How will you age?

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How will you age?

It’s one of our most precious organs, yet it’s exposed to a constant onslaught of harsh elements, every minute of every day. That’s why our skin needs help and protection. For most of us, the damage has already been done, but help is at hand and our skin can still be saved – providing you’re armed with the right knowledge and products…

Have you ever noticed how we Australians tend to look older than our European counterparts? Younger generations are lucky enough to be well educated in the dangers of sun damage, and would never leave the house without sun protection, but sadly the majority of Australians over twenty, will have skin older than its biological age due to being over-exposed early in life.

Chronic sun exposure is responsible for over 90% of the visible signs of ageing in Australians. And this premature skin ageing can be seen in many forms such as pigmentation, fine lines, freckles, spots, sensitive areas, broken capillaries and uneven skin tone. Just have a look at the skin on the inside area of your forearm to see how it would look if it hadn’t been exposed to the sun.

But UV light isn’t the only factor affecting how your skin will age. Genetic characteristics play a large part plus smoking, gravity, excessive exercise and dieting can all influence our skin in a major way. 

Prevention

While we can’t all be blessed with perfect genes, we can do something about the other contributing factors associated with premature skin ageing. It should go without saying, don’t smoke. Make sure you have a healthy diet and lifestyle and most importantly, protect yourself from the sun.

Making sun protection part of your daily skin care regimen will give your skin a chance to repair some, but not all of the damage.

Emma Hobson, Education Manager (Asia, Australia & New Zealand) of The International Dermal Institute says the latest buzz in sun protection is ‘daylight protection’.

“Recent research shows the effects of free radical damage from rays emitted during daylight having an enormous negative impact on skin ageing and health. This has evolved into daylight protection.”

Hobson says manufacturers have responded to this research by releasing sun protection formulated with powerful antioxidants. These are used to counteract the negative photoageing effects of free radicals from daylight on the skin.

Try: Dermalogica Daylight Defense System Extra Rich Faceblock SPF30, a nourishing moisturiser and superior sunscreen in one formula that stimulates collagen production for improved skin tone, using evening primrose and other plant oils to replenish, increase and maintain the skin’s natural defense barrier. Innovative UV smart booster technology is used to store protective vitamins until they are needed, activating them only upon contact with UV rays.

Renew

There’s a large range of lotions and potions that can help with signs of skin ageing. Obviously wearing a day cream with sun protection is paramount, but there are also serums and creams that can help with pigmentation, uneven skin tone, brightening and softening fine lines.

Belinda Welsh, a dermatologist from The Australasian College of Dermatologists, has a few tips and recommendations on what to look for when choosing a skincare product.

Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs)

These chemicals improve skin luminosity and texture while helping with pigmentation. They mainly act on the epidermis and have been shown to increase collagen production over time but not to the same degree as retinoic acid.

Antioxidants, vitamins (especially C and E) and coenzyme Q10 There is some evidence these products scavenge free radicals, helping to prevent sun damage, improving skin texture and fine lines.

Retinoic acid

Retinoic acid (also known as retin-A is the oxidized form of vitamin A). Used over time, it can improve skin smoothness, reduce fine wrinkles, remodel collagen and elastin in the dermis and thicken the epidermis. It can also even out some types of pigmentation. It is only available on prescription and can be irritating for sensitive skin. Diluting it with moisturiser when applying at night only may help.

Niacinamide or Vitamin B3

There is considerable interest in the ability of this vitamin to protect the skin’s immune system from damage by UV rays. It can also help reduce pigmentation and improve the skin’s barrier function in those with sensitive skin. 

The future

The Australian College of Dermatologists says skin rejuvenation is an area attracting considerable ongoing interest. The cosmetic industry, dermatologists and the pharmaceutical industry are all actively researching new treatments and approaches. More scientific studies are required to help establish which treatments are most effective and which therapies are a waste of money and effort.

– Claudia DeBono

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