Why does our skin change as we age?
There’s no way to completely avoid the effects of ageing, no matter what anti-wrinkle lotions and potions may claim. Of course, this doesn’t mean there aren’t things you can do to ease the impact of ageing and establishing a good skincare routine is a great first step.
As you age you may notice that your skin changes and this is perfectly normal. It does mean that you may need to reconsider your routine though and focus on new areas. The best way to determine what you need from your new skincare routine is to understand the changes that are taking place in your body that can affect your skin.
Let’s start with the basics – one of the biggest factors that will inevitably affect your skin will be your production of collagen. This key structural protein is essential for firm, healthy-looking skin and, as you age, your production of it unfortunately declines. This can explain why your skin loses its elasticity, appearing thinner and far more sensitive, reacting to substances that previously never caused any bother.
The other major issue to consider is that your skin may also start to struggle to retain moisture. This, combined with a lower production of sebum oil, can contribute to dryness and wrinkles. It’s also worth mentioning that your skin will also become more vulnerable to oxidative stress, a huge cause of premature ageing.
So what can you take away from this information? Quite a bit actually! In a nutshell, your skincare routine should revolve around the following factors:
- Boosting your production of collagen
- Strengthening your skin
- Keeping your skin hydrated
- Supplying your skin with plenty of antioxidants to counter free-radical damage
This can give you an idea of what you want from the skincare products that you use. Now that we have this foundation to work with, I’m going to take a look at what a good daily skincare routine for ageing skin should look like!
Start and end the day by cleansing
Hopefully, this is already an established part of your daily routine – if it isn’t, it definitely should be! Cleansing in the morning helps to remove any oils, bacteria or residues that may have built up on your skin during the night. Cleansing also gives you the chance to start the day with a clean canvas, but it takes on a whole new meaning in the evening.
Cleansing your skin at night ensures that you don’t go to bed with any make-up residues, pollutants or bacteria that have accumulated on your face during the day, helping to prevent any breakouts or flare-ups. It’s important to mention though, to remember that while cleansing can help to remove these residues and impurities, a cleanser is not the same thing as make-up remover.
Ingredients to watch out for: Aloe vera
When it comes to the ingredients that you want your cleanser to contain, aloe vera is a pretty good pick. Aloe vera has been used for thousands of years when it comes to skincare, relieving everything from burns to itching. It has natural antibacterial properties and also has the benefit of containing plenty of potent antioxidant compounds known as polyphenols. There’s also some evidence to suggest that it can help to improve ageing skin and wrinkles too! One study found that the topical application of aloe vera gel was capable of increasing collagen production and elasticity in 30 women over the age of 45 over a 90 day period!1
What to avoid – SLS
SLS, also known as Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, is an extremely harsh and aggravating ingredient that is unfortunately found in many high-street cleansers as well as shampoos, body washes and soaps. It’s well known as a major skin irritant, often provoking reactions from those with drier, more sensitive skin types. It achieves this by stripping away your skin’s natural oils which can make you more vulnerable to irritants and allergens.2
Exfoliate each week
If you’ve previously suffered from oily skin, the chances are that exfoliating is already a fixture in your skincare routine. Typically, the lower levels of your skin create new cells which eventually migrate up to the surface of your skin. The entire process usually takes around 30 days but, as you age, this process of shedding dead skin cells can become more sluggish, which is where exfoliation comes into play!
Exfoliating your skin helps to remove these dead skin cells, preventing them from clogging your pores and reinvigorating your skin. How often you want to exfoliate can depend on the type of skin you have – if your skin is particularly sensitive, then exfoliating on a daily basis probably isn’t such a good idea. I’d still aim to exfoliate on a weekly basis though as exfoliating can help to boost your circulation and your lymphatic system, ensuring that your skin is getting the nutrients it needs!
