The 10 commandments for protecting your skin

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We’re the generation that grew up with the myth that a suntan makes us look healthier, but we now know so much more about those dangerous rays! As we age there’s more than the sun’s rays working against us. Gravity takes its toll. Skin becomes thinner, less elastic, more sensitive and delicate, showing pigmentation variations and ‘laughter lines’!

Reaching our fifties, those fine lines are gradually replaced by deeper wrinkles and sun damage becomes more obvious. Thanks to menopause, this is the decade when  skin changes the most, with oestrogen levels and water levels in skin cells subsiding.

This all sounds rather harsh. Add to this, all that life throws at us during this phase and skin gets exhausted. But there’s plenty we can do to keep skin tip-top as we age. Skin is an organ, so let’s treat it kindly!

We’ve put together a few tips to help maintain a healthy complexion.

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Hydration

This is critical and we’re not just talking about drinking lots of water, (check-out or blog Good Hydration). It's time to start, if you don’t do it already, a whole new moisturising regime!

As oil production in skin reduces in our forties, we need to moisturise regularly to replace natural oils and protect the skin’s lipid barrier. In our 50s, oestrogen and hyaluronic acid (a water soluble compound which helps draw moisture into our skin) levels, drop. Some moisturisers carry eye-wateringly high prices, so for ageing, drier skin, look for products containing any or several of the following agents:

  • hyaluronic acid
  • glycerine; a moisturising agent
  • aloe barbadensis extract, an emollient and skin conditioner
  • vitamins B, C and E that may help protect and repair your skin from free radicals

If you’ve  developed rosacea,  choose a natural, fragrance-free moisturiser.

Serums

Serums are much thinner and lighter than moisturisers and serve a variety of purposes, from ‘anti-ageing’, skin brightening, and acne prevention serums.

Serums contain ingredients that claim to penetrate more deeply into your skin. They’re not meant to replace moisturiser but could boost their hydrating effects. Apply after cleansing and before moisturiser and sunscreen.

Damage limitation

Exposure to the sun can do much more damage to our skin than just causing painful sunburn. Even a mild sunburn that causes a small amount of redness may destroy the top layer of skin. Worth remembering if, like us, you occasionally get a little lazy about protecting skin, to: 

  • Cover up outdoors when the sun’s rays are at their strongest, between 10 and 4.
  • Wear sunscreen and don’t skimp, applying only a thin coating reduces  effectiveness by 50%.
  •  Choose waterproof sunscreen. Even products claiming to give all-day protection, should be re-applied every 2 hours, especially if you’ve been sqimming or suffer with hot flushes and sweating.
  • Wear a hat f you want to keep ahead, it’s the best facial protection there is.

Sunscreen

Research shows the sun’s ultraviolet light, accelerates skin ageing. It’s never too late to start wearing protective moisturising face products with a minimum SPF of 15 and ideally, loaded with antioxidants. Ensure that you spread it down your neckline for maximum protection.

We get lovely Vitamin D, essential for bones, teeth and muscles, from exposure to sunlight. Spending an hour in the midday sun whilst wearing SPF 15 should be enough top-up levels nicely. If you go sunscreen-free, it only takes around 10 minutes, give-or-take, depending on the colour of your skin, to get enough Vitamin D.

Photosensitivity

Certain drugs, including Tetracycline, diuretics and even herbal remedies such as St. John’s Wort, cause sun-sensitivity and increase your risk of sunburn. Check with your doctor or pharmacist if you are taking any of these products.

Hands on protection

To prevent sun spots, apply sunscreen to your hands or use a hand cream with UV protection every day. Products containing glycolic acid or antioxidants may help to repair sun damage.

Gently does it 

It’s thought that oestrogen helps suppress skin inflammation so as levels drop, your skin may become more sensitive.

  • Swap face wash for a non-foaming cleanser. Use a gentler milky, or creamy formulation, massage into your skin gently with your fingertips for a minute and rinse with tepid water. Ideally, you want your face to feel cleansed and clean, but not ‘squeaky clean’.
  • Go for mild, unscented alcohol-free toners and products to stop skin feeling dry and irritated.

Eye protection

The skin around the eyes is the thinnest and most delicate skin on our body and often shows the first signs of ageing with fine lines, wrinkles, dark circles and puffy eyes appearing.

Eye serums and eye moisturisers may minimise damage, but be gentle when applying. To avoid dragging skin further, dab product gently on the brow bone and under the eye socket with your ring finger. 

Wearing sunglasses will help protect this area against sun damage.

Collagen

Collagen, the protein responsible for keeping our skin smooth, firm and ‘youthful’ starts to decline from around the age of 25 but hitting perimenopause, disappearing-oestrogen seals the deal. Whilst there are many collagen products with ‘youth-preserving’ ingredients on the market, there’s no conclusive studies to prove that they really work.

Eating a healthy, balanced diet is the best way to produce collagen naturally. Ramp up vitamin C, (eg. citrus fruits and red peppers) and vitamin E, (eg. almonds, seeds and oily fish) intake.

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Smoke-free zone

Chemicals in tobacco smoke cause damage to the collagen and elastin in our skin. Nicotine causes the blood vessels to narrow in outer skin layers, resulting in a dehydrated complexion and deeper wrinkles.

 

We’ve given you the low-down on skin-care but if you exercise your body to keep fit and healthy, why not exercise your face also? Try a little face yogato firm-up your facial muscles.