Skin watch - Tyra Banks

Tyra Banks earlier this month in New York City. The former model turns 40 in December.

Kate Moss and Tyra Banks are two big names about to mark a birthday milestone — and both show just how good you can look at 40 and beyond, says Rachel Marie Walsh.

SPF forever

Skipping sun protection? Today is the day to stop! UV radiation is by far the greatest skin-ager and is present every day, rain or shine. Daily application of SPF30 or higher gives other skincare the opportunity to work, gives existent damage a chance to heal and helps prevent cancer. Quitting smoking, eating properly and breaking other bad skin habits can be very difficult. This simple step genuinely delays ageing and helps keeps skin healthy.

Take it easy

Be kind to your skin by checking product ingredients before you buy. Search sites like cosmeticsinfo.org or the ingredients dictionary at paulaschoice.com to understand what is in your skincare. Artificial fragrance, as well as certain plant extracts, alcohols, preservatives and essential oils, can irritate the skin.

Reactions may not be visible on the surface, so you can use irritating products for years without realising their effects. Irritation often does its damage underneath, creating large pores, diminishing collagen, mutating cells and exacerbating oily skin. Analyse skincare ingredients lists as if they were on your food.

Collagen in skincare

Your skin’s collagen cannot be replenished topically. Collagen in cleansers, serums and creams won’t yield new collagen or bond with skin’s own reserve. Your money is better spent on skincare with ingredients that support skin’s natural collagen production (eg vitamin C, retinol, green tea, pomegranate extract and coenzyme Q10).

No scrubs

Exfoliation makes skin look younger and fresher but if you use a scrub for this, consider the alternatives. Scrubs have limited benefits because they only treat the most superficial layer of skin, leaving a lot of unhealthy build-up untouched. Also, the rough texture of many scrubs can weaken and tear the skin’s natural protective barrier.

To exfoliate effectively and safely, use an AHA (Alpha Hydroxy Acid) or BHA (Beta Hydroxy Acid) product after cleansing. AHAs are best for dryness or sun-damage because they both exfoliate the skin and improve its moisture content. Well-formulated options include Olay Regenerist Night Renewal Elixir, €27.12, NeoStrata Brightening Bionic Eye Cream, €47.90, and Peter Thomas Roth Glycolic Acid 10% Moisturiser,€36.40 at beautybay.com BHAs are oil-soluble and cleanse deep inside our (sebum-filled) pores. These are best for acne and white-bump or blackhead-prone skin.

BHAs have also been found to reduce redness in sensitive and rosacea-prone skin. If you are using prescription products for these problems, consult with your doctor before experimenting. Two great BHA options: Jan Marini Skin Research Factor A-Plus Mask, €75 at facethefuture.co.uk, and Smashbox Photo Finish More Than Primer Blemish Control Salicylic Acid Acne Treatment, €34.50.

Reasons to try Retinol

There is no panacea for all skin problems but a fragrance and irritant-free cream that contains retinol is a contender. Retinol is pure Vitamin A (often listed as retinyl palmitate on ingredients lists), which converts to retinoic acid when absorbed by the skin. Retinoic acid can effectively tell a skin cell to function and even look like a healthier, younger cell. It is thought to improve some 100 skin issues, including acne, eczema, deep wrinkles, rosacea and age spots.

Used with an SPF (as it must be, in daytime) it significantly improves sun damage. It is safe to use over-thecounter retinol products with an AHA or BHA exfoliant but seek advice before using them with prescription skincare. The best retinol products contain an effective amount of the ingredient, have the right packaging to keep it stable and back it up with great antioxidants and skin-healers.

Some fine examples include: Jan Marini Skin Research Age Intervention Retinol Plus, €77.53, Murad Time Release Retinol Concentrate for Deep Wrinkles, €78, Dr Dennis Gross Skincare Ferulic + Retinol Brightening Solution, €69.06 at feelunique.com.

Know your expectations

While a proper skincare regime can greatly improve skin’s appearance and delay ageing, it is important to note that no topical product can achieve the same results as dermal filler (Juvéderm, Restylane, etc), no matter what the label promises.

Your forties is the decade in which skin starts to develop deep wrinkles, becomes thinner, drier and less elastic. It is physiologically impossible for a cream to restore skin’s lost collagen, elastin or hyaluronic acid.

While you can certainly opt to forgo all non-surgical anti-ageing treatments, a mix of good skincare and fillers will yield more youthful results than skincare alone.

Fillers are perhaps preferable to laser treatments or chemical peels because of the instant results, rarity of irritation and very brief recovery time.

However, these options are all expensive and require follow-up appointments, so should only be undertaken after careful consideration.


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