This article is not a ‘Who Dun It’ so we will tell you the answer at the beginning…
1. Great Sun Protection
2. Great Skin Care Products
5. Regular Salon Treatments
6. Collagen rebuilding
Obviously you are looking for a bit more than just a list so we will expand it out a bit more, but firstly it may be useful to understand how your skin is made up and when and why it ages. With this information it will make it easier to start planning for great skin for the future.
Having great looking skin is something most of us aspire to but unfortunately as the years start to tick on, the skin starts to age. The sun, our diets and even our genes play a role in how well we age. Wrinkles, fine lines and dull skin can happen at virtually any time during your life, although you will probably start noticing your skin changing from mid twenties to 30.
Intrinsic ageing is the first type of ageing. It is caused by your genes, that is, it’s inherited from your parents. The second type of ageing is extrinsic ageing, which is caused by environmental factors. Symptoms of intrinsic ageing (chronological aging) include dry and thin skin, fine lines and wrinkles, abnormal blood vessels, age spots, benign and malignant skin tumours. Intrinsic ageing is a continuous process. While intrinsic ageing begins in the 20s, the signs of intrinsic aging are not usually visible for decades. It’s all a bit out of your control as it is your genes that control how quickly the normal ageing process unfolds. Extrinsic-aging is a different process altogether, and generally involves damage to the collagen and elastin fibres which cause the skin to wrinkle and sag. This extrinsic or environmental damage causes the skin to lose its anti-oxidation ability, which is why it is so important to treat your skin with products that are high in anti-oxidants, but we will come to that later. External factors that age skin prematurely are repetitive facials expressions, gravity, sleeping positions, poor lifestyle such as excessive alcohol and smoking and of course sun damage.
One thing is for sure, unless you are blessed with incredible genes, if you don’t look after your skin with the right skin care and treatments, you will look older than you need to.
1. Great Sun Protection
One of the beauty industry cons is the issue of sun block. I have noticed lately that it is getting hard to find a sun block that is 30+ SPF, all the big cosmetic companies such as L’Oreal are all making sun blocks 50+, 60+, 80+ and even higher. This is purely marketing! There is currently no way of measuring the effectiveness of having a sun block with a higher than 30+ SPF, and in fact, any higher than 30 can damage your health (more about that soon). In order to get good protection, use a 30+SPF which gives you broad spectrum protection. A broad spectrum sun block is made up of a physical block UVB protection (zinc oxide etc) and a chemical block, UVA protection. Incidentally, the way to remember this is UAV for Aging and UVB for Burning. Manufacturers can’t add more zinc to their product otherwise we would end up looking silly with a very white face, so they add more chemicals some of which are harmful. So when you purchase a sun block go for a broad spectrum 30+ SPF, and don’t fall for all the marketing hype put out by the big companies. And please, don’t cover your children with these products. The other sun block myth is factor 15 sunscreen. The Drug and Therapeutics Bulletin advises that factor 15 puts people at risk of skin cancer by using these products. The British National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence also advises us to use only 30+ SPF. It also advises that we should be applying our sun block liberally, as if you don’t apply enough you also put your skin at risk of skin cancer and of course unnecessary lines and wrinkles.
Fortunately sanity is beginning to prevail and the regulations around sunscreens are starting to get tightened up. An article I read recently (June 2011) says that the United States regulators are finally requiring sunscreen manufacturers to test their products’ effectiveness against sun rays that pose the greatest risk of skin cancer. Under the new rules, manufacturers will have to follow stricter guidelines when describing how well their products block ultraviolet B rays. Sunscreens that do not protect against both ultraviolet A and B rays and have a sun protective factor, or SPF, below 15 will have to carry a warning label. Any products below 15 SPF have been shown only to help reduce sunburn, not skin cancer or early skin ageing. Products that protect against UVA and UVB will be labelled “broad spectrum”. Only sunscreens with an SPF 15 or higher can claim to lower the risk of cancer. The FDA also proposes capping the highest SPF value at 50, unless companies can provide results of further testing that support a higher number (which of course they can’t). As mentioned earlier, some products claim to offer SPF protection of 100 or higher.
2. Great skincare products
Not all skin care is made equal. Just because you are spending lots of money on your cosmetics, doesn’t mean that they are any good. To get the results that you are after you need to be using a cosmeceutical range. A cosmeceutical is a combination of the words cosmetic and pharmaceutical. It refers to the new generation of skin care which uses high concentrations of active ingredients known by dermatologists and scientists to have a real effect on the skin. While I say ‘new’, cosmeceuticals have been on the market for close to ten years but certainly not all companies manufacture products with the required level of ingredients and the types of ingredients that would bring them into the cosmeceutical arena. The cosmeceutical market is expect to grow by over 8% this year to more than $US8 billion driven by a stream of technologically advanced product launches offering age-defying benefits to an aging population. Gone are the days when customers were willing to pay for skin care that just smelt nice and had a pretty bottle, now they want products that are prove to work.
