Are you speeding up your skin’s expiry date without realising it?
No-one tells you this when you’re young (actually, that’s not true – you probably weren’t listening), but when you get to a certain age, your body continues to grow older, while your inner self stays stuck somewhere between the 30 and 40 mark. You begin to feel like a young person trapped inside an ageing body. It always comes as a surprise, and it’s never a pleasant one. While technically it’s impossible to actually slow down the ageing process (every cell in your body, including your skin, has an expiry date coded into the DNA), there’s a lot you can do to prevent it from speeding up! It’s no secret that lifestyle and environmental factors can have a huge impact on how fast you age. Let’s take a look at the major culprits.
High blood sugar level
Sufferers tend to have higher skin damage, and skin that is more prone to early signs of ageing. When you eat carbohydrates of any kind, from adding sugar to your tea to enjoying a bowl of pasta, they are ultimately broken down into glucose, the main fuel source for your body. The problem comes in when there’s too much of it in your body. This excess glucose is bad news for proteins, particularly collagen, the substance that gives skin its resilience and strength.
A sugary diet can also cause dull skin, dark circles under the eyes, a loss of tone, blotchiness, puffiness and an increase in lines and wrinkles. It is therefore essential to include natural fats found in nuts, seeds and oily fish as well as a ready supply of colourful veg and fruit in your diet. An antioxidant supplement containing vitamins A, C, E, zinc and selenium, as well as an essential fatty acid supplement like linseed, fish or evening primrose oil is also often recommended.
The Dark Side of the Sun
If you didn’t already know (i.e. you have been living on the moon), listen up: the sun is not your skin’s BFF. If you want to prevent further damage, avoid direct sunlight as far as possible between 11am and 3pm. Over time, UV damage destroys the underlying collagen in skin. It’s a myth that darker skins are immune to sun damage. Not only can dark complexions succumb to the signs of photo-ageing such as wrinkles and a change in texture and sagging, they can also end up with uneven pigmentation. Make sure your skin is adequately protected from the sun by using a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF30.
Of all the hormones, perhaps the most noticeable effects on the skin come from declining oestrogen levels around menopause. This group of hormones keeps the skin soft, hydrated and plump. They also function in a similar way to antioxidants by protecting the skin from sun damage, and play a role in the formation of new cells. As levels naturally taper off, women notice a distinct thinning, loss of elasticity, dryness and increase in sensitivity and fragility of the skin.