Facial ageing is inevitable as you grow older but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try your best to delay or prevent it as far as possible. Your skin ages according to your lifestyle choices as well as your skin type and genetic factors. You can delay or accelerate the effects of ageing by positive lifestyle choices and some treatments. With all the creams and lotions available, it is difficult to know what really works, and it is not always the most expensive products that are the most effective.
The skin is an amazing organ that weighs about five kilograms and covers an area of about two square meters – we have to be careful not to take it for granted. It needs to be looked after and protected.
(Please note that some of the links in this post are affiliate links. If you buy through my links you do not pay more and I receive a small commission. I have not tried all of these products personally but my research has been thorough and the products I recommend contain ingredients that have proved to be most effective.)
About your skin type
As the largest organ of the body, the skin is vital in maintaining health. It is essentially made up of three different layers: the epidermis (outer layer), the dermis (middle layer) and the subcutaneous layer (inner layer). Your skin helps to protect the internal systems of your body, acting as a barrier against harmful external factors and keeping vital substances within your body. It regulates body temperature, helps you to sense relevant information about your environment and also plays a role in your appearance. The epidermis is home to the pigment cells which produce melanin. The darker the skin, the more efficient the melanin that is produced. The type of skin you are born with influences how you are affected by exposure to the sun.
Type 1: People with this skin type burn very easily and do not tan. They are most likely to have very light blond hair or red hair and freckles.
Type 2: Skin in this range always burns but may tan lightly. It is fair and usually goes with blue eyes and blond or light brown hair.
Type 3: This type is usually a light olive colour and goes with green or brown eyes and dark hair. The skin may burn if overexposed but it will develop a tan.
Type 4: This skin is darker olive, usually with brown eyes and dark hair. The skin can burn slightly but always tans deeply and quickly.
Type 5: This type of skin is brown and comes with brown eyes and dark hair. It rarely burns and tans easily.
Type 6: This is a very dark skin type with brown eyes and dark hair. The skin very rarely burns and tans deeply.
If you are still not sure about your skin type, you can do a test to find out. The main reason for premature skin ageing is sun damage. Although everyone is at risk for damage as a result of excessive sun exposure, people with skin types I and II are at the highest risk and are most susceptible to photoaging (ageing from repeated exposure to sunlight).
Some ageing skin problems
Everybody has their own skin type which ages and wrinkles differently but there are some signs of ageing that are common to all. The epidermis gets thinner as you age and sheds cells more slowly. The skin gets drier as the stratum corneum isn’t as good at holding on to water as it was before and the sebaceous glands are less productive. In the dermis, blood flow is reduced and fragmentation of collagen and fewer elastin fibers causes wrinkles. Apart from chronological ageing, external factors such as exposure to sun also plays a large part.
Spider veins and thread veins
Enlarged blood vessels on the surface of the skin look like little red lines, red marks, or appear as a central spot with a web-like surround. They can be inherited genetically, appear as a response to drinking too much alcohol or even occur from frequent exposure to severe weather. People with lighter skin types are more susceptible to spider veins.
Precancerous spots (solar keratoses)
Pre-cancerous spots may develop on the face, neck, chest, forearms and hands. These spots are flat, red, or sometimes brown, and slightly scaly. They are not dangerous but if you have them, you are more at risk of skin cancer and should be checked regularly. Lighter skin types are more prone to developing pre-cancerous spots.
Upper and lower facial lines
Forehead lines can make you look anxious or angry. The muscles that produce deep vertical lines also pull down your eyebrows, adding to an older appearance. Lower facial lines are a result of the loss of the natural support filling of the skin, comprising collagen, fat and muscle tissues. This happens when some of the anchoring fat fibers becomes detached with age.
If your forehead lines are very deep, then not even the best wrinkle cream may affect their appearance and you may have to consider cosmetic options instead, like Botox. However, anti-wrinkle creams and serums have come a long way over the past few years and some over-the-counter creams can definitely help to smooth out facial wrinkles. The longer you wait, the more difficult it becomes to deal with them.
An ageing neck
An ageing neck can play a big part in making a person look much older. The neck is easily damaged by exposure to the sun as the skin is thinner than it is on parts of the face and it does not have as effective a support structure. As fat is lost from the neck skin, insightly bands of skin and muscle appear (turkey neck).
