Caring for your skin in Midlife
As you enter midlife, you will notice changes in your skin. The skin care regime you used in your youth will no longer suit your skin. This article will discuss how aging skin changes and give you some tips on caring for your skin as you age. You will learn how to choose anti-aging products for your skin and what to look for when you purchase skin care products.
Midlife brings with it changes to your skin. Fluctuating hormone levels during perimenopause leads to itchy, dry skin, and may even cause breakouts. My skin became oily and acne prone in my 40s. Now that I am in my 50s I have patches of dry skin, noticeable age spots and visible broken capillaries on my chin.
The affects of aging on skin
Aging affects skin in many ways, both on the surface of skin and below the outer layer. The effects of aging on our skin depends on various factors including lifestyle, diet and hereditary factors. In Australia and New Zealand we are exposed to harsh sunlight year round and eventually the damage we have accumulated catches up with us.
The affects of sun damage on skin
Damage from the sun is arguably the main cause of aging skin. Sun damage is called photoaging. UV light damages elastin fibres in the skin, which causes skin to sag, stretch and lose its ability to snap back if stretched. The skin bruises and tears more easily and takes longer to heal.
Lifestyle factors that affect your skin
Other causes of skin damage are pollution, stress, gravity, daily facial movement and sleep position. Gravity causes drooping of eyebrows and eyelids, and looseness and fullness under cheeks and jaw. Facial movement leads to the appearance of horizontal lines on your forehead, vertical lines above the nose, and small lines on the temples, cheeks and around your mouth.
One of the leading causes of aging skin is smoking. Smoking ages your skin by producing free radicals, once-healthy oxygen molecules that are now over-active and unstable. Free radicals damage cells, leading to premature wrinkles.
How Natural Aging Affects Skin
As we grow older, the following changes occur naturally:
- Your skin becomes rougher,
- Skin may develop lesions such as benign tumours,
- Aging skin becomes less elastic and will hang loosely,
- You may notice that your skin is more transparent. This is caused by the thinning of the epidermis (surface layer of the skin),
- Skin becomes more fragile,
- Your skin becomes more easily bruised due to thinner blood vessel walls,
- Skin is dry and prone to itching due to the loss of oil glands.
Changes below the skin:
Changes also occur under the skin surface as we age:
- Bone loss around the mouth and chin may cause puckering of the skin around the mouth,
- Cartilage loss in the nose causes drooping of the nasal tip and accentuation of bones in the nose,
- Loss of subcutaneous fat, especially on the cheeks, temples, chin, nose and eye area may cause loosening skin and sunken eyes.
Anti-aging skin care tips
The following tips will help you when caring for your skin as you age:
- Protect your skin from the sun. Sun protection is the best way of protecting your skin from further damage, and may even reverse some of the sun damage that has already occurred.
- Do not use tanning beds or sunlamps as they also damage the skin.
- Apply moisturiser daily as it traps water under the skin, giving it a more youthful appearance. Use moisturiser on your face and body and lip balm on your lips.
- Wash away dirt and grime twice daily with a mild cleanser. Don’t use soap.
- Stop smoking as it leads to premature aging and wrinkles, among other things.
- Eat a healthy diet containing plenty of fruit and vegetables, lean proteins and healthy fats. Drink plenty of water to hydrate you from the inside.
- Ensure you have enough sleep as it gives your body time to refresh and renew itself.
How to choose anti-aging products for your skin
Choose products that are suitable for your aging skin. Look for products with the following characteristics:
Choose hypoallergenic products if your skin is sensitive. Use mild unscented products to avoid irritating your skin. Look for creams with bakuchiol instead of Retinol. Avoid Fragrances, artificial dyes, coconut oil or butter which can clog pores and cause breakouts. Choose non-comedogenic or non-acnegenic products if your skin is prone to breakouts.
Use AHA or retinoid products to reduce aging. Retinoids (Vitamin A derivatives) promote cell turnover, stimulate collagen production and help even out skin tone. Peptides help repair skin damage. Antioxidants like Vitamins C and E help fight free radicals (unstable molecules that damage cells).
Moisturise after your shower to trap moisture in your skin. Choose products with hyaluronic acid, ceramides, shea butter and hydrators to lock in the moisture. An anti-aging moisturiser helps to minimise fine lines.
Buy products in dark opaque tubes as ingredients can become unstable and degrade when exposed to air or light. Store them in a cool, dark environment.
Skin Care Regime
The following regime should be used when caring for your skin as you age:
Use a cleanser with a low pH to maintain optimal skin balance. Using a cleanser rather than soap preserves your skin barrier and keeps it resistant to dehydration and damage. Toner isn’t necessary if you use a cleanser with a low pH.
As you age your skin slows down its rejuvenation process. Dead skin cells aren’t replaced as quickly, leading to dull skin and an uneven skin tone. Exfoliation removes the dead skin cells and helps your skin appear clearer. Avoid harsh physical exfoliants such as sugar scrubs and products with beads. Use a chemical exfoliant for maturing skin, with ingredients such as alpha-hydroxy acids (AHA) like glycolic acid and lactic acid. These ingredients will also be in toners, serums and at-home peels. AHAs can fade uneven pigmentation and help hydrate your skin.
Use a Serum
Serums contain a higher concentration of active ingredients than a moisturiser. The best anti-aging ingredients are Vitamin A derivatives known as Retinoids (Retinol, Retinoin and Tazarotene), and Vitamin C. As well as increasing collagen in your skin they act as antioxidants to soak up biological and environmental oxidative stress that builds up to cause aging.
Moisturise your Skin
Aging leads to less sebum, which causes dryness and fine lines. Look for a moisturiser with water-binding humectants like glycerine and hyaluronic acid, and an occlusive like petrolatum and mineral oil to prevent water from evaporating.
Protect Your Skin from the Sun
Apply a broad spectrum sunscreen SPF 30+ to all exposed skin. Wear a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, long sleeved shirt and long pants where possible. Seek shade between 10a.m. and 2p.m. Daily sunscreen use can fade age spots, improve skin texture and flatten wrinkles by 20%. It allows the skin to take a break from harmful UV rays, and rejuvenate.
Avoid Trauma to Your Skin
Take into account that older skin is more fragile when caring for your skin as you age. Avoid strong tugging and rubbing as you wash your face and apply skin care products.
See a beautician for a taylored skincare regime if you can afford it. I had a series of facials leading up to my wedding six years ago because my skin had broken out with the onset of menopause. I don’t currently have the funds for a beautician, so I do my own facials at home.
Use a hydrating face mask weekly and you will notice the difference. Using a night cream has also improved my skin noticeably. Make sure you test all new products on a small area of your skin before you start using them.
Caring for your skin as you age should be part of your daily routine in midlife. My recommendations for anti-aging products are in this article. I would love to hear if you have found any great products or routines so please feel free to comment. If you enjoyed this article, you may also enjoy the following:
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