In my latest article for Beauty By The Geeks, I put Ren Flash Anti-Pollution Mist under the microscope, to see if it really does deliver on its claims of protecting our faces from our daily commute.
Aqua (Water)‑, Undaria Pinntifida Extract, Propanediol, Caprylyl/ Capryl Glucoside, Hydrolyzed Candida Saitoana Extract, Lactic Acid, Parfum* (Fragrance)‑, Polyglyceryl5 Oleate, Sodium Cocoyl Glutamate, Biosaccharide Gum4, Glyceryl Caprylate, Citric Acid, Phenoxyethanol, Sophora Japonica Flower Extract, Sodium Hydroxymethylglycinate, Sodium Benzoate, Potassium Sorbate, Ethylhexylglycerin, Benzyl Salicylate, Citronellol, Linalool
It used to be said that London’s streets were paved with gold… if by gold you mean traffic jams, road works and hoards of suffocating commuters – then that still holds true today. The city’s pollution levels have reached record highs in recent years and although we may not yet be at the level of Beijing, adopting paper surgical facemask as the accessory du jour, it certainly leaves much to be desired in the way of protecting ourselves from daily life in the big smog.
Cosmetics brand Ren have established themselves as the Green Peace of the skincare world, having just launched a brand new serum – the Flash Defence Anti-Pollution Mist. According to their website this is ‘the most efficient way to protect against ‘pollugaing’ – the South Korean buzz-term for the skin-damaging effects of every day environmental stress…[creating] a protective veil between complexion and the elements.’
This blend of Polysaccharide gum (to form a non-sticky, invisible shield) zinc and manganese amino acids (to warn against free radical attack), quercetin (to boost skin’s antioxidant capacity and stimulate repair) and alga-glucan (to help detoxify and promote cell longevity) is the easiest way to preserve the health and wellbeing of your complexion. Apply on top of moisturiser or makeup and use throughout the day to boost skins defences and maintain a youthful dewy look.
The Science Behind The Bottle
Undaria Pinntifida Extract
This is a brown seaweed, the main active ingredient being Fucoidin. ‘Detoxify’ is a non-scientific word and therefore difficult to justify through evidence based research. However fucoidan has been shown to be a good natural source of antioxidants and protective against oxidative stress.
In a double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial where the extract was applied topically, it also demonstrated marked inhibitory effects on processes linked to skin ageing. The major effects of Undaria Pinntifida extract were that it aided skin immunity, soothing and protection.
Hydrolyzed Candida Saitoana Extract
This is a fungi obtained from a fermentation process. ‘Fun guy’ jokes aside, according to the French company that developed it (Silab), it is designed to work with the skins natural repair mechanisms. Internal clinical studies using 1% of the ingredient showed a 19% boost in markers of skin cell regeneration and a 13.9% reduction in quantity of oxidation, allowing the company to conclude (from its own trials, which on the downside is a conflict of interest), that the ingredient could improve complexions and reduce oxidative damage from free radicals (such as those in pollution).
A leave-on exfoliant, Lactic acid contains alpha hydroxy-acid (AHA) extracted from milk, although most cosmetic brands use a synthetic form. This breaks down the material holding surface skin cells together, allowing them to be washed away and encouraging skin cell regeneration. It may also lighten skin discolouration.
This is a mild plant-based emulsifier. It contains Glycerine, a naturally occurring alcohol compound and oleic acid, a fatty acid. The glycerine is water-loving whereas the fatty acid is oil-loving therefore it ensures that all the ingredients in the product are well mixed together. It is also moisturising and hydrating.
This is the ‘blend of Polysaccharide gum to form a non-sticky, invisible shield’. A polysaccharide is just a carbohydrate molecule and this particular type is made from fermented plants. It binds water to the surface layer of the skin, creating a film that gives it a soft, smooth feeling and functions as an anti-irritant.
Citric acid is an alpha hydroxy-acid (AHA), which means it can act as a natural exfoliant, increasing skin cell turnover. It also increases the shelf life of the product by keeping the pH stable. The use of citric acid to treat our cosmetic concerns goes way back, as unfiltered apple cider vinegar has been a popular home remedy for clear skin for years, as it naturally contains citric acid.
Sophora Japonica Flower Extract
An extract of the flowers of ‘The Chinese Scholar Tree’, the dried flowers and buds are used as a medicinal herb in parts of Asia with the active ingredient being Quercetin. It is traditionally used in these countries to treat excessive bleeding and in fact, studies have shown that the compounds anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative properties could indeed have such an effect.
In terms of skincare, research has shown that a lipid-based delivery system is optimal for quercetin to exert antioxidant benefits, so it is good news that the product contains the fatty acids mentioned above, which will work in harmony with this ingredient for maximal effectiveness.
It also has the added benefits of helping to protect the skin’s elastin (which is what keeps our faces young and stretchy), as well as healing and improving the appearance of scars.
A salicylic acid mainly used for fragrance and to absorb UV light, though this should not replace your regular SPF. Some people can have reactions to this compound and it is therefore not recommended in those with sensitive skin.
We love the large range of natural plant-based ingredients and herbal extracts. Compared to other brands with similar ingredients, 24 pounds sounds like a reasonable price. Looking at the list above and comparing it to the research, it certainly seems as if the product could deliver on its claims. However most of the studies results were based on direct topical skin contact and the directions for the spray recommend that you spritz the solution on top of moisturiser or makeup, so it is not known how this may impact the results.
Topical benefits of two fucoidan-rich extracts from marine microalgae
A powerful Biological pathway for skin cell detoxification and longevity: Silab
Cosmetic and dermatologic use of alpha hydroxyl acids
Safety assessment of polysaccharide gums as used in cosmetics
Effects of Saphora Japonica on cerebral infarction
Formulation optimization and topical delivery of quercetin from solid lipid based nanosystems
Compound summary Benzyl Salicylate