Crow’s feet are one of the most common signs of ageing eyes. The lines around the eyes are caused by smiling, sunlight, ageing and smoking. Bags can develop under the eyes too as the ligaments in the eyes become weaker, creating bulging fat under the eyes. Drooping skin in the upper eyelids is another sign of ageing.
These appear as flat, brown marks on the hands, face and other areas of sun-exposed skin.
Ingredients the ageing skin needs
Contrary to what you may have been lead to believe, there is no miracle ingredient for your skin. A great variety of products can be found containing just about anything from cavier to marine algae, making exaggerated claims and costing a fortune. While they may not harm you, their benefits do not justify their costs. Read here about some of the myths concerning the active ingredients of creams.
However, there are certain ingredients that studies have proved work best to help ageing skin. Cosmeceuticals is the name given to cosmetics that contain ingredients like glycolic acid, retinol and vitamin c that show real evidence of helping with skin rejuvenation.
Vitamin and vitamin-like ingredients
VITAMIN A is essential for the maintenance of normal human skin and is often incorporated into anti-ageing creams.
RETINOL is a derivative of vitamin A and a milder version of retinoids which are available on prescription. Retinol gets rid of dead skin cells, and stimulates cellular repair. It is an anti-aging ingredient that offers great results. However, it does cause skin to become more sensitive to UV radiation.
Recommended Product: Skin Medica Retinol Complex 0.25
VITAMIN C has been shown to increase collagen production, reduce skin discoloration, enhance repair and reduce inflammation. Correctly formulated Vitamin C creams are effective in dealing with free radicals and also reducing some of the immediate effects of sunlight.
A problem with topical vitamin C preparations is that they are not that stable. When vitamin C is exposed to the air it oxidises and becomes ineffective. The vitamin C has to be able to penetrate the skin as an active substance so it is important to look for the words ‘stabilised vitamin C’ on product labels.
Recommended Product: Skinceuticals A.g.e. Interrupter Mature Skin Treatment, 1.7-Ounce
(SkinCeuticals, developed by a dermatologist, contains a 10% concentration of ascorbic acid (stable Vitamin C.)
VITAMIN E is also known as tocopherol or tocopherol acetate. Vitamin E works in several different ways to protect cell membranes from damage and prevents collagen from being destroyed. It also works well together with vitamin C.
Recommended Product: BEST VITAMIN C Serum for Face
2 fl. oz – 20% organic Vit C + E + Hyaluronic Acid – Professional Facial Skin Care Formula that helps Repair Sun Damage and Fade Age Spots – Radha Beauty (this product is one of the best sellers on Amazon – it’s effective and inexpensive).
PANTHENOL (Vitamin B5) It is very useful in attracting moisture into the skin. It smooths the surface of the skin and has been shown to help in wound healing.
COENZYME Q10 (ubiquinone) is a vitamin-like, fat-soluble substance present in all human cells. It is responsible for cell protection and production of the body’s energy and is believed to have excellent antioxidant properties. Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) appears to reduce UV damage and stimulate healthy collagen production. There is also research showing that sun exposure depletes the presence of CoQ10 in the skin so it makes sense to replenish it.
NIACINAMIDE is a vitamin B3 derivative that has been shown to have some important actions on the skin. One of these is that it helps to reduce redness and inflammation. This vitamin suppresses melanin from reaching the surface of the skin as well as protecting the skin from UV damage. When applied topically, niacinamide helps to prevent skin from losing water content, boosts production of fatty acids and stimulates microcirculation in the dermis. It is also proving helpful with skin discoloration.
Recommended Product: Paula’s Choice Resist Skin Firming Line Minimizer with Niacinamide
Superoxide Dismutase (SOD)
This is the body’s most powerful natural antioxidant enzyme. It protects the body against oxidative damage and as we get older, like other protective compounds that occur naturally in the body, SOD decreases. A study published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry confirms that SOD protects collagen from oxidative stress and fragmentation.
Recommended Product: SOD Cream, Superoxide Dismutase (25,000 PIU per oz)
This product contains 1% Green Tea, DI Water, Vitamin A, Superoxide Dismutase (25,000 PIU per oz), Vitamin E, Aloe Vera Fillet Juice, Bees Wax, Coconut Oil, Olive Oil, Almond Oil, Cetyl Alcohol, Glyceryl Stearate, TEA, Optiphen Plus (non-paraben preservative). It helps reduce facial wrinkles and scar tissue. It helps protect against harmful UV rays and lightens dark skin spots.
