs.

Step 10:  Dr. Jart+ Every Sun Day UV Sun Fluid Broad Spectrum SPF 30

Kormeili says to look for a sunscreen that’s non-comedogenic and that has an SPF of at least 30. This one by Dr. Jart+ is dermatologist tested and approved for sensitive skin types since it’s hypoallergenic and free of tar dyes and artificial fragrances. It’s also a unique sunscreen because in addition to shielding the skin from UV rays, it’s been formulated to create “a cationic shield that blocks fine dust to protect the skin.”

+ What would be in your Korean skin care routine for pollution? Share your picks below!

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