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Cheat Sheet – Anti-ageing

Anti-ageing.

We’re all so used to this phrase that we don’t even question it. If a product says it is anti-ageing on the box then it must be – right?

Wrong.

If ever a phrase has been overused it is this one. There are few ingredients that are indeed ‘anti-ageing’.
Although to be fair some should be called ‘ageing prevention’ as they don’t reverse signs of ageing – they just slow them down or prevent them from getting worse.

Before we get on to the ingredients a reminder about the 3 worst things you can do for your skin.

Sun, Sugar and Smoking

Sun – get a little – not a lot. Be sensible.

Sugar – probably one of the best (and hardest) things you can do for yourself; your health and your skin is to cut out sugar.
In a nutshell – sugar works to destroy your collagen – think of collagen as scaffolding for your face. Every time you eat/drink sugar it is like taking a piece of the scaffolding away – leading to saggy, baggy and drawn skin.

Smoking – I was once able to tell a client how she blew her smoke out of her mouth (straight up her face from her bottom lip) because of the condition of her skin in the middle panel of her face.
Smoking leaches the oxygen out of your face with every puff. Smokers have grey skin. If you smoke – try and get help and stop – as soon as you can.

The next time you pick up a product that claims to be anti-ageing what you need to look out for is one of these:

  • SPF
    SPF is anti-ageing. Proven, undoubtedly, unequivocally. Although if you’re younger you could argue that it belongs in the ‘prevention’ category. It doesn’t fix what has been done. That is the job of:
  • Vitamin A
    Vitamin A is the only other ingredient along with SPF that the FDA will legally let you claim to be anti-ageing in the USA. Vitamin A reverses the signs of ageing. Rebuilds collagen, repairs sun damage and is an all-round good egg. There are varying degrees of vitamin A – if you have previously used a product with vitamin A in it and reacted badly – it may just be that you haven’t found the right one for you yet.
  • Glycolic/Lactic/Salicylic Acids
    Acids used in the right way can be beneficial to the skin – when applied as topical exfoliants they resurface the epidermis, allowing better product penetration and in the case of some well formulated AHA’s – help rebuild collagen.
    Glycolic and lactic are better for a dryer skin – salicylic for oily/combination. Don’t go too strong straight away and don’t go mad. Less is sometimes more.
  • Vitamins C and E
    These two work well together as vitamin C is traditionally water-based (newer formulas include oil-based vitamin C) and vitamin E is oil based thus protecting both parts of the cell. Both are antioxidants and so in the ‘prevention’ category.
  • Niacinamide
    Newer than the others, this is vitamin B3 by another name. When used on the skin it has shown to stimulate the dermis and in turn increase the fatty content of the cells along with aiding in the retention of water. As it is shown to enhance barrier function of the epidermis it has had good results with acne sufferers by protecting against bacterial attack.

Other ingredients are beneficial to the skin in other ways – but if anti-ageing is the aim – you need some of these in your product – not all at once.

And what age to start using anti-ageing?

SPF – technically from birth, but most companies won’t say to use SPF until your baby is 6 months old. Keep them covered.

Vitamin A – if you have acne you may be prescribed a retinoid by your doctor. Otherwise around 30+ depending on lifestyle – if you’re a sun worshipper start earlier, if you smoke you can also start earlier.

Glycolic/Lactic/Salicylic – again depends on lifestyle and skin type. If you have acne you can use salicylic topically from a fairly early age. The other two can be introduced 25+ as needed.

Vitamins C and E – from the word go. As soon as you start your skincare routine choose something with these in. Good move.

Niacinamide – 25+ ish again depending on lifestyle and skin. Acne? Crack on.

The basic thing to remember with anti-ageing is that our collagen production is linked directly to our ovaries.
When we are at our most fertile our skin is usually at its best. As you near menopause and go through perimenopause you will notice huge changes in your entire system, not just your skin. Hitting menopause has a direct link to your collagen, it’s a bit like someone takes away a little of the scaffolding that supports your facial structure with each passing year.

So, start taking care of your skin when you get your periods – and step it up a notch when you get to 35+ (before if you go into early menopause or have a full hysterectomy).

And when you do start using these products, do not forget your SPF.

And if you smoke? Scrap all that advice and use all of the above – now.