Ageing. Wrinkles. Growing old. These are all words that many women dread to hear. While growing older is inevitable, and there is no way to stop it from happening, we can all aim to age gracefully while taking a few steps to help slow down the process. But how do we keep our skins looking radiant for as long as possible? What can we really do?
While genetics do play a small part in how well we do or don’t age, there are a few lifestyle changes that we can make to improve the condition of our skin. Alcohol, smoking, caffeine, medication, stress and lack of sleep can all affect your skin in one way or another.
Ever wondered why smokers have more wrinkles? Tobacco and the chemicals in cigarettes affect the body’s process of renewing skin cells and also affects the production of collagen (this is what gives your skin its elasticity) and less elasticity means more wrinkles. Smoking and stress both slow down your circulation, leaving your skin looking puffy and increasing dark circles under your eyes. Here’s a good reason to quit smoking: The second highest leading cause of premature wrinkles is smoking! Sun exposure tops the list, so make sunscreen your best friend and use at least an SPF30 or higher.
Watch what you eat and drink. The saying “you are what you eat” is true when it comes to your skin. Fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meat and fish oil (or a daily fish oil supplement) can do wonders for your skin. Staying hydrated is very important and the best way to do this is with water. Not a fan? Try adding a slice of lemon or a sprig of mint, or add a little 100% fruit juice to it (make sure that most of it is water and not fruit juice!).
Alcohol dehydrates your body and deprives your skin of receiving the vitamins it needs. Excessive caffeine intake interferes with digestion by slowing down the absorption rate of vitamins, which will affect the appearance of your skin making it look dull or ashen, while certain medications (like steroids) can dry out or dehydrate your skin and others, like contraceptives, may cause pigmentation.
Day or night cream containing Hyaluronic Acid (also known as hyaluronan, hyaluronate or HA) can also play a vital role in keeping skin hydrated. Hyaluronic acid has the ability to hold 1000 times its weight in water, making it an excellent moisturiser. Hydrated skin looks younger, smoother and softer and the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles is instantly decreased. For more info on hyaluronic acid, have a look at this article by Thank Your Skin.
Ever heard of “Beauty Sleep”? Lack of sleep affects your immune system and you may be prone to anger and increased stress. A minimum of 8 hours sleep per night is what your body needs for optimal mental and physical health. A good nights sleep will help reduce puffiness and dark circles under the eyes. And don’t forget to exercise! 30 minutes at least 3 to 5 days per week is an important part of slowing down the ageing process and it helps reduce stress levels.
Follow a good cleansing routine (see previous post “Cleansers, Toners & Moisturisers”) and always remove make-up before going to bed. By the way, it’s a waste of money to use expensive anti-ageing creams in your 20’s and early 30’s, before your skin starts to show any signs of wrinkles or ageing. If you’re cleansing with decent products, using a good eye cream, and sunscreen daily, are drinking enough water, and getting sufficient exercise, your skin should still be looking its best, naturally. Anti-ageing creams can be used from your mid-thirties onwards, once fine lines begin to show around the eyes.
And don’t forget your sunglasses. Wearing sunglasses protects the delicate skin around your eyes from sun damage and stops you from squinting. Continuous squinting in bright light can make you more prone to crow’s feet and other wrinkles around the eyes.
If you’re already ageing gracefully, don’t despair! It’s never too late to make some of these lifestyle changes and feel a difference in your skin and overall health and wellbeing.