Ageing Skin

When skin gets older

Itís not something that can be avoided, but it helps to know what is happening as we age. Because it is not your imagination, your skin is really changing. Wrinkles are starting to appear, the skin seems to look duller and pigmented patches can occur. The mechanism that underlies the regeneration and renewal of skin cells in an average adult takes 28 to 30 days to completely renew the skin. As we get older, the process slows and it may take 50 to 60 days before skin is completely renewed. That, of course, means that older cells are staying in the skin structure for longer, dulling the appearance of the skin.

As a result of the ageing process thereís less effective blood circulation in the skin, too, meaning less supply of oxygen and slower removal of waste. At the same time, the skin will retain less moisture and loses its elasticity. The walls of the capillaries can become weaker, making them more visible and pigmentation can show as a result of a disruption of the melanin content, the substance that protects against UV rays. All of these changes will first be visible in the skin most exposed from day to day Ė the face, especially around the eyes, the neck and throat, and the hands.

What causes wrinkles?

The surface area of the skin is not smooth, but is composed of fine grooves in a diamond shaped pattern, not visible to the naked eye. On young skin these grooves have a very regular pattern, but as we age, some grooves disappear while others can be deeper. Early on these grooves are visible as fine lines, particularly around and under the eyes. With age, the lines will become deeper and will also appear around the mouth and on the forehead. Itís then that we start to call them wrinkles.

Can you prevent skin ageing and wrinkles?

Skin ageing is a completely natural process that is going to happen to us all sooner or later Ė akthough to what extent and when is different for everyone. You canít stop wrinkles, and some of the ways we try arenít great for your skin, but you can reduce wrinkles and slow their natural course with a modified lifestyle and proper care.

Scientific research has shown that premature ageing is caused by free radicals. These are small particles released during metabolism in our body. To neutralize their harmful effect, our body generates antioxidant enzymes. Factors such as air pollution, UV rays, stress, smoking and alcohol, cause an explosive growth of free radicals, so that they cannot be neutralized effectively by the body. Excess free radicals can damage healthy cells and cause damage to the skin and connective tissues, causing wrinkles and other signs of ageing.

Fortunately, we can help our body to protect itself against the effects of free radicals by opting for nutrition and personal care products that are rich in antioxidants. These are combinations of vitamins and minerals that Ė just like the enzymes in our body Ė stop the production of free radicals and neutralise those that are produced. Several studies have shown that vitamin C and E and carotenoids have a strong antioxidant effect. Other antioxidants are the minerals selenium, chromium and zinc, and some polyphenols.

Tips to protect yourself from premature ageing and wrinkles

A miracle cure for wrinkles and skin ageing does not exist. And itís not necessary either, because ageing is just part of life. However, you can look your age and still look radiant, with these five tips to help your skin retain its natural vitality:

1. Choose antioxidant rich foods

The free radicals that accelerate the ageing process in our bodies can be neutralised in part by choosing foods that are rich in antioxidants. Vitamins and minerals that are best to add your daily menu; Carotenoids (beta carotene, lycopene) from yellow, orange and red vegetables and fruits. Vitamin C from fruits and vegetables. Vitamin E from fruit and from vegetable oils. Selenium and zinc from meat, fish and whole grain products. Polyphenols (phenolic acids, flavonoids) from fruit, vegetables and (good news!) tea, coffee, chocolate and red wine!

2. Use carefully chosen skincare

Many skincare products for mature skin promise visible and spectacular rejuvenation. Older skin actually thrives best with mild, natural care using active oils and plant extracts that encourage natural cell renewal. Pomegranate seed oil is a great example. Rich in potassium, vitamin E, polyphenols and essential fatty acids, it has strong antioxidant properties and an intense nourishing effect. Evening Primrose oil is another wonderful ingredient, rich and oily with the right composition to be readily taken up by ageing skin.

3. Start young and benefit later

The best changes to your skincare will be effective if you adapt your routine as soon as the first signs of ageing occur. This usually starts around your thirtieth year in the area around the eyes. Wild Rose Smoothing skincare products help to smoothe the first lines and improves skin elasticity. The musk rose oil used in the range is known for its soothing effect on scar tissue, stretch marks and pigmentation.

4. Be careful in the sun

Frequent exposure to the sun is one of the main causes of premature skin ageing. Try to avoid strong direct sunlight for long periods and use adequate protection. By excessive sunbathing, even at a young age, youíll store up more wrinkles later in life as the skin "remembers" the sun damage.

5. Live well and enjoy life

Giving up smoking and ensuring sufficient exercise and relaxation are good for your skin and for your whole well-being. You donít need to become a professional athlete, but spend plenty of time outdoors and enjoy what you are doing. Walking, cycling and gardening are ideal activities. Did you know that Zen monks, who meditate daily, often show a smooth and flawless face, even in later life? The deep, slow breathing while meditating ensures a better oxygen uptake, extremely beneficial to the skin. So live calmly, breathe deep and let nature work her wonders.

The effect of the menopause on your skin

On average, a woman starts to move towards menopause around her fiftieth year. As her fertility decreases there are a number of physical changes, triggered by altered hormone levels. Menstruation stops, the whole body changes, and this also has consequences for the skin.

Because of declining oestrogen levels, your skin loses collagen and elastin and becomes weaker. At the same time the metabolism and regeneration of your skin starts to slow down and, as a result, the skin becomes drier, more sensitive and loses elasticity and resilience. The facial contours become softer and wrinkles deepen.

In this stage of life, it is important to choose care products that strengthen the skin, moisturize and revitalize without over-stimulating the skinís structure. Your skin is extra sensitive, after all, because of the hormonal changes. Products with a strong anti-ageing action should be avoided Ė short term visible effects will be cancelled out by longer-term imbalance. Weledaís facial and bodycare ranges are tailored to the changing life phases of women. Our Wild Rose products are ideal for adult skin which is not yet showing signs of ageing, protecting it against premature dryness and fine lines. Pomegranate, a mysterious fruit with a hidden secret interior, offers us the oil for a face and bodycare range ideally suited to women approaching the menopause. Our newest range, Evening Primrose, actively supports ageing skin with rich oils, plumping action and protection against age-spots and lines. Whatever your age, Weleda is there with you to ensure you stay radiant for life.