As we get older, skin cell functioning slows down and environmental damage, from things like sunlight and smoking, can lead to premature ageing. Fight back with our eight-step guide to achieving younger-looking skin.
1. Wear SPF every day
It's estimated that 90 per cent of premature ageing is caused by UV rays, and protecting your skin from sun damage is the most important thing you can do. Choose a moisturiser with an SPF of 15 or higher and wear it every day, even in winter. Limit the amount of time you spend in direct sunlight and reapply a high-factor sunscreen every couple of hours in summer.
2. Choose the right moisturiser
As we get older, the skin tends to dry out. If you're prone to dry skin it's important to help the skin retain as much of its natural moisture as possible. As well as helping to keep the skin supple, moisturising will help protect it from chemicals and pollutants in the environment. Products that contain natural fatty acids will help to smooth out fine lines and wrinkles, making the skin appear plumper and more youthful.
Studies show that people who smoke 20 cigarettes a day suffer from accelerated skin ageing – by as much as 10 years in some cases. Tobacco smoke harbours a damaging mix of toxins, many of which are absorbed directly into the bloodstream. These toxins break down collagen and elastin, the protein that allows bodily tissues to resume their shape after stretching. Without this elastic ability, skin is weaker and more prone to drooping and sagging. Combined with poor blood circulation associated with smoking, this can lead to sallow skin, wrinkles and under-eye circles.
4. Take care when you cleanse
It's important to cleanse the skin to remove make-up, sunscreens and dirt, which might potentially clog the pores, but using the wrong cleansing regime can dry the skin, leading to premature ageing. Many soaps and foaming cleansers do more harm than good, stripping the skin of its natural oils. Choose perfume-free, neutral pH soaps and cleansers and always moisturise afterwards.
5. Don't over exfoliate
As we age, skin cell turnover slows down. Gentle exfoliation can help speed up skin cell production and reveal a more youthful, radiant complexion – but be careful. Harsh abrasives can tear the skin cells, leaving it more prone to dryness and sensitivity. Opt for gentle exfoliators with micro-beads and avoid anything with a "gritty" texture.
6. Try a Retinol cream
Retinol moisturisers contain chemicals derived from Vitamin A, which is known to reduce the appearance of wrinkles. However, as most over the counter anti-ageing creams contain only very mild retinoids, which have no scientifically proven effect on wrinkles, you really need to see a skin specialist who can medically prescribe retinoids to see a difference.
7. Good skin diet
Ditch refined white bread, rice and pasta and choose whole grains and complex carbohydrates like brown rice, bulgur and whole wheat pasta. These are rich in fatty acids which help to keep the skin wrinkle-free. Women over the age of 40 who consumed the highest amount of vitamin C were less likely to develop wrinkles than those who consumed lower levels, according to a study published in the American Journal of Nutrition. Vitamin C is vital for the creation of collagen, which keeps skin smooth and elastic. Good sources include oranges, tomatoes, red peppers, and dark green leafy vegetables like broccoli and sprouts.
8. Drink green tea
Swap your usual cuppa for green tea. It not only hydrates like water, but is packed with flavonoids and catechins - antioxidants which help protect against free radicals that can cause ageing skin.
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