As time goes by, it is inevitable that signs of ageing start to appear in our skin. The skin is made up of an outer layer called the epidermis and an inner layer called the dermis. Pigment producing cells called melanocytes lie within the epidermis while elastin fibres (elastic fibres giving the skin its suppleness) and collagen fibres (giving strength to the skin) lie within the dermis. Finally an under-layer of fatty tissue plumps out the skin.
As we age, all of these layers of skin are affected. The epidermis and dermis of the skin and the fatty tissue underneath thin out causing a crepe like appearance. Thinning of the skin along with less elastin and collagen production also results in wrinkles, particularly in highly mobile areas of the face such as around the forehead, eyes and mouth. The skin starts to sag due to less support and the gradual effects of gravity and changes to the facial tissues. More pigment and uneven pigment is produced by the melanocytes in the epidermis resulting in uneven pigmentation and age spots. Finally, our skin becomes drier and can feel rougher and small broken blood vessels can appear.
Most of us would like to prevent or minimise these changes as much as possible. To a certain extent all of these changes will happen to all of us. However there are ways to slow down or minimise ageing of our skin.
Some of the ways in which we can protect our skin from future damage include:
Sun exposure greatly increases the rate of ageing of the skin. Using a regularly applied broad spectrum sun block of at least SPF 30 when outdoors, covering up with a wide-brimmed hat and loose clothing and avoiding the more intense sunlight of the midday period will all help protect your skin against accelerated ageing and indeed against some skin cancers as well. Sun blocks need to protect against both UVA and UVB rays. It is particularly important to protect the more delicate skin of young children as they will burn more easily. To optimise sun protection, sunscreens can be combined with topical (applied to the skin) anti-oxidants such as Vitamin C serums. Vitamin C has other anti-ageing properties as well as UV protection, such as helping with collagen production and helping to reduce hyper-pigmentation.
Smoking has a definite ageing effect on the skin. Smokers tend to have more wrinkles and more defined wrinkles compared to non-smokers. This happens particularly around the lips and mouth area.
Keeping your skin clean and well-hydrated helps care for it considerably. Ensuring that all makeup is removed but avoiding harsh products keeps your skin clean. Using but not overusing a moisturiser helps your skin fresh, soft and hydrated. It does not necessarily have to be an expensive product.
Eating a healthy balanced diet, with fresh vegetables, fruit and protein and keeping well hydrated, will have a knock-on effect on improving your skin quality.