Anti-Aging Secrets from the SknDoctor
"ANTI-AGING ISN'T JUST ABOUT WRINKLES; IT'S ABOUT THE ACTUAL CANVAS. SO THE EARLIER YOU START PLANNING FOR IT, THE BETTER."
Okay, it might sound crazy but taking preventative measures against the signs of ageing from as soon as you're able and competent enough to groom yourself - let’s say from 10 years old - gives you a head start. Although it seems young, simple steps, such using as a basic cleanser and moisturiser, will do wonders from this age, especially approaching the adolescent years and facing the common foe for teenage skin: acne. Failure to treat acne appropriately and in a timely manner can significantly damage the appearance of the skin (e.g. hyper-pigmentation and scaring) - damage that often lasts well into adulthood.
By 25, a serious anti-ageing routine is a MUST! Natural collagen production starts to decline by 1% every year from the age of 25 and a reduction in collagen causes wrinkles, loss of volume and sagging of the skin. While trends like facial yoga will try and convince you otherwise, sadly signs of anti-aging are generally irreversible. No need to panic because there are a number of simple, tried-and-tested principles that can slow down the ageing process.
1. Eat Right. Feel Right. Look Right.
I always say to my clients that you look like what you eat (I'm mainly talking to those who eat McDonald's for breakfast, lunch and dinner or have never seen a courgette in their life!). Excessive artificial sugar and fat-laden snacks promote the destructive action of free radicals (toxic by-products of oxygen breakdown) in the body.
Getting anti-oxidants into your diet can combat this i.e.
- Carotenoids (found in carrots)
- Vitamins A, C, D, E (found in sweet potatoes, bell peppers, soy milk and kale)
- Essential fatty acids (found in olive oil, almonds and salmon)
- Lactobacilli (found in kefir, fermented sauerkraut)
Also, I recommend high-quality food grown supplements for those even with a balanced diet. Of course, the best way to get vitamins and minerals is through the consumption of healthy, naturally colourful foods. However, the cooking process often reduces the vitamin content of food. i.e. when boiling vegetables, much of nutrients actually diffuse into the boiled water, which you then throw away! This is just the iceberg of this topic and I would recommend the book The Disease Delusion by Jeffery S. Bland for further reading.
2. Cleanse, Cleanse & Cleanse Again
There’s no way around this one, you need to ensure that you are removing your makeup before going to bed. Think about it: essentially you have the day on your face - dirty exhaust fumes, sweat, dead skin cells, bacteria and paint-like foundation sitting on top of your pores. This is the perfect storm for breakouts, even if you're not a make-up wearer.
Cleansing should involve more than Simple Wipes (you know who you are!). When choosing the right cleanser, try to pick one that isn’t overly stripping, perfumed or abrasive. I'm currently loving Electrogel Cleanser by LIXIRSKIN (good for dry skin), Milky Jelly Cleanser by Glossier (all skin types) and Clarifying Medicated Foaming Facial Wash by SKIN LAUNDRY (for acne prone, oily skin).
3. Quality Serums
I personally believe that serums rich in anti-oxidants and high-value ingredients such as hyaluronic acid are a must. Essentially, it comes down to what your skin goals are? Do you want 'okay' skin or 'great' skin? An anti-oxidant like Vitamin C works at a cellular level to minimise the ageing process caused by free radicals.
Ideally, find a serum that has high quantities of anti-oxidants - though they tend to come at a price, due to the quality and high percentage of the active ingredient. Cheaper serums are often filled with 'filler' ingredients that help to bulk the product or enhance the feel of the product.
With that being said, if you have a tighter budget consider these by The Ordinary:
4. Vitamin A is Bae.
Vitamin A, when applied topically, is known as Retinol. Retinol is my holy-grail product. Why? Because it makes me look plump, glowy and it even prevents the formation of wrinkles. Importantly, it improves the skin at a deep structural level, as opposed to just sitting on the top layer of the skin and not doing very much (like many cosmetic products out there). Retinol works by increasing turnover of skin cells, promoting the presence of collagen and hyaluronic acid. Start slowly with retinol-containing products to minimise its adverse effects, i.e. peeling and redness.
5. Be Gentle with Your Skin
Always apply products unto your face in an upward motion. Practically, this can be tricky and a bit of a faff, so I do a mixture of upward and downward motions when applying a product to my face. I like to be firm with my face, but not aggressive, as that can cause skin irritation. If you have more thin or sensitive skin, use a gentle hand.
6. SPF is Your Friend
Contrary to popular belief, the sun isn't your BFF. Sun damage is the top cause of aged skin. Minimising excessive sun exposure can knock at least a few years off your real skin age. More importantly, UV rays are present all year round, so whether you’re a porcelain babe, a chocolate sister or anything in-between, it's just as necessary to wear SPF even in colder, gloomy months.
Darker skin ladies living in sun-deprived places like London should replace your likely sub-optimal vitamin D levels with high dose supplements. Despite having a decent diet, I had severely low vitamin D levels in University - which explained why I was so tired all the time! If you're deficient, your GP can prescribe you high-strength vitamin D that you can't buy over the counter.
7. Regular Facials
People don’t do this enough but frequent contact with a good skin therapist or dermatologist acts as a monthly skin MOT. Be sure to discuss your skin concerns and appropriate solutions. You might even consider getting a light chemical peel too, such as a lactic acid peel (also known as a chemical exfoliant). They essentially get rid of the top dead layer of skin, are more effective and non-abrasive. A chemical peel every month or every 3 months (depending on your skin sensitivity) will help to keep your skin in check by unclogging/reducing the appearance of large pores and minimising wrinkles.
ONE FINAL NOTE...
Although I can give arbitrary advice, it’s really about a developing an understanding of YOUR skin and what works for it, which comes from experimentation with professional recommendations. Interested in further non-surgical treatment options? Visit SKNDOCTOR for further advice on things like ‘baby botox’ (small amounts of botox) or skinboosters (hyaluronic acid fillers). I’m always around to help.