If the adverts are to be believed, youthful, wrinkle-free skin is the ultimate beauty goal. There is an entire world full of products and procedures out there claiming to be the next best thing since sliced bread when it comes to anti-ageing, but does any of it actually work?
We’d probably all admit to wanting to keep our youthful good looks for as long as possible (or at the very least, not look any older than we really are), but can a filler or a cream really turn back the hands of time and restore youth to your skin?
With such a minefield of skincare products and procedures out there, what should we be spending our money on and when? In this article, we try and separate the hype from the reality when it comes to keeping wrinkles, dark circles and age spots at bay.
Is there a right time to start an anti-ageing routine?
Studies show that only 20-30% of skin ageing is genetically determined. The rest is down to your environment, health and lifestyle. So, the earlier you can start taking care of your skin, the greater your chances of protecting against the signs of premature ageing. However, there is no right or wrong time to start a skincare routine and it’s never too late to give your skin extra levels of nourishment and care.
Are all anti-ageing products expensive?
A good skincare routine doesn’t need to involve expensive creams and fancy ingredients (despite what we see on the beauty counters). In fact, the appearance of your skin has as much to do with what you eat, how stressed you are and how much sleep you get. It’s just as important to factor these things into your skincare regime, as it is to find the right products for your skin type.
At night, while you’re asleep, your body is busy producing collagen and hyaluronic acid – both of which are important for the strength, elasticity and hydration of your skin. If you regularly miss out on a decent nights sleep, then this process of cell repair and regeneration is interrupted, which can have a huge impact on the appearance of your skin.
Similarly, when you are stressed, the levels of cortisol in your body increase. This extra cortisol actually breaks down collagen, which in turn affects the appearance of your skin.
Are there any youth-boosting essentials?
Yes, no matter what your age, there are some things that should be a must on your skincare list.
Sun exposure is one of the biggest contributors to early ageing, so it’s really important to wear sunscreen on your face every day to minimise damage. Lots of moisturisers and makeup contain sunscreen, or you can just tackle this as a separate step. Aim for an SPF of either 15 or 30, depending on your skin type.
2) Cleansing and Exfoliating
Gentle exfoliation should form part of your weekly routine, to help get rid of dead skin cells and boost collagen production. To avoid over-scrubbing though, alternate between an exfoliating cleanser and a calming cleanser and avoid anything that is too heavily scented as typically that signifies extra ingredients that could damage or dry your skin too much. Your skin shouldn’t feel tight after cleansing, so it if does, have a play with alternative products until you find the right combination for your skin type.
Look for products or supplements that contain retinol (or Vitamin A derivatives). These are known to promote collagen production and prevent it’s breakdown. You don’t need to spend a fortune to find good quality, safe moisturisers that contain retinol, although there are some specific over-the-counter options too (for example Skinceuticals).
Read more about the science of skincare here.
Is it possible to get rid of dark circles or puffy eyes?
Sadly, these are notoriously difficult to treat and can actually be caused by a number of reasons, not just age. Products that claim to dramatically alter the appearance of dark circles are very unlikely to have any real or long-term effect.
As you get into your late 30’s and early 40’s, you naturally start to lose fat on the face, particularly around the eye socket, which can affect how the light hits the face and result in a darker looking circle. You can treat this with fillers under the eye, but using a good concealer is a far less invasive and cheaper way of achieving the same result.
Dark circles and puffiness can also be caused by congestion, hayfever, pigmentation, diet and changes in the blood supply around the eye, which are harder to tackle. Some eye creams will work temporarily to improve the appearance, but most don’t offer any noticeable difference in the long-term. If you do suffer from hayfever or allergies, then treating those symptoms with nasal sprays and anti-histamines may also help to improve the appearance of the skin around your eyes.
How should I tackle crows feet, deeper wrinkles or saggy skin?
To prevent fine lines and wrinkles naturally, then we’re back to those 3 beauty essentials of sunscreen, retinoids and gentle exfoliation/cleansing. These are the best non-invasive ways of preventing the signs of ageing.
However, if you want an instant boost that has medium-term effects, you’re willing to make more of an investment and you aren’t scared of needles, then Botox can work well. It works by weakening the muscles in the injected area and reducing the wear and tear that causes wrinkles. The effects last around 4-6 months and even after the Botox starts to wear off, the wrinkles take longer to appear because the skin has had time to rest and heal.
For deeper set wrinkles, many people use fillers or injections of hyaluronic acid which can compensate for fat loss and even out the contours of the skin. These treatments restore and strengthen the skin and the effects can last up to 18 months, but none of them are permanent and won’t fundamentally change the overall composition of your face.
For sagginess and loss of elasticity generally, then there really isn’t much you can do for any long-term effect without going under the knife. Other temporary treatments include microneedling, Dermapen and Radio Frequency, all of which aim to rehydrate the skin or stimulate it into producing more collagen.
Ultimately, prevention is key, which is why those skincare essentials are so important in the long-term protection and nourishment of your skin.
Is it possible to get rid of pigmentation or brown spots?
There are a number of reasons why you might have patches of pigmentation or spots on your skin. Sun damage is the most common reason (hence the importance of wearing sunscreen), but hormonal changes and inflammation from acne or hair removal can also contribute.
Some over-the-counter products claim to tackle these skin complaints, but the concentration of active ingredients in these products is generally too low to create any noticeable or lasting effect. Prescription products are generally better if you have a real concern. Otherwise, these areas of your skin are best left alone and just nourished as part of your normal skincare routine.
Should everyone resort to fillers or Botox eventually?
Absolutely not. These treatments are simply an option depending on how much you want to invest in your appearance. A non-invasive and preventative approach to skincare is always the best answer if you want to tackle the signs of ageing. However, fillers and other injected treatments are an alternative option if you are unhappy with the lines on your face and want an instant boost in the appearance of your skin.
Grow old gracefully
When it comes to anti-ageing products, it is possible to try too hard and you can overload or stress the skin by trying too many things at once. The best advice is to keep your skincare regime simple and consistent. Look at your diet and lifestyle to ensure you are nourishing your skin on the outside and the inside, to help your body produce and protect the vital ingredients it needs to stay healthy.
And then, there is always the school of thought that we should all just grow old gracefully. Why not embrace your fine lines and wrinkles as part of who you are? It could be that they tell a story of a life that is full of fun in the sun, smiles, laughter and good times.
Share your experience
Do you have one particular anti-ageing product that you swear by? Maybe you are a Botox lover? Perhaps you’ve had a bad experience with fillers or have decided to just let nature takes it course. Whatever your story, we’d love to hear from you. Pop your comments in the box below.