The skin is the largest organ of the human body, composed of three separate layers which are all as vitally important as each other. The epidermis is the outermost layer, which acts as a waterproof and protective surface; the dermis or middle layer consists of nerve endings, sweat glands, blood vessels, hair follicles and sebaceous glands. The subcutaneous layer is the third and deepest, comprised of fat cells and connective tissue; this layer gives our internal organs and bones insulation and maintains our body temperature of 36.7 degrees. To help keep our skin bouncy and tight, collagen and elastin fibers are present in the epidermis - these fibers hold everything tightly in place like an elastic band. As we age, these collagen and elastin fibers start to deplete... Suprisingly, this roughly starts from the age of 25!
Before we can look to counteract and minimise the signs of ageing, we need to understand what they are. With ageing, the outer layer of our skin thins and the number of pigment-containing cells decreases; this means more mature skin can appear thinner, paler and a little translucent. Changes in the connective tissue also reduce the skin's strength and elasticity, while the blood vessels of the dermis can become more fragile - leading to bruising and bleeding under the skin. Sebaceous glands produce less oil as you age (particularly after menopause,) making it harder to keep the skin moist, resulting in dryness and itchiness. The drier the skin, the more aged it will appear. The subcutaneous fat layer also thins, reducing its normal insulation and padding and increasing your risk of skin injury; this can result in the droopiness we associate with ageing.
So, with all these changes in our skin, does this mean we must start lathering anti-ageing creams from the age of 25? Well, yes if you are desperately trying to delay the signs of ageing. However, leading skin experts state that although collagen and elastin starts to deplete at the age of 25 years old, the true signs of ageing don't normally appear until early to mid 30's. This will largely depend on lifestyle and diet choices; if you are a smoker, sun worshipper or drink an excessive amount of alcohol the ageing process hit you a lot quicker than if you are maintaining a healthy diet and regularly exercising. Following a good skin care regime and using the right products for your skin type will ensure your skin looks and feels healthy for as long as possible; the more healthy and hydrated your skin is, the younger it will appear.
In order to keep your skin looking and feeling fab for as long as possible, ensure you're using a serum and light moisturiser every day under your makeup. These will help to inject lost nutrients and moisture into the skin, encouraging collagen production and even offering a temporary plumping or lifting effect. I love brands such as Caudalie and MeruMaya for simple and affordable products. A SPF is also vital if you're concerned with anti-ageing, as sun damage is the biggest detrimental factor in skin health; use a light formula such as Benefit's Dream Screen, which sits perfectly invisibly under makeup. Using a night cream can also help replenish and plump skin as you sleep, as well as investing in a weekly moisture-boosting face mask such as Hydraluron to provide a little top up.
It's definitely worth remembering that we can only delay the signs of ageing and give our skin a fighting chance; we cannot prevent ageing altogether. You could spend all the money in the world on expensive creams and the latest fad treatment - the truth is that we'll all mature eventually and should be proud of each and every wrinkle we form. If ageing is a concern for you, book an appointment with a trained therapist or skin consultant who will give you extensive skincare advice and recommended products to use for all of your skin concerns.
Written by Amy Bambrick