Slowing down the years
Nashauna Drummond, Lifestyle Coordinator
For centuries, women have searched for the elusive fountain of youth. Cosmetic companies may have found it and put it into bottles with their pro-ducts that promise to return your skin's youthful glow.
However, don't wait until the wrinkles and age spots begin appearing before you start taking steps to preserve your skin. According to dermatologist Dr Dian Robinson, "From age seven, a moisturiser with a broad spectrum sunscreen should be worn daily on the face, neck and arms."
She explains that the ageing process is dependent on intrinsic (genetics) and extrinsic (environmental) factors.
Intrinsic factors depend on race and genetic make-up. For example, caucasian skin loses collagen at an earlier age than negro skin. Collagen is a protein that exist under the skin that 'supports' it. As we age, its production diminishes and the skin begins to 'droop' forming wrinkles.
According to Dr Robinson, the most important extrinsic factor is the ultraviolet rays from the sun. "The sun's rays speed up the ageing process by increasing collagen and elastin breakdown, dehydrating the skin and causing hyperpigmentation (discoloration)." Other extrinsic factors include smoking, drinking alcohol in excess, and some systemic illnesses.
Caring for your skin
In a tropical country such as Jamaica that has sunlight for 10 or more hours each day, daily sun protection is needed to slow the ageing process.
Gentle cleansing, toning, moisturising and sun protection are key. Avoiding smoking (nicotine produces free radicals in the skin increasing lines and wrinkles) and excessive alcohol intake.
Drink lots of water, see a dermatologist to treat any skin conditions such as eczema, acne, melasma which all lead to discoloration, spots and scars which make the face look aged.
Take antioxidants orally - vitamins A, C and E which help to rid the skin of free radicals.
With the myriad of anti-ageing products currently available, trying to figure out the ones that are best for you and the ones that do work can be a task.
Dr Robinson notes that the product you choose will depend on; skin type, skin sensitivity, and presence of eczema.
However, she notes; "There are no best products. For anti-ageing purposes, the active ingredient in the product is important."
The main active anti-ageing chemicals are: vitamins C and E which hydrate and stimulate collagen rebuilding.
Alpha hydroxy (glycolic and lactic acid) - provides exfoliation, fading of dark spots and hydrates.
Retinol - a natural form of vitamin A - exfoliates, increases cellular turnover and stimulates collagen synthesis.
She notes that these chemicals (ingredients) have been proven to be effective in delaying the ageing process, if used early and for a prolonged period. However, a sunblock must be worn at all times with products containing these ingredients. Persons with sensitive skin may not be able to use some of these products and so should contact their dermatologists.
While it is important to take care of your skin very early to delay the ageing process, the 30s is a fair time to start using anti-ageing products.