Aging is a progressive and predictable process in which gradual changes occur over a period of time. Since the skin is the largest organ and our external covering, the changes on the skin are amongst the most visible signs of aging. But there is a lot that happens beneath the skin as well. There are changes in the skeletal structure, there is fat loss and also muscle atrophy – all of which contribute towards an ageing face.
Your genetic makeup contributes a lot in the way a person ages and unfortunately there is little that can be done to alter that. There are external factors also that contribute towards the way one ages, the most important being exposure to the UV rays of the sun. India is home to an extraordinary variety of climatic regions, ranging from tropical in the south to temperate and alpine in the Himalayan north, where elevated regions receive sustained winter snowfall. What remains constant is the sun’s harsh rays at some point of the year or the other. The ultra violet rays have an extremely damaging affect on the skin, leading to premature dry skin which further leads to wrinkles adding to skin ageing.
As we age, our skin stops producing collagen – the protein that keeps the skin taut and firm, leading to the formation of lines and wrinkles. Another key factor in skin ageing is the loss of moisture from the skin. Add to it factors like bad lifestyle, smoking, irregular food habits, stress – all of it increase the free radical content, thereby accelerating the skin aging and wrinkles.
The fast paced life of today’s youth, the high stress levels, demanding jobs, peer pressure, competitive careers and the constant stress of ‘working with deadlines’ has definitely lead to accelerating the aging process in today’s youth.
With the advancement of medical technology, the longevity of life has surely increased, so has the premature advent of diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, obesity and hair loss which are seen a decade before the older generation. Laptops, mobiles and other gadgets do make life easier but sitting in front of laptops has led to an increase in sedentary lifestyles leading to lack of exercise which makes the skin look dull!
The process of ageing has never been easier on the body or on the mind than it is now. Luckily, maintaining your youth and beauty do not necessarily equal painful procedures and treatments.
In this issue I will take you through certain lifestyle changes that can help you correct and delay the ageing of skin as well as the body caused due to some of the extrinsic factors. The ‘magic mantra’ is to adapt to a balanced diet, a proper lifestyle, regular intake of supplements, using sunscreen, good hydrating agents as well as repair agents.
A thick layer of a sunscreen, which protects against UVA as well as UVB, should be worn regularly. More than SPF (sun protecting factor) of the sunscreen, the reapplication is more important, as a single application can protect your skin only for 2-3 hours. Reapply the sunscreen every 3 hours. A moisturiser can be used along with the sunscreen, if the skin is dry.
Use a 2-finger scoop of sunscreen of at least 15 SPF on your face and neck every day no matter the weather. Most people use sunscreen improperly by not applying enough. They apply only 25% to 50% of the recommended amount. Sunscreen should be applied liberally enough to all sun-exposed areas that it forms a film when initially applied. It takes 20-30 minutes for sunscreen to be absorbed by the skin, so it should be applied at least half an hour before going out in the sun.
When dealing with anti-ageing products and treatments it is first important that you understand that the aim of any anti-ageing serum or cream should be to restore the lost collagen and moisture to your skin. Stores today are flooded with creams that claim to take years off your face overnight and make you glow like a young 20 year old. To avoid using something that will not provide desired results, it is important for you to know what ingredients to look for in your creams.
Anti-aging creams usually contain retinol, alpha hydroxy acids and Vitamin C. One should ideally look out for Vitamin A derivatives such as retinol, retinaldehyde and retinol esters in these creams. More concentration or more application of the above ingredients could cause the skin to be more vulnerable or sensitive to sun damage/UV rays causing some side effects like redness and dryness of skin.
Besides using an anti-ageing cream to delay the signs of aging, a proper routine needs to be followed, which should include exercise in some form, which could be yoga, going to the gym, or even a simple brisk walk for 45 minutes or more daily. This helps in improving the blood circulation and helps improve the oxygenation of your skin.
A well balanced diet is equally important to have healthy and glowing skin. Good combination of fruits and vegetables meet the requirement of various vitamins and minerals to keep the skin healthy and delay ageing. Vegetable juice is very beneficial for healthy skin as it gives your body the required quantity of antioxidants. Although vegetable juice is a little harder to drink but if you can have it as your late-afternoon snack, it can make your skin really healthy and beautiful.
Some vegetables that are great for the skin are spinach, tomatoes, beetroot, bottle gourd, mint leaves, broccoli, carrot, and of course, wheat grass. Wheat grass juice is rich in chlorophyll, contains many enzymes, minerals and fibre and is considered very effective in preventing and curing cancer and all health problems. It purifies the blood and raises the haemoglobin level in the blood. Hence it proves to be excellent for radiant, glowing and younger looking skin.
A ‘sleep deprived’ skin appears to be sallow with puffy eyes and will eventually lead to lacklustre skin, fine lines and dark circles under the eyes. When you sleep you’re getting more than just rest as your skin is healing and repairing itself. The ‘8 hour beauty sleep’ regime does do wonders for the skin.
Nutritional supplements aid to enhance the quality of the skin and general well-being as well. Antioxidants, Vitamin C supplements and oil capsules help in fighting the accumulation of free radicals in our system which are responsible for aging and diseases (as severe as cancer too).
To summarise it for you
Use sunscreen in all weather conditions.
Eat a balanced diet, which includes fruits and vegetables each day.
Get check-ups on a regular basis.
Do not smoke. It is never too late to achieve health benefits by quitting.
Stay active, pursue some hobby or be involved in your community.
Avoid too much exposure to the sun or cold weather.
Consume alcohol only in moderation.
Take nutritional supplements like calcium, omega oil, folic acid, etc. to aid you further.
Keep a positive attitude toward life. Do the things that bring you happiness.
With the right combination of all the above and a little help from today’s wonder drugs there isn’t any reason why you should not look as young as you feel. The most important factor is to be consistent in what you do. The changes may not occur overnight or in a short span of time, but being regular in your efforts will surely bear fruit in the beautiful years yet to come!