Your skin’s city survival kit

While we’re adept at protecting our skin from the sun (SPFs should be standard daywear), it’s less simple when it comes to guarding against equally damaging pollution that we can’t see or feel. But to make life easier, NEWBY HANDS has compiled her own essential city-skin kit, and the rules to follow to guard against the effects of urban life


Don’t bare all

Skin doesn’t need to ‘breathe’ or have a ‘break’ from skincare; it needs to be protected, boosted and repaired every single day. This is why I’ve never promoted the idea of bare skin, and even on weekends have worn some sort of base to have something between me and the city air – my thinking is that the dirt, dust and particles of pollution will end up sitting on the mini barrier provided by the color pigments, rather than on my skin. I’ve asked numerous experts if my unscientific theory has any basis in fact, and have been assured that, to some degree, it does. However, the simple tinted moisturizers I’ve relied on in the past have been superseded by clever blends of pigments (physical barrier), antioxidants (protection), hydration, skincare and SPF. Plus, they look good and give skin a very natural finish. Sarah Chapman Skinesis Skin Insurance SPF30 and Elizabeth Arden Prevage City Smart SPF50 Hydrating Shield are my favorites, and I wear one every day, even under foundation.

Know your actives

When it comes to protecting skin from sun, pollution, stress and virtually anything detrimental, antioxidants should be top of your go-to list. Use them every day, twice a day. If you use them regularly, you can even build up a reservoir of antioxidant protection in the skin. Add niacinamide to that essentials list too; it’s a multi-tasking vitamin that works to calm, brighten, even out skin tone and, more importantly, build a stronger barrier.

Protect on the go

Sun and pollution are individually bad, but when combined they are even more destructive, so anything we can do to counter both throughout the day helps. Not to be confused with old-school refreshing water spritzes, new-gen face sprays deliver high-tech skincare throughout the day, even over makeup. Containing antioxidants and minerals, plus ingredients to deeply hydrate, RéVive Vitalité Energizing Hydration Mist is a great handbag and beach-bag essential.

Work with your body clock

Research shows that the skin’s natural ‘clean-up’ process (where damaged cells and daily aggressors are removed) starts at night. So taking a shower and cleansing your face before it gets dark allows this vital process to get to work without also having to deal with city dirt and pollution.

Take a light touch with peels

Gentle, moderate exfoliation is good for the skin; excessive, aggressive peeling is not. While peeling can, to some degree, help shift the tiny, notoriously sticky particles of pollution from the skin’s surface, over-peeling strips off the protective skin barrier along with the dirt.

Cleanse properly

Forget double or even triple cleansing: just one good cleanse can be enough if done well. In fact, some dermatologists have told me they have seen an increase in dry, sensitized skin from over-cleansing and removing the surface layer of protective oils along with makeup. I love a balm cleanser, like Eve Lom’s cult Cleanser or Sunday Riley’s Blue Moon Tranquility Cleansing Balm, as these can be worked over the face and into the skin – do take a minute or two to massage it in. If you prefer something less rich, then clay-based cleansers like Elizabeth Arden’s excellent Superstart Probiotic Cleanser Whip to Clay, or Charlotte Tilbury’s two-step Goddess Cleansing Ritual, are excellent for deep-cleaning skin and leaving it feeling velvety soft. Another long-term favorite is the brilliant Skin Perfecting Mask from Dr Sebagh; used after a hot day in the city, it leaves even my dry skin feeling fresh, deeply clean and so comfortable.

The model featured in this story is not associated with NET-A-PORTER and does not endorse it or the products shown.