Navigating the many thousands of ingredients in skincare can bewilder the most seasoned beauty buff. If you’re seeking products with anti-ageing benefits, the ingredient maze gains further mystique. Every beauty house is spruiking a different hero ingredient and you’re left wondering which, if any, are the most effective, and whether some miracle potion exists, aka Death Becomes Her, that will defuse those fine lines creeping up around your mouth and eyes and retain your youthful visage forever.
There are many facets to skin ageing, not just wrinkles. A product labelled ‘anti-ageing’ won’t necessarily smooth out skin creases, so it’s important to look past the marketing jargon and stake out skin-active ingredients that will proactively fight the hallmarks of ageing. Because skin ageing is a reflection of overall body ageing, it’s important to take a holistic approach, encompassing body and skin.
The best defence is a good offence
From the time you hit twenty-five, skin begins to visually age. Yep, sh*t just got very real. This doesn’t mean that we suddenly sprout lines, but the collagen an stores in our skin begin to deplete, reducing elasticity (the ability to snap back into place, after creasing). Maturing skin doesn’t hold onto moisture as well, aiding the appearance of crepiness and fine lines; it also needs a leg-up with exfoliation as cell turnover slows down, to keep it from looking dull.
Establishing a solid skincare routine in your twenties will build your skin’s resilience to the effects of ageing, but it’s never too late to start. Cleanse, tone and moisturise, twice daily; remove makeup with religious fervour; add in a facial oil if your skin doesn’t feel hydrated with moisturiser, alone, and incorporate hyaluronic acid and vitamin C into your skincare (we’ll touch on why, below). And you’ve heard it a million times, but sunscreen that face, g-friend! There isn’t a dermatologist alive who won’t agree that sun damage is the number one cause of premature skin ageing. Since entering my thirties, I swear my face ages five years for every bout of sunburn!
When choosing a sunscreen, look for a formula as close to pure zinc as possible. This will not only reduce your exposure to potentially harmful synthetics, like oxybenzone, but prevent that notoriously greasy feel that will have your makeup slip-sliding off your face. Little Urchin is a light, velvety SPF 30 that wears well under makeup. Blend with your moisturiser and apply to your skin after serums and oils, but before makeup application.
There’s a reason that skincare products are advertised as able to reduce the *appearance* of fine lines – they don’t necessarily undo skin ageing. Sure, some ingredients plump and smooth the skin to make lines less obvious but bar invasive procedures, like cosmetic injections and face lifts, there is no one miracle cure to turn back the clock. However, taking care of your skin with good quality active ingredients can slow that mother-ticker down.
If you’re in your thirties, forties or beyond and still relying on chemist brands for your beauty regime, it’s time to step it up a notch. Many lower-cost skincare products are less concentrated with the good stuff and crammed with synthetic fillers, of questionable benefit to your skin and wellbeing. The sooner you can establish a sound preventative routine, the better your skin will fare as you age.
Great skin from within
Skin is truly remarkable stuff. Not only does it do a stellar job of keeping our insides snugly protected – it is similarly skilled at keeping things out. Yes, it’s true that skin is porous and can absorb what we put on it, but it takes time for ingredients to achieve a level of concentration that may impact the skin’s appearance. This makes routine application of the good stuff important and consuming anti-ageing foods a wise move, so that you’re bypassing your skin’s natural defences.
There is a lot of talk in beauty about adding hydration and antioxidants to the skin, but if you’re well hydrated, your skin will be also. If you consume antioxidants, in the form of fresh fruits and vegetables, you’ll be helping to neutralise internal free radicals, which contribute to skin ageing. Drinking 2 litres of water, taking a food-based vitamin C supplement and eating a wide variety of fresh produce, will go great lengths to safeguard your skin from premature ageing. Conversely, too much salt and coffee will dehydrate you, while sugar, alcohol and smoking promote oxidation, which is often expressed through the skin as dryness, poor skin tone and the early appearance of lines. Red capsicum, papayas, blueberries, spinach and broccoli are just some superfoods with skin-loving benefits.
Your age-busting skin heroes
There is no one smoking gun to prevent or reverse skin ageing. Healthy skin requires consistency and care for your whole self. If you’re chronically tired, stressed and relying on processed foods, you’ll need to overhaul more than just your beauty routine to safeguard your skin. But, setting up healthy skin habits can be a great first step in practicing self-care and establishing healthier habits overall. It’s important to choose skincare products which feature most, or all, of these skin heroes in good concentration, and use regularly, to experience their benefits.
