Skin Saver: How to keep glowing in later years

As the party season revs up this may be an ideal time to take steps to ward off damaging effects our lifestyle can have on your face. Margaret Jennings suggests some resolutions.

ARE you peering in the mirror and bemoaning your ageing skin? It may not be the best time of year to remind you of how our lifestyle affects our face — with the party season cranking up, but there is only so much make-up can do to hide damage that we ourselves can help avoid.

Without being a total party pooper, it’s important to remember that as we age, the effects of unhealthy lifestyle habits take an even greater toll on our skin. “With ageing skin, 20% is genetic — you’re programmed to be the way you’re going to be, but you can actually modify it a lot with your lifestyle habits,” says consultant dermatologist, Rosemary Coleman from the Blackrock, Dublin.

We asked her to give her top tips for keeping our skin fresh and healthy looking throughout the decades.

THOSE RAYS: Do we need to be reminded? With ageing sun damage probably accounts for 80% of so-called photodamage, says Coleman, so apply sun protection routinely 365 days a year, not just when it’s sunny.

“It’s very obvious if someone has been exposing themselves to the sun because they have a lot of pigmentation, more broken blood vessels than you would expect, coarser wrinkles and the skin can actually be thickened. So they have obvious signs of weathering not to mention pre-cancerous lesions.

“The bottom line is it’s never too late to put on sun protection. And nowadays patients coming at 60, may still have another 30 or 40 years to get out of their skin, so when they say, like a woman said today to me ‘it’s too late the damage is done’, I said ‘no way — you’re only 62. That’s definitely not old’.”

Cost is no excuse. There are sun block ranges from Lidl to Brown Thomas, she says. “What’s important is the sun block, not what brand you use. Take a layering approach using moisturiser with sunblock in it and then also make-up with sun block; that way there will be some hope of getting decent protection.”

Protect also your neck and chest and back of the hands—not just your face. “Otherwise you find that your face, neck and chest is a different age to your hands.”

EXFOLIATION: Exfoliate gently once a week to speed up cell renewal which gives a nice radiance. Cleanse every day using whatever cleanser you like. “Use a muslin cloth or facecloth and take it off, with water. I don’t like wipes or cottons pads. I don’t think they remove the cleanser properly and leave a residual film on the skin,” says the dermatologist.

LIFESTYLE: Low sugar diet. No smoking. Less alcohol.

“I’m not suggesting people don’t drink, but alcohol is very ageing to the skin,”she says. “Beauty sleep wasn’t called that for nothing; sleep is very important. Exercise is very important – it increases blood flow and people who exercise often look healthier

DE-STRESS: Stress is very hard on the skin. So we should do things like yoga, deep breathing, mindfulness.

VITAMINS: Take vitamin C, Selenium and Vitamin D because we don’t get enough sunlight in Ireland and don’t get enough in our diet.

CREAMS: Use products with active ingredients such as retinols, vitamin C,
Glycolic acids, peptides.

There are many things a person can do at home to help themselves. Then in regards to treatments at a clinic, it totally depends on the person — whether they want to be less invasive, and focus on improving their complexion, using peels or lasers — or whether they want to restore the volume using injectable fillers, says Coleman.

What are the issues a mature woman would come most to her with? “Everything – volume loss, broken blood vessels, skin complaints, acne and oily skin around menopause is also very common. Pigmentation and broken blood vessels – disorders that require laser treatment would be very common.”

“Volumisers would be a very big help for the mature woman, as we naturally lose volume as we get older. Again it depends on the individual but I would go for a very subtle volume replacement; it can make a big difference without being at all noticeable — for example on their cheeks, chin, forehead, eyes, hands, wherever they need it — you can put volumiser anywhere.

“I find that patients who come to me don’t want to be completely paralysed with Botox; they want to just look fresher and healthier. But I do find that patients says to me that it gives them a boost, to know that they are looking their best, looking fresher and less tired.”

That unhealthy living takes its toll, though regardless, but the message is a hopeful one: we can always reverse some damage. “You can do an awful lot yourself – it’s not all over,” says Coleman. “I put the emphasis on what people can do for themselves. And then if you choose, you can go along to clinics and put the icing on the cake.”

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