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Anti-ageing skincare: prevention vs correction

Skin ageing is a natural, complex process influenced by a variety of factors. These factors are broadly classified as intrinsic (internal causes like genetics) and extrinsic (external causes from our environment). While we can't completely stop the clock on ageing, understanding effective skincare strategies helps us differentiate between preventing premature ageing and addressing existing visible changes.

Unravelling the science of skin ageing

Intrinsic ageing: our genes determine how our skin changes over time. This natural ageing process causes skin to become thinner, drier, and less elastic. Collagen and elastin production slows down, leading to fine lines, wrinkles, and a loss of firmness.

Extrinsic ageing: also known as photoageing, extrinsic ageing is the result of cumulative damage from environmental factors. The primary culprit is ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun. Pollution, smoking, and poor diet also contribute. This damage leads to wrinkles, pigmentation changes (age spots), roughness, and loss of elasticity.

The power of prevention

When it comes to skin ageing, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Here are the cornerstones of a preventive anti-ageing skincare routine:

  • The daily use of sunscreen (max SPF 30) even on cloudy days protects the skin from sun damage caused by UV radiation. This is a significant contributor to skin ageing and skin cancer risk. UV radiation breaks down collagen, damages DNA in skin cells, and leads to oxidative stress. Seek shade, wear protective clothing, and a wide-brimmed hat for additional sun protection.
  • Antioxidants neutralize free radicals (unstable molecules formed during metabolism and in response to UV damage and pollution). Look for skincare products containing vitamin C, E, niacinamide, resveratrol, green tea extracts, or other potent antioxidants.
  • Our overall well-being is mirrored in our skin health. A healthy lifestyle incorporating a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains provides essential nutrients. Regular exercise boosts circulation, delivering oxygen and nutrients to skin cells. Adequate sleep allows for skin repair and regeneration. Managing stress keeps levels of the ageing hormone, cortisol, in check.

Key prevention strategies for healthy ageing

The good news is that many of the strategies for slowing down the visible signs of ageing on the skin also have a profound impact on our internal health and help reduce our risk for chronic diseases.

  1. Nutritious and balanced diet
    • Fruits and vegetables are rich in antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and fibre, they protect cells from damage and promote overall health.
    • Whole grains provide complex carbohydrates, fibre, and essential nutrients in a less processed form compared to refined grains.
    • Lean protein - choose fish, poultry, beans, and lentils over higher-fat red meats to promote heart health and healthy weight.
    • Healthy fats like olive oil, nuts, seeds, and fatty fish. These fats help reduce inflammation and support brain health.
    • Minimise processed foods, added sugar, and unhealthy fats. These contribute to inflammation, weight gain, and increased risk for chronic diseases.
  2. Regular physical activity
    • Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise per week.
    • Include strength training at least twice a week to build and preserve muscle mass and bone density.
    • Regular activity strengthens the heart, improves circulation, maintains healthy weight, reduces inflammation, and boosts overall health.
  3. Adequate and quality sleep
    • Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep per night. Sleep deprivation disrupts hormone balance, metabolism, and cellular repair processes.
    • Chronic poor sleep increases the risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and accelerated ageing processes in the body.
  4. Stress management
    • Chronic stress increases inflammation throughout the body and contributes to the development of chronic diseases.
    • Practice stress-reducing techniques like yoga, meditation, deep breathing exercises, or spending time in nature.
  5. Avoid smoking and limit alcohol
    • Smoking accelerates ageing, damages DNA and is a major risk factor for cancers, heart disease, and lung disease.
    • Excessive alcohol is linked to liver damage, increased cancer risk, and overall compromised health.
  6. Hydration
    • Staying well-hydrated is important for overall health, supports metabolism, and keeps cells functioning optimally. Drink water throughout the day and eat hydrating foods like fruits and vegetables.
  7. Maintain a healthy weight
    • Excess weight increases the risk of chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers. Work towards achieving and maintaining a healthy weight through diet and exercise.

Addressing existing signs of ageing

While prevention is crucial, many people are also looking for skincare solutions to address noticeable signs of ageing. Here are targeted strategies based on common skin concerns:

  • Retinoids, derived from vitamin A, are considered the gold standard for tackling wrinkles and fine lines. They boost collagen production, increase cell turnover, and smooth out fine lines. Start with an over-the-counter retinol product, gradually increasing frequency as your skin tolerates it. Prescription-strength retinoids (like tretinoin) offer stronger effects but a higher potential for irritation. Investigate alt-retinol if your skin is very sensitive or reacts to retinoids.
  • Pigmentation changes or hyperpigmentation (dark spots or patches) can be due to sun damage, hormonal changes, or post-inflammatory scarring. Ingredients like hydroquinone (prescription-strength), kojic acid, vitamin C, liquorice extract, and tranexamic acid help regulate melanin production and fade existing discolouration. Combining these with sunscreen is essential to prevent darkening. Our GF2 formulations also help to fade pigmentation, restoring the natural tone of the skin.
  • A loss of firmness and sagging results from a loss of collagen and elastin, leading to looser skin. While topical skincare can help, it has limitations. Retinoids offer modest firming benefits. Peptides, short chains of amino acids, can signal skin cells to produce more collagen. Procedures like ultrasound, laser, or microneedling stimulate collagen production more deeply in the skin. Combine these treatments with our GF1 Aftercare for post-treatment healing and orderly collagen production to get the maximum benefits with minimum downtime, pain and inflammation.
  • As we age our skin naturally holds less moisture leading to dryness and dehydration. Hyaluronic acid is a star humectant, drawing water into the skin for a plump, hydrated look. Ceramides (fatty acids naturally present in skin) replenish the skin’s moisture barrier. GF2 also helps to improve the natural hyaluronic acid production in the skin cells with regular use, helping to improve overall hydration in the skin.

Other tips for your skincare

Start early: prevention is easiest when you start young. A basic daily skincare routine of sunscreen and GF2 in your 20s sets a solid foundation. However, it’s never too late to adopt healthy skincare habits.

Skin type matters: tailor your product choices to your skin type (dry, oily, sensitive, etc.). Seek guidance from a dermatologist if you have persistent skin concerns or are unsure what products are right for you.

Patch testing: introduce new products one at a time, and patch test them on a small area (like your inner arm) before applying them to your face. This minimises the risk of irritation.

Professional treatments like chemical peels, laser therapy and injectables (botox or dermal fillers) might be an option to achieve more dramatic results. These carry varying costs, risks, and downtime. Make sure you consult with a trained professional if you go this route.

Anti-ageing supplements may help where your diet might not be giving your skin all the specific nutrients it requires. Consult your doctor before adding anything new and untested to your routine.

It is important to have realistic expectations. Skincare products can make a visible difference, but they are not a magic eraser. Embrace the natural beauty of your skin at every age.

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