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Updated: October 20, 2012 09:34 IST

Keep that glow

DR. UMA SINGH
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Is that a wrinkle on my face?
Special Arrangement Is that a wrinkle on my face?

Wondering how to retain that flawless skin as you age? Here are a few tips.

Every woman dreams of having flawless skin, no matter what her age. There is no secret to eternal youth; but there is a secret to looking young. Not that teenage, school girl looks will last forever; but one’s skin can stay healthy, young and beautiful. depending on age-appropriate care.

The needs of a girl in her twenties and an older woman in her thirties or forties are very different. Use of the right skincare products at the right time and support for the skin’s natural functions will help slow the rate at which skin ages. Some older women have a nothing-can-be-done-now attitude to skincare. Remember, it is never too early or too late to care for one’s skin.

Various environmental factors have a significant impact on ageing like increase of free radicals, a weak immune system, hormone imbalance, sun exposure and pollution. Further, the rate at which the body replaces lost and damaged skin cells decreases as age increases. Between the ages of 25 and 80, there is a significant reduction in the natural acceptance and retention of moisture that keeps skin firm, soft and supple. The skin loses its elasticity and the result is fine lines and wrinkles. Skin elasticity is influenced by elastin, a protein that, together with collagen, makes up the skin’s structure.

In this age of targeted drugs and individualised therapy, the one-size-fits-all approach is far from ideal. The need is for distinct treatment categories delineated by age.

Pre-teen: Till age 12, the skin is soft, smooth and plump with small pores. There aren’t any signs of aging. No special care is required at this stage except for regular hygiene.

Teenage: From 12 to 19 years, due to hormonal surges, various changes occur in the body. Sebaceous (oil) glands become more active, resulting in an oily facial skin. When this happens along with exposure to dust and pollution, skin pores get clogged and lead to varying degrees of acne. At this point, it is best to adopt a cleansing-toning-moisturising regimen so that problems like whiteheads, blackheads and pimples can be avoided. This will also prove beneficial in later years. Use of a suitable sunscreen, with SPF of 15 or more is also a must at this time to avoid damage from the sun.

Twenties: This is the time when the skin has an abundance of collagen and elastin to give the face a firm healthy glow. Some people may suffer from acne. So it is important to cleanse the skin and unclog pores. Choose a mild cleanser suitable for skin type and an alcohol-free skin tonic. A deep pore cleansing clay mask containing ingredients with anti-bacterial (neem, turmeric, tea tree oil) and soothing properties (aloe vera) used once or twice a week will also help. Remember not to overdo since intensive cleansing will stimulate the sebaceous glands and the excess oil will clog the pores. Again sunscreen is essential.

Thirties: By this time, skin cell turnover has slowed. Environmental damage from pollution, smoke and sunlight begin to take their toll and the skin loses its tone and develops fine lines and superficial wrinkles. Establish a daily skincare regime that involves exfoliating (twice or thrice a week), cleansing, moisturising and sun protection. Use non-comedogenic products and choose creams or lotions with anti-oxidants such as Vitamin C, Vitamin E or Beta-Carotene to repair sun-damaged skin. These vitamins counteract free radicals and produce enzymes that stabilise collagen production. During this phase, the key goals are to fight lines on the face and prevent new ones from appearing; prevent loss of collagen and elasticity; and significant sun protection.

Forties: The loss of collagen and elastin contributes to skin thinning. Significant changes in pigmentation result in blotches and age spots on the face, neck, chest, and back of hands. At this point, skincare routine should contain active anti-aging ingredients that work with the natural skin composition to repair its structure. Moisturisers should be rich in emollients to soothe dry skin and rich in vitamins to nourish the skin. Now the key goals are to fight collagen loss and treat fine lines and wrinkles; minimise their appearance around the eyes and mouth; prevent skin dryness, improve skin tone and texture; lighten age spots and prevent appearance of new ones; make your skin glow.

Fifties: At the age of fifty and beyond, oil production decreases after menopause, resulting in significant dryness. The skin appears dull and dark. As cell turnover rate continues to slow, the skin becomes thinner and more prone to wrinkling and drooping. Years of sun exposure or hormonal changes may lead to patchiness or unevenness in skin tone. Continue with products that contain anti-aging ingredients and are rich in emollients. Hydrating face masks and exfoliation treatments help reduce age spots, hyperpigmentation and open skin pores. Use a cream containing rose or jojoba oil, as these contain natural alpha hydroxy acids and help remove dead skin cells.

While aging is inevitable, a good skincare programme, a healthy diet and enough physical exercise will bring benefits in the form of glowing skin. As one’s skin changes over time, it is necessary to evaluate the skincare regimen regularly to ensure that the right products are being used. As far as possible stick to natural products for your daily regimen, as you do not want to introduce unnecessary toxins into your system by using products full of harmful synthetic chemicals.

E-mail: umasingh@ozonegp.com

Keywords: skincaredermatology

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