Here’s the Best Way to Get Nasty Pollution off Your Face

All beauty editors have two things in common: They stash a hoard of sunscreen in their medicine cabinets and they’re obsessed with the Clarisonic brush. And if you’ve joined the cult of Clarisonic, we’re guessing it’s also your favorite beauty tool.

Now research is showing that there are even more reasons to justify its cult status. A study unveiled at the American Academy of Dermatology meeting this year revealed that cleansing with the Clarisonic can remove 30 (yes: three-zero) times more pollution than your basic manual cleansing.

The focus on pollution is important because recent research shows that the fine particles of dirt that fill the air can cause signs of aging comparable to sun damage. “In the 1960s the medical community first widely accepted that sun caused aging—that’s where we are today with pollution,” says Seattle dermatologist Lauri M. Tadlock, Vice President of Evaluation for Clarisonic. “We now have scientific evidence that pollution is an independent factor in skin aging.”

German researchers evaluated 400 women in their 70s and 80s and found that those who lived in areas with higher pollution had more age spots and an increase in deep wrinkles, specifically a more pronounced nasal-labial fold (the lines that run from the nose to the mouth).

And it’s not just those of us who stand on subway platforms or dive through smog on the regular who have to worry. According to NASA, air pollution that exceeds the World Health Organization’s recommended levels covers more than 80 percent of the global population. You’re even exposed to pollution indoors—it’s generated by simple things such as cooking or lighting a candle.

This pollution contains particulate matter (PM) that consists of particles that are up to 20 times smaller than pores, Dr. Tadlock explains. The smaller the particles, the faster they can penetrate the skin. These particles cause inflammation and irritation on a micro level that lead to the signs of aging.

Clarisonic before and after

Luckily the fix is simple: Make sure you’re deep cleaning your skin every day. “In most cases, our hands alone cannot effectively remove pollution matter of this size.” Clarisonic compared manual washing to using the brush in removing a tinted solution of pollutants similar to those you’d find in the air. After 60 seconds of cleansing, Clarisonic removed more than 30 times the pollution than manual washing. The sonic frequency moves the brush more than 300 times a second to massage pores to remove dirt, oil and yes, pollution.

“Regardless of where you live, cleansing is a priority,” Tadlock says. “In addition to wearing sunscreen, it’s crucial to remove makeup, oil and dirt every day to prevent damage to skin.”

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