Also we highly recommend that you purchase your cosmeceutical products from a beauty salon and not on line. There is a very good reason for this… if the products can make a difference (ie they have enough active ingredients in them), then you need to ensure that you are using the right ones. If you end up with a product that is not suitable for your skin type then you can damage your skin. Also keep away from products that are heavily fragranced. Toners are also really a thing of the past, they were used to balance the pH of the skin but now days most skincare is pH balanced and toners tend to be harsh and very possibly alcohol based. If you must use a toner then go for a spritzer, these tend to be gentler and less drying on the skin. By selecting a salon range and purchasing it from a salon you are not just purchasing products to put on your face, you are getting the expertise and advice and the perfect products to suit your skin.
We also highly recommend that you use a good powder mineral makeup (one that is 100% natural with no fillers, buffers or preservatives) as they reduce the chances of irritation as well as looking wonderfully natural. If you choose a good one it is actually safe enough to sleep in if you should get home late and be too tired to take your makeup off. Although we don’t recommend it.
Now this recommendation actually makes sun screen even more important. Exfoliation is used to take the deal skin cells off and these cells are there to protect your skin. So if you are taking away your skin’s protection then you need to be even more vigilant to add protection. Most dermatologists recommend that you use an exfoliant two or three times a week. (No more than this as it can dry your skin out). It is scientifically proven that exfoliation softens skin, and makes superficial lines less noticeable. Just remember, like all skin care products on the market, not all exfoliating products are made equal. The dead skin cells that you are trying to remove are held on by an intercellular glue (a sticky layer) and in order to get a good result from your exfoliation you need to be able to remove this as well as the dead skin cells themselves. This requires AHA’s and BHA’s in your cleansing products. AHA’s (alpha hydroxyl acid) and BHA’s (beta hydroxyl acid) are naturally occurring compounds found in milk and fruit. There is some concern that glycolic acid (made from fruit) can cause irritation and the skin to dry out, this is because the molecules are very small so they tend to penetrate very deeply, because of this a lot of cosmetic manufacturers are now using Lactic acid made of milk, as it tends to be more moisturising..
There are a few reasons why exfoliating is so important, apart from making your skin look bright and healthy. One is that with the dead skin cells (that protective barrier) gone it is easier to actually get cosmetics, with high levels of vitamins and antioxidants in them, absorbed into the dermal layers of the skin and so therefore they are more likely to make a visible improvement to your skin. The second is that by using exfoliating products on your skin you are also forcing the increase of cell turnover and therefore also stimulating the production of collagen and elastin to help firm skin tone.
Exfoliating can also help with enlarged pores. Enlarged pores are generally caused by the accumulation of dead cells and sebum in pores, over time this causes the pores to expand and stretch as a build-up of this debris occurs. It is impossible to eliminate enlarged pores completely once they have occurred, but you can reduce them and refine the skin in the area with regular exfoliating using AHAs and BHAs. Ideally you will also have regular peels at your local salon as they can apply more concentrated peeling compounds to your skin. As well as refining skin texture it also assists in the purging of the pores of trapped debris thereby reducing the chance of the pores being enlarged in the first place.
Moisture is one of the most import things to consider in order to have your skin looking bright and nourished. Ideally you will use a Vitamin C&E serum under your moisturiser and then you will apply your SPF 30+ sun block then your mineral makeup. Sounds like a lot but this will only take a few minutes in the morning. There are little tips like applying your serum and then doing your hair while it has time to be absorbed before adding your moisturiser.
Nothing surpasses salon treatments. No amount of exfoliation that you do at home is going to match a peel or microdermabrasion treatment that you have at a salon. They are highly trained experts and they can assess your skin type and then provide the treatments that will give you the most benefit. As well, if they are worth their salt… they will have machines! There are new wizzy machines coming out every month that do twice as much in half the time. Gone are the days when women (mainly) are happy to have a nice relaxing facial and not see a significant to their skin and machines help.
Every treatment that you have and every product that you use needs to be all about stimulating collagen. As you read earlier, as you age your collagen fibres get less elastic and they also slow down in their reproduction so everything that you do need to be stimulating the production of collagen and elastin. Even exfoliating (if you are using the right product) will stimulate collagen.
7. Life style
Sorry but this definitely comes into it. Anything that affects your health and wellbeing will effect your skin and the way it looks.
Getting a great night’s sleep… not only will you look positively radiant and feel great in the morning but you will also reduce your chances of getting depression. There is also some science that says that lack of sleep also causes the body to gain weight. There doesn’t seem to be any bad sides to getting a full 8 hours sleep and the benefits are enormous.
Staying hydrated… they say that by the time you feel thirsty it’s too late, you are already de-hydrated. I am not sure that that is true but constantly sipping on water through the day particularly in summer is essential to general wellbeing and of course the hydration of your skin.
Exercise at least 4-5 times a week… while this may sound awful to some of you, many people find that once they get into it, they find that exercise is addictive. Just hang in there, you will soon find that your body will start to get the hang of it and you will love the feeling of being fit and even the pain will start to feel good. And your body will love you for it.