Number 1: Protect your skin from the sun every day. Whether spending a day at the beach on holiday or out and about in London running errands, sun protection is essential. Choose a broad spectrum (UVA/ UVB) sun protection moisturiser with SPF 30 or higher and use it under your make-up every single day without fail, 365 days per year, come rain or come shine. There are lots of really nice, cosmetically acceptable sunscreens available these days that don’t feel sticky or leave white marks. I tend to use a tinted one which doubles as a primer or base layer for my make-up. If you have acne prone skin, remember to ensure that the product is labelled non-comedogenic.
Number 2: Don’t sunbathe to get a tan, use self-tanner instead. Not only does tanning increase your risk of skin cancer, it also prematurely ages your skin. The same goes for sunbeds and other indoor tanning devices. Just don’t do it. Ever. Enjoy time outdoors when the weather is good, but do it sensibly. To avoid ending up with crepey skin and brown spots, apply sunscreen to your face and any other exposed skin 15 minutes before going outside otherwise your neck, chest and hands will give the game away. Accessorise with a hat to keep the sun off your face. Cover up or reapply sunscreen after swimming, sweating or towelling yourself. If you’re new to the party, pale is in. If you can’t get used to it, fake it.
Number 3: If you smoke, stop. We all know that it increases your risk of heart disease and cancer, limits your exercise capacity and gives you bad breath. If all of these aren’t off-putting enough, it also rapidly accelerates skin ageing causing wrinkles and a dull, sallow complexion. Repeated pursing of the lips over time in order to drag on a cigarette also causes vertical furrows to form around the lips. These are sometimes unflatteringly referred to as “barcode lines” for obvious reasons and often necessitate Botox, filler, peels or laser resurfacing (and sometimes a combination of these) to reduce them. Extra tip for free…drinking through a straw or straight out of a bottle also forces you to purse your lips in order to form a seal so carries the same risk of forming creases around the mouth if you do it frequently over time. Pour your drink into a glass to avoid this. And ditch the cigarettes! Do your future self a favour, aim for brighter skin and a healthier body and go get yourself some fresh air.
Number 4: Avoid repetitive facial expressions. One of the first signs of skin ageing is the appearance of fine lines. These are usually first spotted around the corners of the eyes (AKA crow’s feet) and may be noticed as early as our twenties. So what causes these? When you smile, laugh, frown or squint, you contract your facial muscles. If you repeatedly contract the same muscles over and over again for many years, the lines produced by facial expression stay put when you return to your resting face. Over time, they become deeper and more pronounced. Wearing glasses for reading and sunglasses in brighter weather can help reduce the lines caused by squinting. What else? Well…don’t stop smiling or laughing for goodness sake, but if you’re bothered by the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, get your skincare routine right and think about wrinkle relaxing procedures to stop those subtle crinkles becoming deep creases!
Number 5: Drink less alcohol. Or at the very least stick to recommended limits of 21 units per week for men and 14 units per week for women. Alcohol significantly dehydrates the skin resulting in a coarse texture, dull skin tone and dark sunken eyes.
Number 6: Exercise most days of the week. Moderate exercise can improve circulation and boost the immune system. This, in turn, may give the skin a more healthy, luminous appearance.
Number 7: Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet. Sorry to sound like the fun police again, but there a few studies suggesting that getting plenty of fresh fruit and veg in your diet helps prevent damage that leads to premature skin ageing. This may be due to the presence of antioxidants in these foods. Antioxidants block or neutralise collagen-damaging free radicals generated by pollution, cigarette smoke, our own metabolic processes and various other nasties in the environment. Findings from research studies also suggest that a diet containing lots of sugar or other refined carbohydrates can accelerate ageing. So, eat your greens…and your reds, blues, oranges and yellows!
Number 8: Wash your face twice a day and after sweating heavily. Sweat irritates the skin, so you should try to cleanse as soon as possible after exercise. If you can’t get to a sink, pop a small bottle of micellar water into your gym bag or backpack and wipe your face with moistened cotton pads as a halfway house till you get home. Always cleanse gently. Scrubbing your skin clean can cause irritation and irritating your skin accelerates skin ageing. Gentle washing helps to remove pollution, makeup, and other substances without irritation. Happy to share some of my current favourites…just ask!
Number 9: Thou shalt moisturise. The skincare aisle is crowded. Whilst there are a few things that you can totally ignore, there are also some that you shouldn’t and moisturiser is one of them. The good news is that you don’t need to spend a fortune to find a good moisturiser. So how do you pick? An effective moisturiser contains two types of hydrating ingredients: a humectant (to draw water into the skin) and an emollient (to prevent water loss). Common humectants are glycerin, lactic acid and hyaluronic acid. Apply your moisturiser on top of your retinoid at night (more about retinoids and retinol in my final commandment about key active skincare ingredients). If you’re prone to greasy skin or breakouts, pick a non-comedogenic (non pore-blocking) or oil-free formulation wherever possible. In the morning, apply your sun protection moisturiser after cleansing and antioxidant serum. Hey presto…soft, smooth, supple skin.
Number 10: Incorporate a retinoid into your skincare routine. Apart from daily sun protection and an antioxidant serum, creams or lotions that contain a retinoid are your best shot at making your skin look younger. There is a ton of research proving that this vitamin A derivative really can undo wrinkles and discolouration caused by sun damage. Retinoids are also great for tightening pores, reducing breakouts and improving scarring so there’s nothing not to like! When choosing a product, look for the words “retinol” or “retinaldehyde” in the ingredients list (the higher up the list the words appear, the better). A Dermatologist can prescribe a stronger retinoid cream like Retin-A, but retinol is a good place to begin if you’re starting from scratch. A word of warning first though….retinoids can be irritating initially, so ramp up slowly until you can tolerate using your product every night. Don’t forget to treat your neck and décolleté as well. Remember that your skin can be more sensitive in these areas so use it more sparingly at these sites and not necessarily nightly. Ta da…you’re looking younger already!
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