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Ageing gracefully

We all age, but how can we keep our skin and hair looking as good as possible right through life? Rude Health asks the beauty experts

As we get older our bodies naturally produce less collagen,” says Niamh Larkin, beauty specialist at Evergreen in Mainguard St, Galway. “This has a direct result on our skin’s elasticity. When our skin loses elasticity, it begins to sag, and fine lines and wrinkles start to form.”

“As our skin ages it loses collagen, elasticity and firmness which results in thinner skin and fine lines,” says Ingrid Hume of beauty company Pravera. “Wrinkles appear around the eye and lip areas, age spots and pigmentation are more noticeable on the skin’s surface, skin starts to sag and our complexion can become much drier (due to ageing skin being unable to retain moisture) and look dull.”

Causes of ageing skin

“There are a number of factors that can lead to premature skin ageing such as sun exposure, under-nourished skin, environmental pollutants, low grade skincare products and our diet and lifestyle,” says Ingrid Hume. “The sun is the primary cause of skin ageing. During the day our skin is exposed to UV rays that can damage the elastine fibres which keep it firm and plump. It’s important to wear sun protection every day with an SPF15 (sun protection factor) or higher. Other factors that can lead to ageing include smoking, which can cause wrinkles and a dull complexion; alcohol, which dehydrates and in time damages skin cells; central heating and working outside that dry out the skin and contribute to the ageing process. A poor diet of junk food can deprive the skin of nutrients.”

Looking after skin

“Looking after our skin is something we need to be doing from early on in our lives if we want to delay signs of ageing,” says Niamh Larkin. “We all age, whether we like it or not, but we can slow down the signs of ageing by putting thought and care into our diet, supplementation and of course our skincare routine. The most important thing you can do for your skin is to keep it hydrated. This means drinking water, and lots of it! Try to stick to an alkaline diet 80% of the time, and reduce consumption of caffeine and alcohol as these dehydrate the whole body, skin included.”

“The best way to keep our skin, hair and nails in the best condition possible is to have a well-balanced diet, plenty of green leafy vegetables and fruits along with portions of protein and healthy fats and grains,” says Ingrid Hume.

Your skincare routine

“A good skincare routine is vital to help protect our skin and the way it looks and feels,” says Ingrid Hume. “Using natural skincare products that are suited to your skin type is a must. If you have dry/dull skin use products which are brightening, moisturising and nourishing.

“From your mid-20s onwards opt for skincare that hydrates and regenerates the skin,” says Niamh Larkin. “Look for moisturisers that contain hyaluronic acid and good fats, and invest in a good eye cream. A natural and organic moisturiser will enhance the skin’s function, increasing hydration and moisture levels and preventing skin from drying out, losing elasticity and premature ageing.”

Anti-ageing supplements

“If you decide to take a supplement for your skin, remember that hydration is key,” says Niamh Larkin. “Taking a fish or plant oil supplement will act as a moisturiser that works from the inside, out. Hyaluronic acid supplements are also available as well as collagen, which are two great ways of maintaining your skin’s hydration and elasticity levels.”

Natural is best

“Natural products contain plant and botanical extracts which work with the natural functioning of the skin to assist it in regenerating and hydrating naturally,” says Niamh Larkin. “Products that contain a lot of chemicals and parabens can end up irritating the skin when used long term.”

“Natural plant extracts and oils that are high in antioxidants are great in helping to reduce the signs of ageing, such as ginkgo biloba, green tea, hyaluronic acid, pomegranate, vitamins E and C,” says Ingrid Hume. “These are naturally moisturising ingredients that penetrate the skin and retain moisture levels, boost firmness and help to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Vitamin E is also known to help strengthen and protect skin and reduce the formation of free radicals from sun exposure. Co-enzyme Q10 is a powerful antioxidant that stimulates cell production, encourages skin to regenerate and helps to protect it from free radicals. Hibiscus and ceramide offer the perfect care for mature skin. These natural ingredients are regenerating, minimise pigmentation marks and leave skin feeling smooth and supple.”

What about hair?

“Hair, like skin, should be looked after full time for it to continue looking good as it ages,” says Niamh Larkin. “Grey hair tends to be coarser than regular hair, so it needs a little extra love by conditioning or using a hair mask. Washing hair once or twice per week is ideal, as less frequent washing leads to less hair loss. A fantastic ingredient to look out for is biotin. Also known as vitamin B7, biotin is great for strengthening the hair follicle and encouraging hair growth. This can be found in some shampoos and conditioners and can also be taken as a supplement in capsule form.”

Did you know?

Rosehip oil is a pure plant oil commonly used in skincare and has many benefits. It’s a true multi-tasking beauty essential, rich in antioxidants and skin-loving nutrients which help improve overall skin condition. It’s a great source of essential fatty acids that make up the building blocks of your skin’s surface layers and are vital to skin health. These essential fatty acids naturally occur in rosehip oil and moisturise dry skin, improve softness and elasticity and help replenish and maintain radiantly healthy skin. Rosehip oil is also highly effective in helping to improve the appearance of scars, fine lines, wrinkles and stretch marks. It is also suitable for all skin types and is an all-in-one skin treat for a variety of skin concerns, from hydrating, nourishing and balancing the appearance of oily skin to replenishing for healthy, glowing skin.

Vitamin C and your skin

“The human body needs Vitamin C, but cannot make it, so we must get it from our diet,” says Maria Ascencao, natural health expert with Coyne Healthcare. “Regularly taking vitamin C supplements has a number of benefits for the body and your skin.

“Our skin is the organ most exposed to external elements, and it’s important to look after it as we age. Vitamin C can make the skin more elastic and smoother because it sweeps away free radicals that can cause damage and ageing, protects your skin from the harmful effects of UV radiation and helps it to produce collagen. Vitamin C can also boost vitamin E in the body, often referred to as the ‘vitamin of youth’, and it has anti-inflammatory and soothing effects, improving the condition of skin.

“However, one downside to taking conventional vitamin C orally is absorption. Many people believe that when you take vitamin C, your body automatically absorbs the full dosage. However, studies have shown you only absorb 12-14% of vitamin C in an oral supplement form. The absorption of liposomal vitamin C is significantly higher than that of a standard vitamin C supplement. Benefits of liposomal vitamin C include skin health, improved collagen production, and reduced oxidative stress throughout the body.”

Anti-ageing tips

  • Cut out sugar – it can cause skin to lose elasticity.
  • Cook with turmeric and garlic – great antioxidants with cleansing properties.
  • Take green superfoods – chlorella, grass juices and wild berries are high in antioxidants.
  • Take algal oil – an algae-based superfood that is anti inflammatory.
  • Cook with macadamia nut oil – rich in essential fatty acids which help to keep skin taut.

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