Everyone’s paranoid about fine lines and wrinkles but skin dryness often appears well before these two party-poopers and, if not addressed early, can snowball into other more visible signs of ageing. Skin loses its ability to retain moisture with age, thanks to decreasing stores of hyaluronic acid (HA) – a naturally occurring component of healthy skin that holds water.
While it’s not possible to replenish the skin’s stores of HA with topical skincare, applying HA mimics the effects of the skin’s inherent reserves, plumping skin cells and smoothing the appearance of lines. HA is a humectant, meaning that it draws water from the deeper layers of the skin to the outermost layer, the epidermis. HA also helps to hold moisture in the skin that would otherwise evaporate into the air – it’s been shown to hold one thousand times its own weight in water!
To experience the benefits of HA, be sure to choose a moisturiser or serum with a concentration of at least one percent, like our Hydration Intense Hyaluronic Acid Serum & Skin Replenishing Miracle Serum. Apply after cleansing and toning but before moisturiser and SPF. Because HA isn’t oily, it sits well under makeup and it’s the perfect hydrator if you’re prone to breakouts.
A powerhouse antioxidant, vitamin C protects the body from free radicals – volatile oxygen molecules which cause oxidation and cell death. In the skin, free radical damage can be seen in the form of dullness, dryness, fine lines and wrinkles. Because the body doesn’t make or store its own vitamin C, and it’s needed for virtually every process in the human body, supplementation with a non-GMO, food-based C is almost always a good idea. You can also eat plenty of C-rich foods, like citrus, capsicum, strawberries, blackcurrants and broccoli.
Vitamin C is present in high concentrations in the skin, meaning that skin is highly vulnerable to environmental stressors. Sun exposure and pollution rob vitamin C from the skin, with even minimal UV exposure shown to deplete the skin’s vitamin C concentration by 30%. Applying C to the skin may help to protect from sun damage and premature ageing but be sure to select skincare with a high concentration of this power-packed vitamin.
2-in1 Face & Eye Dream Cream contains several forms of natural vitamin C. As vitamin C is sensitive to light, heat and oxygen, look for protective packaging, like amber glass or opaque plastic, and be sure to seal the lid tightly after each use.
vitamin E is considered by many experts to be the most important antioxidant because it protects cell membranes and prevents free radical damage. Known as a photo-protectant, vitamin E promotes cell repair to actively fight sun damage. Vitamin E works in synergy with Vitamin C to mediate the effects of UV rays, as within our Bulgarian Rose Otto Face Elixir. It is well documented that vitamin E improves the appearance of scarring, stretch marks and hyperpigmentation, while helping the skin hold on to fat and moisture, to delay the onset of skin ageing.
Both topical application through skincare and upping dietary intake of vitamin E have been shown to benefit the skin. Get your fill of this fat-soluble vitamin by eating cold-pressed sunflower oil, nuts, grains, oats, kiwi, tomato and avocado. You may wish to take a vitamin E supplement with your healthcare provider’s blessing – taking 400mg a day has been shown to reduce photodamage and wrinkles.
Alpha Hydroxy Acids
The stratum corneum, otherwise known as the topmost layers of the skin, tend to increase in thickness as we age, leading to a dull, rough exterior, void of that youthful glow we all know and love. Alpha-hydroxy acids, known as AHAs to the initiated, are a type of non-abrasive exfoliant, which remove dead skin cells, unclog pores and break down cell bonds in the stratum corneum, producing smoother skin in as little as a day. With time and regular use, AHAs may also improve fine lines, skin yellowing, blotchiness, and dark spots.
Additionally, AHAs, like the malic acid in our 2-in1 Face & Eye Dream Cream, prep the skin to readily absorb the goodness found in serums, face oils and creams, and encourage smooth, even skin tone. We prefer to use apple-derived malic acid over synthetic AHAs, as they are less irritating to the skin. You can also incorporate AHAs into your diet by eating lemon, grapefruit, papaya, pineapple and tomato.
Remember, healthy, vibrant skin begins with taking care of your whole self. While we can bottle all of the most effective ingredients to fight skin ageing, there is no substitute for staying hydrated, getting your 7+ hours each night and eating a wide array of fruit and vegetables.