Of the many clients I speak to with concerns about their skin, most are looking for recommendations for future-proof moisturisers, neck creams or eye gels to try and turn the clock back. The problem with this is that, while there are some wonderful anti-ageing products on the market these days, ageing is a result of hormonal changes in our bodies as we get older. As such, applying a topical cream is not the only thing we should be concerned for; we need to go deeper and look at circulation, diet and exercise to get skin looking its best again.
In order to understand how best to look after mature skin, it’s important first to be clear about how the ageing process works. When we talk about skin ageing, we cannot ignore the fact that it is part of our whole-body ageing and at its core is hormonal change, estrogen decline in particular becomes a skin issue, making skin drier, less plump and more prone to wrinkles.
In our 20s and 30s, estrogen levels remain high, producing that enviable, youthful glow. But once we hit the 40s, our estrogen starts to decline. By our 50s, we experience a further drop in this hormone, especially as we go through the menopause and all the changes that brings with it to our skin.
So, what does this mean for our skin? Estrogen keeps skin supple, and without it, skin looks dehydrated and dry. Products high in hyaluronic acid can help with this, but they can only go so far. Plus, for some of us, mature skin can involve our oil glands going into overdrive, causing acne, breakouts and inflamed bumps under the surface of the skin. Highly occlusive-moisturising products aren’t always the best option for skin like this.
On top of that, we have to bear in mind what is happening to the structure of our skin as we age. The skin is made up of three layers: the epidermis, the dermis and the hypodermis. The epidermis is the surface layer, so is what we see day to day. The dermis is the middle layer. The hypodermis is the functional part, deep underneath the upper layers, providing veins, nerves and so on. In terms of skin health, it is the dermis which is the really important part: it determines how the epidermis appears, as well as providing moisture to the surface through its sebaceous glands. The epidermis is made up largely of collagen and elastin, proteins which are abundant in our youth, but which break down as we age. They keep the skin plump and elastic, so this deficit also needs to be attended to as we think about how to treat ageing skin.
How to look after mature skin
1. Minimise your cleansing. One of the first and most enduring complaints from women with mature skin is that it is dry. My advice? Try cleansing just with cold water in the morning. This is sufficient to refresh the skin after a night’s sleep and will remove any dirt that may have accumulated overnight. This keeps the skin moist, keeping a layer of sebum to protect the skin and binding water within. Obviously, cleansing at night is still a must; regular readers of my articles will know that sleeping in makeup – or its residue – is an absolute no-no!
2. Replenish body and skin with plant-based estrogen. Diet is key in the battle to keep estrogen levels up. Eat plenty of foods or supplements containing broccoli, soy, grapeseed, evening primrose, nuts and green tea (amongst others) to aid restoring collagen. Remember to exercise to boost oxygen levels and improve circulation to the skin, and, most importantly, get your 8 hours every night. It’s called beauty sleep for a reason!
3. Cryotherapy. This involves treating your skin with a cold shock treatment, such as 001 Skincare’s CRYOpress. Such treatments work to stimulate the skin by increasing blood flow and boosting oxygen levels. Ultimately, the CRYOpress acts to encourage skin cells to behave as they did in your youth. How? Better circulation pumps more oxygen to the epidermis, eliminates toxins, clearing your skin and giving it back its glow-from within. It also has the added benefit of giving your skin an absorption boost, so that your skincare products really sink in and you benefit from their active ingredients as much as possible. I recommend using the CRYOpress in combination with the Alpha Glow Flash Facial combining 9 active ingredients which enhances moisture, boosts collagen and elastin levels, as well as calming the skin.