They say that after 50 you relinquish your body and mind from the futile woes and worries of your younger days… How others see us becomes less relevant and how we see ourselves becomes more pressing. Vanity aside, how your skin looks can drastically affect how old you feel. We can all relate to rolling out of bed and looking in the mirror with a groan, tugging at folds of skin.
While the wrinkles and thinning skin are inevitable, there are some common mistakes that we make when it comes to skincare and ageing skin.
How your skin changes as you age
Because your oestrogen levels peak in your 20s, this is probably the best your skin will ever look. But, it can’t last forever. In fact, by your 30s those levels start to dip and the elastin and collagen in your skin become looser and the fat cells start to shrink. Expect less firmness, elasticity and moisture.
Here’s roughly what to expect:
- The dermis and epidermis layers of our skin become thinner, making your skin sag and lose its ‘youthful glow’.
- Some women even experience acne during menopause due to a drop in oestrogen or increase in testosterone levels.
- Sebaceous glands that secrete sebum, an oily substance that lubricates skin and hair, begin to shrink, resulting in drier skin…
- As your skin’s fat starts to atrophy, you will begin to lose volume.
Lovely. But as with many age-related woes, there are ways to slow the change! The trick, when it comes to your skin is to recognise where there’s room for improvement in your routine (or lack of).
Mistakes we make that we should avoid
10% of ageing skin is chalked up to genetics, the rest is environmental, meaning it’s not too late to change. Here are the top bad skincare habits we’ve picked up along the way – and what we should be doing instead.
Ignoring your gut health
As we grow older, we’re often more obsessed with buying all the right skincare products, but not taking care of what’s underneath. "Most people do not link their skin health directly to their digestion," says Philadelphia-based naturopathic physician Dr Tara Nayak. "We know that if we clean up the diet, improve digestion and get the bowels moving, and restore healthy gut bacteria, skin often improves naturally!"
While cleansing is important to help anti-ageing products work better, don’t cleanse more than twice a day and always follow it with a moisturiser. “When your skin is super dry from excessive cleansing, lines become super prominent and makeup cracks. That’s why it is important to keep the skin moist,” says Dr Kiran Sethi, celebrity dermatologist from Isya Aesthetics, Delhi.
Switching out sunscreen for SPF makeup
Your 30 SPF BB Cream is great, but it wasn’t designed for full sun coverage. About 70% of the signs of ageing are from the sun! Make sure you wear your sunblock, no matter the season or whether you are outdoors or inside. “The only time you don't need sunscreen is when you need a flashlight to see," insists Harold Lancer, Beverly Hills dermatologist. Always opt for a broad-spectrum SPF 30 or higher as this means you are protected from both UVA and UVB rays – and don’t rely on make-up that has added SPF. Consider it added coverage, not an alternative.
Exfoliating too much or too little
Annet King, Director of Global Education for Dermalogica and The International Dermal Institute, swears by exfoliating to reduce the signs of ageing in the skin: "Exfoliation helps coax our inner glow back to the surface by removing all that dry, dull debris and revealing the softer, smoother skin underneath." But, it’s important not to over-exfoliate as that can cause inflammation, sensitivity, breakouts, and angry skin – so be gentle.
Using too many products
From snail slime to some unknown ingredient claiming to restore youth and keep you wrinkle free, there are hundreds of products that make us whip out our wallets at the promise of youth. Now your counter is overflowing with twenty serums, lotions etc. that fall into a 12-step routine. Stop. “Be very gentle with your skin,” advises NYC dermatologist Dendy Engelman, MD. “The last thing you want to do is cause injury that requires heroics to repair.” Try to limit the number of products you use on a daily basis. Stick to a consistent routine that works for you and when in doubt, speak to a dermatologist.
What to do instead
Avoiding these mistakes can go a long way in keeping your skin looking better for longer, but it’s important to also take care of your physical health by eating right, drinking plenty of water and exercising, as well as maintaining your mental wellbeing. And, be sure to include these must-haves in your regular skincare routine:
- Gentle cleansing foam
- Eye cream
- Vitamin C serum
- A good moisturiser
- Hydrating serum to lock in moisture
- Sunscreen. Sunscreen. Sunscreen!
- Acid-based exfoliator
- A natural retinol serum
- Overnight face mask
Read our article on how to upgrade your skincare routine next!