Ageing is inevitable, but there’s no reason we can’t care for our skin whilst ageing gracefully and beautifully. The desire for youth has created a multibillion dollar industry, with countless creams touting impossible benefits. Don’t buy into the hype. Take it back to basics, and treat your skin with love and respect.
Remember, prevention is key. Taking care of your skin and reducing skin stresses will stand your skin in good stead for the future.
1. Incorrect exfoliation.
Skin may feel smooth after a hard scrub, but this is due to inflammation. At a micro level, rubbing your skin aggressively with a face cloth or face scrub can cause irritation and inflammation to cells.
Repetitive scrubbing can lead to the breakdown of collagen and elastin, the fibres that keep skin firm. Many face scrubs contain plastic beads or other materials that are not perfectly spherical; these particles have jagged edges that scratch and cut skin. The plastic beads found in many face scrubs are also terrible for the environment when washed down the drain.
- Be gentle. Try an AHA or BHA product that will gently dissolve the dead cells on the skins surface, and encourage collagen production. Or use a soft cloth with your cleanser.
- Try a microdermabrasion session or a gentle peel at a reputable clinic if you desire a more drastic effect. These treatments are wonderful to do in the lead up to a wedding, or monthly to improve skin. It is also worth noting that correctly exfoliated skin will absorb product more efficiently.
2. Tanning and sunbeds.
If you are still tanning and sun bedding: STOP.
Aside from the obvious health risks, UVA rays cause damage to connective tissue and blood vessels deep in the skin, while UVB rays cause a thickening of the outer layers of skin. Damage from sun exposure can take years to show, with pigmentation and wrinkles appearing later in life. Protect your skin now, and reap the benefits down the track when you look ten years younger than your age.
- Quit sun beds and sunbathing. Always use a broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 when you’re in the sun. Wear a broad rimmed hat to protect the face, a shirt to protect shoulders and back, and avoid direct, prolonged contact with the sun between the hours of 11.00am and 3.00pm.
- You can still enjoy summer, and the “feel good” effects of being in the sun. Be religious with sunscreen application, and always take extra care with your face and neck.
- Please note that if you have a tan, you have sun damage. There is no way around this apart from self-tanning. Protecting the skin and reducing sun exposure is the best thing you can do for your skin.
3. Pulling and tugging at skin.
Next time you’re applying your moisturiser or makeup, watch the way you handle your skin. If your skin is moving under your fingers, it is being stretched. Constant stretching and tugging can affect the elasticity of the skin (that reduces naturally as we age). This is especially true around the eye area.
- Be as gentle with your skin as possible. Treat it like a delicate fabric. Resist the temptation to rush through your skincare application; pat and press products into your skin gently.
- For those suffering itchy eyes and allergies, try a cool compress on the eye area. Rubbing the eyes repeatedly can be highly irritating. Consider having antihistamine eye drops on hand for quick relief, and limit exposure to allergens that trigger this response.
4. Using highly fragrant products.
Often we purchase a product because we love its scent, but fragrance can be very problematic for skin. If you suffer from skin irritation or a skin condition, eliminating fragrance from your regime is one of the best things you can do to help your skin. This includes synthetic and natural scents.
Fragrances cause irritation at a cellular level, and can even damage skin fibres, which leads to skin ageing. For more in depth information, The Cosmetics Cop Paula Begoun explains it perfectly in her article here: http://www.paulaschoice.com/expert-advice/sensitive-skin/_/fragrance-and-skin-care-smells-like-trouble#reacts
- Opt for fragrance free products and limit fragrance exposure to the face and neck (this includes natural based cosmetics with essential oils). Stop buying based on smell; this is purely a marketing tool and has no benefit for your skin. Get your fragrance fix from your perfume.
5. Incorrect make-up removal.
Gentle but effective makeup removal is essential for healthy skin. Micro particles of makeup left on skin can cause irritation and potential ageing. Eye makeup removal is especially important; the delicate eye area needs extra care, and any leftover particles of mascara or liner can wreak havoc on skin. Proper mascara removal will also prevent lash breakage.
- Use an oil-based makeup remover to dissolve and remove stubborn makeup. You can even use plant oils like coconut or almond on a damp cotton pad if you prefer a natural option. This step should be completed pre-cleansing, with your cleanser taking care of the rest.
- A cotton bud dipped in makeup remover is excellent to roll mascara off lashes, and remove stubborn eyeliner gently.
6. Your sleeping position.
If you’re a stomach sleeper, you may be creating facial lines and sagging without even knowing it. We sleep for nearly a third of our lives. Cumulatively, this nightly stretching and pulling of the skin can cause loss of elasticity and wrinkles.
- Sleep on your back as much as possible. Some women swear by silk or satin pillowcases as they are more gentle on our skin (and hair).
Daily exposure to sunlight can damage our skin but not just from UVA and UVB rays. Squinting in bright light causes lines around the eyes; this is especially true if you spend a lot of time outdoors playing sport or exercising.
- Religious use of quality protective sunglasses will keep the muscles around your eyes relaxed, and the skin smooth. Use of sunglasses will also protect your eyes from the sun’s dangerous rays.
8. Poor diet.
The white poison we know as sugar is causing enormous health issues in society. Aside from this, sugar degrades collagen and elastin in the skin and actively ages you.
Poor diet in general will not allow the body to function properly, can affect hormones, and will also affect detoxification processes in the liver and kidneys. For an expert, in-depth view and solutions, read “Beauty From The Inside Out” by Dr Libby.
What we eat plays an enormous role in the quality of our skin. Good fats are essential for healthy skin; be sure to include avocado, fish, nuts and good oils in your diet. Foods high in antioxidants will benefit your entire body, and prevent oxidative damage. Think blueberries, all fruit and vegetables, green and white teas, and super foods like acai and goji berries. For a full run down, check out this article.
- Adequate water consumption is essential for general health, and for healthy skin.
- Minimise or reduce alcohol intake.
- For some individuals, dairy products can exacerbate skin conditions such as eczema and dermatitis. Limiting or eliminating dairy can be very beneficial for some people.
Aside from sun exposure, nothing will age you faster than smoking.
Smoking reduces oxygen flow to the skin, damages cells and skin fibres, and creates deep wrinkles around the mouth. The ageing process accelerates, and this will continue as long as you smoke. Smoking also delays wound healing.
- Stop smoking. The good news is, the sooner you stop, the sooner you can have your health back. If you take care of your skin after giving up smoking, there’s no reason you can’t have healthy, beautiful skin.
- Quitline is a great resource for those who need some help giving up. They offer subsidised nicotine replacement therapy, and option to wean yourself off the addictive component of cigarettes. Phone Quitline on 0800 778 778.