A botanical is a natural cream containing natural plant extracts and botanical ingredients. Pomegranate extract, grapefruit extract, aloe vera, calendula and liquorice extract all fall into this category. Botanical extracts need to remain on your skin to work and most of them are water soluble, so they are watered down when you wash your face. In creams, toners and serums, they do work effectively.
Flavenoids such as green tea extract and ginkgo biloba have been shown to have anti-free radical, anti-damaging properties in cell culture systems and animal studies. They reduce inflammation, build collagen, and reduce cell damage by impeding the harmful effects of sun exposure.
Echinacea is derived from flowers originating in North America and it is a common botanical ingredient, believed to act as an anti-inflammatory and moisturiser, reducing skin irritation.
Aloe vera has been used for many years in creams and gels. Studies have confirmed that it can help to reduce inflammation and help with wound healing. It needs to be present at a concentration of 10% or it is unlikely to be effective. It has still not proved to have anti-ageing benefits but it is useful for its anti-inflammatory properties and a helpful ingredient in general skin maintenance.
Recommended Product: John Masters Organics Pomegranite Facial Nourishing Oil
This product is a blend of 12 organic plant and essential oils that nourish the skin. It can be used alone or added to any moisturizer for extra hydration. It works well for facial massages and can be used on the hands and feet too.
One of the ways moisturisers work is by entering the upper outer layers of the stratum corneum and preventing increased water loss. An example of this is Vaseline. Another way moisturisers can work is by actually attracting water into the stratum corneum to hydrate the skin (humectants). Examples of this are glycerine and sodium hyaluronate, both of which are excellent moisturising ingredients.
Fruit Acids (AHAs)
Fruit acids (or alpha-hydroxy acids) include glycolic acid, lactic acid, citric acid, mandelic acid and tartaric acid. They have been known since ancient times to be beneficial in improving the smoothness and feel of the skin. The ancient Egyptians would apply grapeseed remains to their skin to make it smooth and glowing. Today, the most commonly used fruit acid is glycolic acid. Glycolic acid containing lotions and creams help to promote a smoother, healthier-looking skin. Fruit acids work as exfoliants, helping dead cells to slough away thus enabling moisturisers to work more effectively. There is research showing that using a well-formulated AHA product can increase collagen production. AHAs in skin-care products are effective in concentrations ranging from 5% to 15%. Remember that they do remove part of the skin’s natural barrier so that anything else you put on your skin can penetrate more deeply and cause irritation and ultraviolet rays may be able to reach further into the skin.
Recommended Product: Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Framboos Glycolic Night Serum
This product is suitable for all skin types. It is is a refreshing, hydrating gel and glycolic, lactic, tartaric, citric and salicylic acids are blended with a Raspberry Extract. It also contains Horse Chestnut, Bearberry and White Tea. It unbonds and gently lifts dead cells, restoring an even tone to the skin. It helps to diminish some of the signs of ageing such as fine lines and wrinkles. It manages to exfoliate effectively without some of the harsh side effects experienced with other exfoliating products.
Lipids are fats that form a natural part of the skin’s barrier. Some moisturisers contain a mixture of these skin barrier lipids or chemical variants of them, sometimes known as ceramides. Ceramides make up a good 20% of the intercellular matrix of the skin, holding cells together and helping to protect and maintain its appearance. When the skin’s “matrix” is impaired, these ceramides decrease, leaving the skin vulnerable.
Recommended Product: Neutrogena Healthy Defence moisturiser
This product is inexpensive and contains a broad spectrum SPF 30 sunscreen. It is hyperallergenic, non-irritating, fragrance-free and it won’t clog pores. It contains vitamin E and Pro-Vitamin B5 in its formula. This helps to The Vitamin E and Pro-Vitamin B5 formula helps quench free radicals. It is non-greasy and lightweight, easily absorbed and keeps the skin hydrated all day.
The frequency of sunlight-induced skin ageing and skin cancers has been in the increase in most parts of the world. In particular, increasing numbers of melanoma skin cancer have been well documented in the last ten years. It is essential to protect your skin as much as possible from the harmful effects of sunlight. There is no such thing as a safe suntan. Sunlight or UVA-induced tans are a sign that the skin has been damaged; they increase skin ageing, sunspots and skin cancer risks.
The future for skin rejuvenation looks encouraging. Advances in technology and in research mean that progress is being made in finding options that really do help keep skin looking younger and healthier for longer. Rejuvenating treatments and techniques are progressing and even the formulations used in anti-ageing cosmetics are improving all the time.