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Hydration and urban skin
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Skin care and the city - Boosting hydration to counteract urban stress

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Life in a metropolis can be exhilarating. And with large urban areas offering so many more opportunities it’s no wonder that the proportion of city dwellers in the world continues to grow. Did you know that in 2015, 54% of the world’s population were living in cities (up from 39% in 1980) and that this figure is expected to reach 66% by 2055?[1]

Unfortunately, expanding cities and increasing urbanization also mean ever-rising levels of air pollution. The World Health Organization has declared global air pollution a “public health emergency” with 88% of the population living in cities that do not comply with WHO air quality standards.[2]​  Headlines around the world also regularly express concerns about unsafe levels of emissions from factories and cars.

In addition to worries about the air they breathe, growing numbers of consumers in cities are noticing the effect pollution has on their skin. The evidence of this can be plain to see in the grimy cleansing pad at the end of the day. But on top of the dirt, indoor stress from air-conditioning, and the hectic 24/7 pace of city life also take their toll, causing skin to become dull and excessively dry. In 2008, a multi-center study[3]​  found that high air pollution levels negatively impacted the skin’s natural hydration and consumers in urban environments were more likely to complain about dry and sensitive skin. 

The challenges of city living for skin

The “urban skin” phenomenon, as it is known, is still the number one consumer skincare concern worldwide.

In the North Asia region for example, annual mean concentrations of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) in urban areas reached 61.8 in China and 27.9 in South Korea in 2015.[4]​ It is perhaps not surprising therefore that DSM’s consumer research found that 75% of Chinese women are concerned about dry skin and 44% of women in the region are adding more to their skincare regimes in a quest to address this.

According to the American Lung Association, more than 125 million Americans live in counties with unhealthy levels of air pollution and consumer research in the US has found that dry skin is a top preoccupation.[5]​ 53% of American women believe their skin to be dry and 39% of women and 20% of men currently use moisturizers to protect their skin. Even in Europe, where cities generally enjoy better air quality, there are places that significantly exceed safe levels of fine particulate matter (PM2.5).[6]​ As an outcome European consumers are also thinking more about the implications for their skin and becoming interested in taking protective measures. According to recent studies, 56% of British women believe they need to protect their skin from pollution[7]​ and 45% of Spanish consumers would like to find out more.[8]

There is clear potential for the beauty industry to provide information and find skincare solutions for people in places affected by air pollution. Products that target problem areas and act quickly to provide intense hydration in both the short and long term are likely to be very popular with both men and women suffering from the urban skin condition.

Urban skin hydration – a global challenge for all skin types

Dry skin can affect people on various levels wherever they are in the world. For example, sore and irritated facial skin is not only physically uncomfortable but can also be embarrassing and affect confidence; dull and tired looking skin can be emotionally draining; and a sense that skin is under attack from the environment can cause feelings of vulnerability and concerns about skin health and protection.

In 2015, DSM’s researchers compared facial skin hydration in four ethnic groups in the highly polluted city of Pretoria in South Africa. 3D facial color mapping technology revealed that poor hydration in the nasobial fold area was a problem common to all skin types regardless of ethnicity. Last year our researchers used facial color mapping again to study dry skin and hydration in Chinese women living in the megacity of Beijing where there are particular concerns about air quality.

Feedback within DSM’s blogger community regularly points out that users appreciate the reassurance of access to scientific evidence that products benefit their health, routines and lives.​ Facial color skin hydration mapping technology is an excellent way to provide scientific evidence that consumers can relate to and understand for themselves. It draws attention to skin areas with special hydration needs and thus helps meet consumer demands for effective hydration.

Hydration – the best defense for urban skin

As well as finding that Chinese women tend to have excessively dry skin in the cheek and jaw areas, DSM’s facial color mapping technology demonstrated the hydration power of Pentavitin.

When the skin is adequately hydrated, it feels more comfortable, enhancing your general sense of well-being so you are ready to face the highs and lows of vibrant city life. Dry skin lacks water in the upper scaly layers, whilst the underlying layers are normally hydrated by the skin’s internal moisturizing mechanism. Resolving dry skin is not just about having enough moisture – it’s about directing moisture to where it is most needed and strengthening the skin’s natural defenses to prevent further dehydration.


In DSM’s study, three hours after a single application of Pentavitin, excessively dry skin areas were already much better hydrated. What’s more, when used twice every day over a 28 day period, all facial areas benefited from the hydration power of Pentavitin.

Unlike other ingredients, Pentavitin connects perfectly with the skin’s surface layers and does not easily wash off, locking in moisture like a magnet and boosting the skin’s own hydration power. Suitable for all ethnicities, it brings tired, dry skin back to life in the long and short term. As well as being supported by clinical data Pentavitin is 100% natural, plant-derived, preservative-free and halal certified.



[3]​ Consequences of urban pollution upon skin status. Int J Cosmet Sci 2016 Jun 5;38(3):217-23

[4]​ WHO/Mintel

[5]​ DSM Consumer Study, March 2014

[6]​​ [accessed 01 Mar 2018]

[7]​ Women’s Facial Skincare UK, June 2017

[8]​ Consumer Data Charts 2017

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