How can I treat my ageing skin naturally?
Ageing skin can be treated naturally by wearing sun protection such as SPF 30+ sunscreen and a hat, avoiding sugar, sticking to a diet rich in phytoestrogens, antioxidants and vitamin C, as well as doing facial exercises, getting enough sleep and wearing a nutrient-rich moisturiser.
7 natural ways to treat ageing skin
I've seen a lot of posts on Twitter recently claiming that an anti-ageing skincare protocol that works is simply not possible without loads of money. I truly beg to differ! The skin can be made to look and feel younger. It can be done naturally and without costing the earth. Ideally, the earlier this starts the better, so at the first signs of ageing skin (you can read about these here).
The following is what scientists and skin experts are recommending as a proven strategy to treat ageing skin naturally:
1. Wear Sun protection
We hear about this daily from dermatologists and our national health services (1). The sun (so lovely but) is the single biggest ageing culprit capable of causing damage even through light clothing and car windows. So, SPF 30+ (I wear SPF 50), even in winter, and wear your hat!
Fake tan is an excellent way to get those bronzed legs without ageing the skin. There are some really good organic and natural brands available.
As well as the sun, find out what else as can age skin in my blog 'What has the greatest ageing effect on skin'.
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2. Get some beauty sleep
It works! Even one night of sleep deprivation can affect skin hydration (2). This adds shadows to the skin and makes wrinkles look more obvious. Chronic or long-term sleep problems have been linked to loss of elasticity in the skin and slower recovery. Unsurprisingly, sleep-deprived women have also been found to be more critical of their appearance (3). A mental image of myself with the worst pillow wrinkles after an (albeit fun) late night.
The bottom line is that being tired is ageing and we shouldn't put ourselves through that. Go to bed before 11 pm every night or whatever hour will assure you at least 7-9 hours of sleep a night. It may help to try a natural sleep remedy like Dormeasan Sleep if you have trouble getting to sleep.
3. Avoid sugar sag
There is a damaging process called glycation, it happens naturally and tends to escalate after the age of 35 and when the skin is potentially already sun damaged (4). It stiffens elastic fibres, giving the skin less stretch. It inhibits antioxidant enzymes that can protect collagen and repair it from damage.
Finally, it can weaken the skin's structure by degrading hardy collagen Type III into more fragile collagen Type I. Sugar drives this degradation in the bloodstream, where it can attach to proteins and make this mouthful - advanced glycation end products (AGEs). These are harmful free radicals that can merrily damage the collagen they come into contact with, resulting in thinner skin.
A little sugar in the diet is tolerated by most people but too much will age the skin, resulting in extra sagging and wrinkles (5). Gradually reduce the sugar in your diet by switching to healthier alternatives, for example, a piece of fruit instead of a couple of biscuits.
Free radicals are naturally occurring unstable atoms in the body that cause oxidative stress and damage to cells, expediting the ageing process. It’s basically the body’s equivalent of rusting…
Antioxidants can protect against and lessen the effects of free radical damage.
4. Eat enough vitamin C
It's an important nutrient and antioxidant for skin health. Vitamin C can sound too good to be true because it can be beneficial for wound repair, immunity, energy production, mood and protection against allergic symptoms. It also is necessary for collagen and elastin production, as well as the health and structure of blood vessels (6).
Humans need to get this nutrient in their diet because they can't make or synthesize it, or even hold onto it for very long (along with fruit bats and guinea pigs...).
Good food sources are berries, red peppers, broccoli and, of course, citrus fruits.
Even potatoes can be a good source, although it is dependent on the time of the year and storage conditions. In general terms, the more coloured fresh fruit and vegetables you can include in your diet, the more anti-ageing and antioxidant chemicals you are getting (7).
5. Try face yoga
Sagging skin isn't only due to skin that has lost elastin and collagen. As we age, we lose muscle tone and fatty deposits under our skin that plump out the skin. One area you may notice is over the eyebrows and on the cheekbones. Once a little volume is lost it can leave the eyebrows a little droopy and the cheeks flatter. I think of it as a slightly melted look.
Specific facial exercises can tone the 57 muscles under the skin, filling out the cheeks and brightening the expression. One study had women doing 30 minutes of exercises a day for 20 weeks and all were happy with the improvements in their appearance (8). It's a bit of effort but it's free. WikiHow has a good beginner's video here.
6. Include phytoestrogen-rich foods in your diet if you are a woman
Phyto-oestrogens are known as plant oestrogens. They are smaller molecules than the human hormone oestrogen, but will attach to oestrogen receptors all over the body with a protective and anti-ageing effect. This is particularly beneficial as women reach their forties and fifties, when natural oestrogen levels drop (9). It is at this stage that the body is readying itself to stop being a potential baby factory/slave to hormones and is looking forward to a lifetime of growth and freedom (10).
Our menopause advisor, Eileen, often talks about the benefits of phytoestrogens, and in her blog 5 oestrogen-rich foods for menopause she recommends foods rich in phytoestrogens and explains how they can help to ease menopause symptoms. Good food sources are soy isoflavones found in fermented soy products (miso, tempeh and tofu), flax seeds (linseeds), spinach and broccoli (11).
7. Protect the skin with a good moisturiser
This will keep the skin barrier strong and give protection from drying environmental factors like wind and air conditioning. It's better for your skin (and the environment) to avoid products that have harsh artificial chemical ingredients and preservatives. Look for natural alternatives that the body will recognise as skin food. A non-greasy formula will reduce signs of ageing and even out the texture of the skin.
Comfrey Cream is a formula developed by A.Vogel to help banish tired or dull-looking skin. Traditionally, the herb comfrey is used to promote soft tissue repair and collagen production. The other ingredients include sunflower, St John's wort and creamy shea butter. I like it because it's not very strongly scented, and it's a rich and silky cream, made from organic ingredients that are reasonably priced.
A.Vogel Comfrey Cream Day & Night cream
- Naturally reduces the appearance of ageing, fine lines & wrinkles
- Brightens tried, dull skin
- Hydrates for a skin plumping effect
- Extract of fresh herbs
"Lovely natural product packaged simply but nicely."
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