Wrinkles, crows feet, smile lines and sagging jowls.
In a modern world where options like surgery are at our fingertips and countless promises are made by the cosmetics industry to provide ‘anti-ageing’ effects, can we really ‘prevent’ the ageing process or better still, stop it in its tracks…?
To know our options when it comes to ‘anti-ageing’, we first need to understand the processes that our bodies and skins go through, resulting in what we see as ‘ageing’.
As we all know, our bodies go through biological changes from the minute we are born, resulting in visible signs and symptoms to the skin structure and function. Some of these are due to our natural ageing process, but in most instances our lifestyles accelerate this and result in a term we all fear – premature ageing.
These are some of the most common age related skin concerns that I encounter:
“My skin no longer looks luminous or bright, and feels rough”
In our 20’s the skin renews itself roughly every 28 days, whereas by the time we reach our 40’s this almost doubles, taking the skin approximately 45 days to renew! As we age, we experience a decrease in our metabolism and circulation, resulting in everything else slowing down as well.
A great way to increase and maintain luminosity in the skin is to EXFOLIATE and HYDRATE!!
“My skin is much drier and more sensitive than it used to be”
In our younger years, skin replaces 50-60% of its natural barrier in just 12 hours.
(Head over to my blog all about sensitivity to learn more about your skins barrier function – http://www.bella-beauty.co.uk/feeling-delicate-today/). However as we age, our skin’s barrier recovery can end up taking up to a week!!! This is why we find that inflammation like wounds and scars take a lot longer to heal as we get older.
The best way to aid sensitivity and dryness in our skin is to use a calming, anti-inflammatory approach to aid barrier recovery.
“I feel my skin getting thinner, and lacking volume and elasticity”
Here is a not so fun fact for you – from the age of 30, we lose 1% of collagen PER YEAR! So by the time we reach just 40 years old, we have already lost 10% of our skin’s natural collagen.
It is cells called Fibroblasts that produce collagen, hyaluronic acid and elastin, and unfortunately it is these little heroes that we lose over the years. Hence why it is so beneficial to incorporate a hyaluronic acid or collagen based product into your routine!
“My skin tone is getting very uneven now”
Similarly to the loss of our natural collagen and hyaluronic acid, we also lose approximately 6-8% of our melanocyte cells per decade from the age of 30. This means that the even skin tone you have taken for granted in your teens and 20’s will slowly start to change and you may start to notice a more ‘uneven’ skin tone developing.
Common Areas of Concern
There are a variety of ‘areas’ of skin that people tell me they aren’t happy with and would like to improve when it comes to their faces. However there are two particular areas that stand our by far, and these are eyes and lips. There are infact some logical reasons why these areas demand more of our attention than others, and here is some info on why…
The skin around our eyes is thinner and more delicate than in other areas of the face, and infact our whole body. It also has fewer natural lipids to help prevent Trans Epidermal Water Loss (the process of losing our skins natural moisture).
** Fun fact – The skin around our eyes is roughly the thickness of 5 sheets of paper **
Some of the most common eye area concerns are:
Fine lines and wrinkles – Years of sun exposure, squinting, smiling and free radical damage break down the collagen and elastin fibres that keep skin taut.
Dark circles – Hyperpigmentation, loss of fat, and prominent de-oxygenated blood vessels that are visible through thinner skin contribute to a blush appearance.
Puffiness – Hereditary, fat deposits, hormonal fluctuations, allergies and weather conditions can all promote puffiness, a common manifestation of mild facial oedema or excess fluid retention in soft tissue that leads to swelling.
A dry, crepey appearance – The fragile eye area is more prone to dehydration because it has difficulty retaining moisture.
It is always important to remember to:
- Be gentle around the eyes when cleansing or applying product
- Use formulas specifically designed for use around the eyes
- Reinforce hydration to minimise the appearance of fine lines
With virtually no stratum corneum and reduced complement of oil and sweat glands, the lips are vulnerable to drying out.