Ingredients to watch out for: Pomegranate
Pomegranate is a natural anti-inflammatory ingredient that’s now starting to appear in a variety of skincare products and for good reason! Pomegranates are extremely high in vitamin C, an antioxidant which can help to promote your production of collagen and protect your skin from free radical damage. They also contain a secret weapon, punicic acid, which can help your skin to retain collagen and prevent water-loss!3
What to watch out for: Petroleum
Petroleum? As in the same stuff that powers cars? Believe it or not, petroleum can crop up in your beauty products, particularly when it comes to facial scrubs. These products, as well as moisturisers and body creams, often utilises oils to help hydrate your skin. Unfortunately, these oils are often derived from petroleum, which definitely isn’t a substance you’d usually want your skin coming into contact with! These oils can work to block your pores so they are a big risk factor if you suffer from sensitive skin or skin that’s prone to flare-ups and breakouts. Naturally, petroleum isn’t always listed as ‘petroleum.’ Instead it appears under names such as xylene, paraffin and toluene, so be careful!
Use a supercharged serum every day
Serums are an excellent option for ageing skin as they contain concentrated amounts of nutrients and antioxidants, giving ageing skin the type of intense treatment it needs. Many serums typically contain a blend of oils and essential fatty acids which can help your skin to retain more moisture and work to stimulate your skin’s natural repair processes, helping to heal damaged skin cells whilst simultaneously warding off free-radical damage.
Ingredient to watch out for: Rosehip oil
Did you know that rosehip oil was made into syrup and rationed during the Second World War to help bolster children’s immune systems? This just goes to show how incredibly rich in nutrients this oil is, containing high amounts of vitamin C, beta-carotene and vitamin E! It’s also incredibly dense in essential fatty acids, penetrating deep into your skin to encourage your production of collagen. It can also even help to improve signs of scarring and your skin tone, preventing the appearance of age spots and promoting regeneration.
What to avoid – Applying oil to your skin late at night
While it’s a great idea to incorporate nourishing oils like rosehip oil into your daytime routine, I would avoid using oils on your skin at night. As I discuss in my blog, ‘How to get into a rhythm with your skin’, oils can interrupt your regenerative processes at night. That’s why it’s best to opt for a water-based serum at night.
Moisturise as often as you need to
Moisturising is an incredibly important part of any skincare routine. Moisturising gives you the opportunity to hydrate your skin, supplying it with nourishing ingredients that can encourage the production of healthy skin cells. The British Journal of Dermatology has even come forward and stated that those that moisturise their skin properly accumulate wrinkles much slower than those with dry skin!4 Ideally you should be moisturising your skin at least every morning after you cleanse and definitely after exfoliating!
Ingredients to watch out for: Comfrey
If you’ve read my blog ‘The amazing skincare benefits of comfrey’, then you might already be familiar with a few of this plant’s key benefits. A few years ago, researchers from the University of Liverpool discovered that this plant contains a compound known as allatoin, which can help to keep your skin youthful and lessen your susceptibility to wrinkles! It also helps that comfrey also possesses natural anti-inflammatory properties too as well as a high content of vitamin C and other beneficial compounds such as tannins, which can work to protect your skin from bacteria and environmental toxins. If you really want to reap the full benefits of comfrey, I’d definitely advise that you check out our ultra-hydrating Comfrey Cream! Prepared using extracts of organically grown comfrey, this formula helps to nourish dry, tired skin, soothing signs of ageing such as fine lines and wrinkles for a brighter, youthful complexion.
What to avoid: Parabens
Widely considered to be the ‘big bad’ when it comes to skincare ingredients, parabens were first introduced as preservatives in the 1950s, helping to prevent the spread of bacteria in our skincare products and enhancing their longevity. Sounds good, right? Well, unfortunately, research has found that parabens are capable of disrupting your hormone functions, mimicking the female hormone oestrogen.5 The problem is that parabens aren’t always transparently listed on beauty products – often they lurk behind names such as butylparaben, methylparaben and propylparaben so it really pays to be label savvy!