Ageing Gracefully: Skin Care in Your 20s, 30s, 40s, and Beyond
How to keep your skin looking great!
Invest some time and care!
Everyone wants to have younger looking skin. Unfortunately, even the most expensive skin care products, with all their claims of ‘reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles’, can’t turn back the years. However, don’t despair! There are steps that we can all take to make sure our skin looks healthy and vibrant and stays wrinkle-free for longer. All we’ve got to do is invest some time and care in looking after it.
It is important to understand the basic function of our skin in order to look after it properly. The skin is our body’s largest organ and comprises three major layers:
The Epidermis: This layer has five sub-layers; the outer layer consists of mainly dead cells which are continuously shed and replaced by cells beneath. The epidermis is also responsible for ‘water proofing’ your skin, protecting your skin from potential invasion of microbes and generate new skin cells which move from the deep layer of the epidermis to the outer layer, where they are eventually shed.
The Dermis: Is the ‘middle layer of the skin and is composed of connective tissue containing collagen and elastin. The dermis is thick in the palms and soles and very thin in the eyelids. It contains blood vessels, nerves, glands, and hair follicles.
The Subcutaneous layer: This layer consists of areolar and adipose tissue. Fibres from the dermis extend down into the subcutaneous layer and anchor the skin to it. The subcutaneous layer, in turn, attaches to underlying tissues and organs.
Ageing of the skin
There are several factors influencing how quickly our skin ages, ranging from genetic factors, your natural skin type, as well as external factors such as exposure to sunlight, environmental factors and whether you smoke or not. In general, pale skins wrinkle faster than darker skins, which are protected by increased amounts of pigment and lipids.
Another vital factor is, of course, our age. Our skin looks and functions very differently at 20 as opposed to when we are 60.
Below you’ll see a skin care plan of how to look after your skin as the decades go by and how to adapt your skin care regime accordingly.
Your 20s is a great time for your skin. You’ve left behind the adolescence acne and your skin has a radiant, youthful glow and the epidermis is well toned.
However, this is not the time to be complacent. In your 20s skin cell renewal drops by up to 28 percent, dead skin cells are not as easily shed and external factors are starting to have a greater impact, leaving your skin slightly duller.
According to dermatologists, 80 percent of all ageing can be directly related to exposure to sunlight. Therefore, it is a good idea to avoid the mid-day sun, or if you have to be out in the heat of the day, then cover up. Penetrating UV rays will start to damage collagen fibres and elastin coils in your skin.
Smoking is one factor you can control and now would be a good time to quit. Smoking inhibits oxygen getting to the outer layer of your skin and has a premature ageing effect. In addition, smoking can cause fine lines around the mouth over the years and this is to be avoided if you want to keep your good looks.
By the time you get to your 30s skin cell turnover has slowed. Environmental damage from pollution, smoke and sunlight are starting to take their toll on the dermis, causing collagen fibres to loosen so that skin starts to loose its tone and develop fine lines and wrinkles. When you smile, subcutaneous fat forms ridges and refuse to bounce back as readily as it once did. Your first wrinkles may start to appear.
By now you should have established a daily skin care regime that involves exfoliating (two or three times a week), cleansing, moisturising and sun protection for your skin. In your 30s, it’s important to maintain a balanced diet consisting of fresh fruits, vegetables, grains and fish, which are high in antioxidants such as Vitamins A, B, C and E. These Vitamins counteract free radicals in your body that help the skin to repair itself, produce the enzymes that stabilise collagen production, and stay moist and healthy. For further protection, try using a day cream, such as one that contains Vitamin E.
Alcohol should only be consumed in moderation as it deprives your skin of vital nutrients and may cause your facial blood vessels to become dilated leading to permanent, red ‘spider veins’ on your cheeks and in men often across the nose.
Maintaining well hydrated tissues by drinking plenty of water each and every day (3 litres a day is not at all excessive) is vital to retain moisture in your skin. In addition, you should ensure that you get enough quality sleep.
In your 40s, collagen fibres decrease in number, stiffen, break apart, and form into a shapeless, matted tangle. Elastic fibres lose some of their elasticity, thicken into clumps, and fray. The result is the skin forms crevices and furrows known as lines and wrinkles. In addition, loss of fat in the subcutaneous layer leaves your skin more fragile, whereas the dermis will continue to lose its elasticity. A rich nourishing night cream should be a vital part of your skin care regime.
During this time the stratum corneum (the outer layer of the epidermis) starts to grow even thicker, as dead skin cells hang around for longer. If you are not already using an exfoliant regularly, now is a good time to get into the habit of exfoliating your skin regularly using a facial scrub – 2-3 times a week is all that’s necessary. You could also use a cream containing Rose oil, Jojoba oil or similar, as these contain natural AHA’s (alpha hydroxy acids) and to help remove dead skin cells.
As deeper wrinkles start to form, you may wish to use a complete skin care system, which systematically helps you to nourish and moisturise your skin on all levels. Choose natural skin care products for your daily skin care regime, as you do not want to introduce unnecessary toxins into your system by using products full of unpronounceable chemicals. Quality natural skin care systems should be matched to your specific skin type.
50s and Above
As we reach our 50s and beyond, the hair and nails grow more slowly. Langerhans cells (involved in the immune response, dwindle in number, thus decreasing the immune responsiveness of older skin. Decreased size of sebaceous (oil) glands leads to dry and broken skin that is more susceptible to infection.
In women, after the menopause, decreased oestrogen levels mean that skin lose its plumpness and tone, and it may be left dry, itchy and more sensitive to allergens.
At this stage in your life it is important to take that extra care of your skin’s health. Mature skin is more fragile, prone to injury and infection and bruises easily. As if this was not bad enough, it also takes longer to heal. Taking care of your skin will reduce the ageing effect; keep it healthier as well as more resistant to injury and infections. Remember, a face that has a lived in look is much more attractive than a Botox face and character is much more beauty.