As we age, sagging can occur in the perioral (mouth) region and vertical feather lines can become more pronounced, especially if we have a history of smoking.
Marionette lines, which run from the corners of the mouth to the chin can be more alarming than other wrinkles because they don’t just make us look older, they can cause the face to look sad or angry.
The only source of moisture to the lips is saliva, which actually dries out natural oils from the skin around the lips. As a result, moisture evaporates from the lips much faster than from skin, causing lips to dry out easily.
** Fun fact – Skin around lips has 3-5 layers, while the rest of the body has 16 layers!! **
The best ways to help maintain skin health for our lips is to:
- Gently exfoliate to keep lips looking smooth
- Restore plumpness and rehydration with targeted lip products
- Focus on the entire perioral area (right up to nose, out to smile lines and below bottom lip line) to treat laughter and feather lines.
So let’s now look at some of the ingredients hitting headlines for their ‘anti-ageing’ properties and how we can incorporate them into our routines…
Now this is one of my personal favourites, but there are a few things to know first before we all run out and buy a retinol product to add to our routines.
Retinol is the strongest Vitamin A product available without prescription. This means that it’s the closest thing we can have to help transform our skins without needing a doctor or dermatologist.
- Regulates epidermal cell growth and skin renewal
- Stimulates collagen synthesis
- Prevents atrophy (waste) of connective tissue
- Stimulates Glycosaminoglycan (GAG), or Hyaluronic Acid, synthesis
- Normalises pre-cancerous cells
This all sounds great, and it is! However, always be aware of the form of Retinol that you are applying!
There are 4 types of Retinol:
- Retinoic Acid – This is the most powerful and biologically active form of Retinol
- Retinol – The 2nd most active. When it is applied to the skin it becomes Retinoic Acid.
- Hydroxy Pinacolone
- Retinol Palmitate – This is the mildest form of Retinol and can be common in most products.
One key thing that is most important to look for is to ensure that the Retinol in a product is microencapsulated.
As an ingredient, Retinol is very unstable and therefore when you apply it to your skin, a majority actually ‘evaporates’ and so we are not receiving the full concentrated benefit of the ingredient as it is not able to reach deep enough into our epidermis (skin) to make a significant difference. When Retinol becomes microencapsulated it stabilises and cannot be lost and therefore we receive the full benefit of the ingredient into our skins, thus seeing a greater improvement within a shorter time.
Another thing to keep in mind is that a variety of medications can contain Retinol, including Isotretinoin, Tretinoin and Roaccutane, and these can be extremely drying on the skin. It is therefore really important to use a good moisturiser when on any such medications to help maintain optimum skin hydration.
We naturally produce Vitamin C, however over the years the rate of production slows down and it can take 2-3 weeks for our bodies to build enough for the benefits to take effect.
- Vitamin C protects the cells and skin’s support structure from UV related damage as it is a powerful antioxidant
- Reduces inflammation as neutralising ROS reduces inflammation
- Promotes collagen production as it is a vital co-factor in the manufacture of procollagen (the precursor to collagen)
- Reduces hyperpigmentation due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effect
- Boosts the efficacy of sunscreen.
There are 3 types of Vitamin C:
- MAP (Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate) – This form takes 3 days to absorb into our skins
- Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate – This form absorbs straight away
- Ascorbyl Palmitate
Plant extracts can be found in a wide variety of products nowadays, and there are lots of benefits from adding these into your daily skincare routine.
- They contain Flavanoids which provide an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and immune boosting effect.
- They contain Phytolipids which replenish lipid barrier, optimise hydration and provide antioxidant protection.
- Their unique benefits may include boosting collagen, regulating pigment production and increasing circulation.
Some very popular and great plant extracts include:
- Rosehip oil
- Argan oil
- Shea butter
- Sesame seed extract
- Indian gentian violet
Now this is another one I am seeing pop up more and more in skincare ranges, however it is actually one of the ingredients that has been around the longest.
