Do you ever look in the mirror and wonder what happened? If not, believe me, it’s coming!
Why, why, why do we have to get old?!
As the largest organ in the body, your skin is waterproof (in both directions – we don’t want anything getting out now, do we?!), helps to control temperature, and protects against infection, injury and ultra-violet (UV) light damage, yet we often fail to take proper care of it. The visible part of the skin, the epidermis shows our age as it develops wrinkles and blemishes and it is where skin cells are produced, starting in the lowest part, then moving up through the layers to eventually flake from the surface. As you age, this process becomes slower, leading to dull, dehydrated and aged-looking skin. Veins become visible as spider naevi, also called thread veins, and redness or rosacea can develop.
Constant exposure to UV light, even indoors through the glass, damages our cells that produce melanin (pigment). This leads to age spots, and uneven or patchy skin tone, which is very ageing! Collagen and elastin in our skin, which is vital for firmness and elasticity, is produced further down in our dermis layer. These cells are broken down with age and sun exposure, so our skin becomes less firm, less flexible and less elastic, leading to sagging, fine lines and wrinkles. Finally, the layer of fat under the surface of the skin reduces and the effects of gravity start to take effect (as with the rest of our body – spaniel ears, anyone?), and sagging and hollowing of your facial features is the result.
What can you do about it?
The bottom line is there is nothing we can do about the first cause of skin ageing … your chronological age! However, most of the visible signs of ageing can be reduced, and controlled. A good quality sun-protection factor (SPF) is vital, every day to avoid damage to the collagen and elastin, and reduce the production of melanin. Avoiding overly hot showers, baths and saunas can help to avoid over-dilating the fine veins in the skin, which causes redness. Smoking and other pollutants are particularly damaging, causing additional lines around the mouth and eyes. Eating a healthy diet, low in sugar and processed food, and high in unprocessed food and natural fats, will help keep your skin bright and fresh, and provide it with the nutrients it needs to look its best.
What if the damage is already done?
Start using that SPF immediately and take advice to get a proper skin assessment. There are many solutions out there to improve the signs of ageing, including radiofrequency skin-tightening; laser and intense pulsed light (IPL) for redness, thread veins and pigment patches; and collagen stimulation for fine lines and wrinkles. Chemical skin peels stimulate your skin to produce cells more quickly, reducing pigmentation, lightening and brightening skin, and leading to fresh, younger-looking skin. Finally, a proper skincare routine is vital to prevent further damage and improve the signs of ageing – speak to a qualified practitioner to make sure you get the right products for you.
Look after your greatest asset, and maybe you can delay that ‘moment in the mirror!
Sally is Nursing Director of Xodos Aesthetics, based in Lichfield and has bared her face for the blog in this picture!!