Anti-pollution is massive but complicated. Here’s why
The influences impacting this trend are many. They range from whether or not an individual is urban dwelling or living close to a heavily industrial zone, their ethnicity, if they have specific allergens and sensitivities, are they looking for protection and prevention or seeking solutions that provide treatment of specific conditions. The list goes on.
In particular the range of pollution and environmental hazards that effect different parts of the world is incredibly diverse, with wide variations occurring even within the smallest countries and the problem being much more pronounced in highly populated industrialised areas.
Which hazard to tackle first?
Then there is the issue of pinpointing the type of pollution that needs to be tackled. Air pollution, light pollution or ozone depletion are a few of the more obvious ones.
Will the product be used for indoor use, where potential hazards such as blue light, air conditioning or heating can impact hair or skin? The product could also be designed for outside use, where industrial chemicals contributing to smog, UV radiation and extremes in weather can have a significant impact.
Or should it be a multifunctional product, designed to tackle as many potential hazards as possible, saving the consumer the bother of having to buy a different product for every occasion?
Which skin or hair type?
And don’t forget ethnicity. Certain hair and skin types are affected by environmental hazards and pollution in very different ways, giving product developers the challenge of creating ranges that tap into those specific needs.
This particular issue also has a different impact depending on where in the world an anti-pollution hair or skin care product is to be marketed.
The approach to developing and marketing a product in a region or country where the population is relatively homogenous, is obviously going to be very different to a product targeting a market where there is more ethnic diversity.
Where in the world the target consumer lives is also crucial. In India, a country that is rapidly emerging as one of the most polluted places on the planet, there is a growing problem of urban pollution, which combines with extreme seasonal weather to give way with a unique set of problems.
Then there are the “cleaner” parts of the world. Over the years many parts of North America and Europe have greatly reduced their reliance heavy industrial production, which means that chemical pollution is less of a concern.
However, the anti-pollution trend is still gaining traction in these parts. In fact those consumers are very interested in protecting their hair and skin, but instead of chemical pollution being the enemy, the concerns are more focused on environmental hazards that cause photoageing, particularly UV rays.
Treating the effects of pollution
The story does not end with protection, as anti-pollution products can also be developed around providing treatments for the adverse effects pollutants have on the hair and skin.
Consumers are increasingly aware of the oxidative stress that the environment can have, so they are looking for products that can either protect or reverse the specific damage, with many such claims falling within the realms of anti-ageing.
The obvious cause of this type of damage is UV radiation, but chemical pollutants can also be a major contributing factor, leading to cellular ageing that requires a very different approach for product developers.
Skin conditions caused by pollutants
Pollutants can also lead to a range of minor and not so minor skin conditions, many of which require highly targeted solutions to effectively treat them.
Specific types of acne, such as chloracne, are increasingly common where chemical pollution levels are high. An increase in acne can either be attributed to blocked pores attributed to air pollution or a result of irritation caused by specific chemicals such as herbicides.
Pollution can also be blamed for a range of other skin irritations, including contact dermatitis caused by toxins and solvents in the environment and chemical depigmentation that leads to lighter coloured patches of skin.