The skin is the largest organ in the body - it regulates temperature, protects our delicate insides from the elements and even sheds waste through the pores. It is inevitable that it tends to show our age.
Skin is basically made of very thin layers of tissue called the dermis and epidermis. The epidermis is the 'raincoat' that acts as a waterproof layer for the whole body. The dermis is the thicker layer underneath that gives our skin its 'bounce' and strength.
The skin, like any living tissue, needs to be fed, cleaned, maintained and protected. Keeping the skin young involves ensuring that all these needs are met. The occasional pampering with spas, scrubs and masks also help.
1. Feed your skin
Fresh fruit and vegetables are good for the skin. These are high in vitamins and antioxidants that keeps the skin elastic and smooth. Also remember to hydrate. Your skin needs water to keep it supple and hydration starts from within. Drink at least eight glasses of plain water daily to keep your skin looking its best.
2. Use sunscreen
Want to keep skin young? The ultraviolet rays in sunlight are the number one 'killers' of good skin. Premature skin ageing can be brought on by exposure to the sun. Called photoaging, this ageing of the skin due to exposure to the sun can cause wrinkles, discolouration and an unsightly leathery appearance. Ultraviolet radiation can damage the deep layers of the skin, killing the cells. Eventually, the skin can no longer repair itself. Sunlight also breaks down elastin and collagen and retards the production of new collagen.
3. Quit puffing
Smoking is the second leading cause of premature skin ageing. The chemicals in cigarettes accelerate aging. In fact, someone who smokes 10 or more cigarettes a day for 1 year is more prone to develop deeply wrinkled, leathery skin than a non-smoker. Not only this, but smokers tend to have an unsightly yellowish hue in their complexion.
4. Gently does it
The skin may seem infinitely elastic, but long term exposure to tugging, pulling and pinching can age skin and even cause scars. Always be gentle when applying lotions and creams, especially around the eyes, lips and neck, where skin is especially thin. These are also the first areas to show signs of ageing. Instead of harsh cleansers and toners, opt for gentle formulas whenever you can.
5. Customise your skincare
Just because it works for a friend or celebrity does not mean a skincare product will work for you. Look for something that suits your own needs and budget.
6. Keep the moisture in
Dry skin is more prone to wrinkles and environmental damage. Look for a moisturiser or serum that keeps your skin feeling soft and supple. Even oily skins need moisturising! Opt for water-based formulations if you find your skin looking greasy by the end of the day.
7. Keep skin clean
Use a gentle facial wash daily to remove buildup of sebum and dirt. Never sleep with makeup on as it clogs pores. Scrub your skin gently once a week to slough off dead cells that can make skin look dull.
8. Cut out sugar
New research suggests a high intake of sugar can speed up premature ageing of the skin. This is because sugar binds with skin proteins such as elastin and collagen and causes them to die faster.
9. Sleep on your back
If you sleep on your side or stomach, your beauty sleep could be giving you wrinkles. 'Sleep lines' are wrinkles that form from sleeping in the same way every night. The pressure of your face on the pillow can result in permanent lines.
Sleeping positions aside, sleep is one of the best things you can do to keep skin young. It lowers stress levels and even helps the skin to maintain its ability to stay hydrated and supple.