There are 4 types of peptides:
- Argenine Lysine Polypeptide – This acts as a sugar trap and prevents sugar from attaching to collagens, making them inflexible (Similar to a Curly Wurly chocolate bar that is gooey and flexible, but when you put it in the fridge it goes hard – sugars to this to collagen)!
- Oligopeptide 34 and 51
- Parmitol Pentapeptide / Tetrapeptide
- Acetyl Tetrapeptide 15
- Peptides activate tissue growth factors and stimulate protein production
- Inhibit MMP (matrix metalloproteinases, or enzyme) activity.
- Boosts GAGs production (see Retinol section above).
- Controls or regulates biological processes and chemical messaging
So now that we know some of the best ingredients to look out for in our hunt for the magic ‘anti-ageing’ products, we need to know when and how is best to be using them.
If you are a skincare client of mine, you will know that the best time to be applying your ‘anti-ageing’ products is at night, and here’s why…
Circadian rhythms are distinct fluctuations in biological activity that occur when we are awake and when we are asleep. These fluctuations are governed by the body’s biological clock, or ‘body clock’, and how it responds to light and dark.
Our skin is nocturnal, so while we sleep our cells are in regeneration mode, trying to repair damage that has occured throughout the day – hence why it is also really important to be getting a good nights sleep every night!
There is an Evening Phase between 9pm-11pm when our skin is best at absorbing active ingredients, followed by a Night Phase between 11pm-6am, when our skin repairs and regeneration accelerates.
Scientific researchers believe that skin cell renewal, a critical aspect of the skin repair process, is faster at night. The skin also excretes less sebum, loses more water, is warmer, has a more acidic pH, produces more melanin to suppress UV-induced damage to cells and repairs itself more at night than during the day. If all of that wasn’t enough, our cell regeneration increases at almost double the rate, while collagen production rises as well.
It is therefore vital that we find products to help capitalise on the distinct behaviour of our skin at night to help increase penetration of active ingredients and make more efficient use of these while our skin is in repair mode.
If, like many, you have looked into treatment options to help improve any age related skin concerns you will probably been hit with an abundance of options!
Here are just a few treatments I offer here at Bella Beauty Skin Centre to help tackle age related skin concerns:
CACI Non-Surgical Facelifts – Standing for Computer Aided Cosmetology Instrument, we use microcurrent technology to lift and firm the facial muscles. This treatment was originally developed by doctors to aid in the repair process of strokes and Bels Palsy. Microcurrent recharges and re-educates the muscles and promotes regeneration at a cellular level. It can be benefical for the whole face and neck, or just to target specific areas of concern such as eyes, jowl or lips.
LED Light Therapy – Blue and Red LED lights are clinically proven to be beneficial for the skin. They can be used to energise the skin and increase blood and lymph circulation, collagen synthesis and cell metabolic rate.
Microdermabrasion – Using a crystal-free abrader tip to provide a deep exfoliation and to help encourage the renewal or skin cells, circulation and collagen production, resulting in an improvement in the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, pigmentation and dry skin.
So there we have it, a little more insight into our skins ageing process and the best ways to aid the signs of it. Overall I always advise my clients that prevention is better than cure, so it’s vital to be thinking of adding in an ‘anti-ageing’ product from our late 20’s. However, there is no text book age to start and it varies from person to person. If and when ageing becomes a concern for you, that is the best time to start tackling it in a way that suits you.
Always remember, as the skin takes it’s time to regenerate it’s important to allow a good 3-6 months to see a noticeable change in your skin, no matter what new products or treatments you try. Often you will start to see an improvement after just a month or so, but consistency and commitment are key so if you give a new routine a try, you and your skin will reap the rewards 🙂
As always, if I can answer any further questions about your skin and the ageing process we all encounter, please do pop me a message via my Contact page – http://www.bella-beauty.co.uk/contact/
Until next time, I hope you’re all enjoying this glorious sunny start to the summer, and don’t forget your SPF 🙂
Owner and Founder of Bella Beauty Skin Centre