Skincare Secrets To Tackle Modern-Day Pollutants

We tested some of Dr. Dennis Gross' unique skincare products in one of the harshest possible environments: New York City.
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Image Credit: Leah Pellegrini

Image Credit: Leah Pellegrini

Contributor Leah Pellegrini lives in New York, where "clean" and "pure" aren't exactly the first words that come to mind to describe the environment. Pollutants in the air and water can have unsavory impacts on the skin, so she tested some pro products from Dr. Dennis Gross and reported back on the rejuvenating results.

Like many urban homes, my last Brooklyn apartment squeezed an impressive number of inconvenient quirks between its shoebox-sized walls. Perhaps the most jarring, particularly to new visitors, was the bathroom: with just enough space for a toilet crammed against a shower, it had no sink.

Needless to say, my customary beauty rituals — the kinds of skin-soothing and rejuvenating things we’re supposed to do first thing in the morning or before bed at night, under a warm, streaming faucet — went, well, down the (nonexistent) drain.

In other words, I stopped regularly washing my face, except for a quick splash while simultaneously spitting out my toothpaste. I forwent moisturizers and balms, blaming my ill-equipped bathroom for my slapdash skincare routine. Even after moving out of the apartment, the laziness lingered with me.

We all have our excuses for neglecting certain health and beauty habits we know would be good for us, don’t we? Too tedious. Too time-consuming. Too expensive. Too tough to narrow down the overwhelming amalgam of products in the drugstore aisle to find the ones that actually work. And then we wonder why our pores start to seem plugged and our dark under-eye circles like puckered half-moons between constellations of tiny splotches.

According to Dr. Dennis Gross, who has fast become Team Clementine’s go-to guru on all things skin-related, environmental toxins can cause serious damage when left unchecked. Our air and running water contain impurities including heavy metals, calcium and sulfites that react negatively with the body’s natural oils to prompt acne, redness and rosacea. Over time, the contaminants lead to collagen degeneration, aka wrinkles.

Some wear and tear might be inevitable — “flawless” is better left a Beyoncé song title than attempted as a glamour goal, and a few facial imperfections are human. However, whether for its inconvenient apartment bathrooms or its particular abundance of pollutants, New York has been especially unkind to my skin, and I know I'm not the only one experiencing the gradual physical impacts of today's worldly contaminations. So, I’ve been experimenting with a handful of Dr. Dennis Gross products for some much-needed TLC.

Every morning, I’ve been using the Alpha Beta Daily Peel, which exfoliates and restores smoothness and radiance with a short and simple two-step formula. We’ve tried this one before at Clementine, and it seriously works. Despite its luminosity-engendering superpowers, it doesn’t feel harsh or astringent, but rather like a cool refresher to wipe away any lingering residue. Bonus points for the fact that it comes in easy packets of pads with no need for rinsing after use — no mess, no drips, no sink required.


After the peel comes the moisturizer, which is the real kicker, as far as those afore-mentioned heavy metals are concerned. To detoxify and displace pollutants, the Hydra-Pure Intense Moisture Cream contains an exclusive combination of ingredients called the Chelating Complex. I am told by Dr. Gross that Chelators are often untapped ingredients that pack a punch to protect against toxic build-up. His formula is also infused with antioxidants like Vitamin C and essential oils to replenish hydration.

It feels luxuriously creamy at first touch, but it goes on in a lightweight layer and absorbs immediately for much-needed nourishment, minus unwanted grease. The result is smoother, softer, suppler skin, starting the morning on a soothing note.


I finish with my favorite final touch (which I actually use all day long): C+Collagen Mist. I admittedly don't wear much makeup, but this mist not only sets everything in place, it protects and keeps my skin looking and feeling hydrated (even after the longest of days). It is my current "never leave home without it". 


As for my bedtime routine, I’m a new devotee to the Clarifying Colloidal Sulfur Mask. I’ve been applying it all over with extra attention to any acne that’s begun to emerge over the course of the day, then wearing it overnight to wake up with a fresh face. It keeps blemishes at bay and battles breakouts while I sleep (which is extra important, as we’ve already learned).

I’m still a New York girl, but I’m no longer wearing the proof so blatantly on my cheeks. As it turns out, I didn’t even need to swap my lackadaisical beauty routine tendencies to make the change, since all of this stuff takes just a few fast minutes to make its mark — or, rather, to remove the marks, mitigate redness, and altogether ameliorate even the most sensitive skin. In fact, none of my new skincare rituals require a sink in the first place. Score.

This is part of an ongoing series sponsored by Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare, a brand by Dr. Dennis Gross MD whose products we love. All opinions are our own. Thank you for supporting the brands that make Clementine Daily possible!

p.s. Since sunscreen is another must for happy, healthy skin, here's our favorite