You may be 20 years old, but your skin could be 40. A recent survey on skin age has revealed that the age of the skin is not the same as the person’s chronological age. While real age is measured by years from birth, skin age is measured by the loss of elastin in the dermis and arteries. What causes skin to age faster than it should?
Experts point fingers at lifestyle choices. Diet, exercise, alcohol consumption, smoking and sun exposure could decide how soon the skin develops wrinkles and dark spots. These factors could also decide the rate at which skin dries.
The multi-ethnic survey carried out by skin care brand Olay also finds that Indian skin particularly that of Indian women, loses more moisture every day than women of other ethnicities. The survey rates Indian skin as the most delicate and therefore most challenged by environmental factors such as exposure to ultraviolet rays and pollution.
Indian female skin also develops deeper wrinkles and accumulates wrinkles at twice the rate of other ethnic skin types, especially in the 30 to 50 age group. Deep wrinkles accelerate from the age of 40, the study says.
However, by following certain simple techniques, one can protect the skin from severe damage. Skin care scientist Frauke Neuser says though ageing cannot be reversed, several measures could be adopted to delay it or reduce the rate at which it happens. Any good skin care regimen has three critical elements to it - cleansing, moisturisation and protection from the sun, she says.
“Within each of those categories, there are many choices women have today and I believe personal preferences should determine which specific products you use —as long as you use them regularly. Daily sun-protection, yet still underestimated, is very important. The minimum protection should be an SPF15,” she says.
Consultant cosmetic dermatologist Dr. Nandini Nair says, among young professionals, smoking, alcohol, nutritional deficiencies, exposure to toxic chemicals or pollutants, lack of exercise, lack of adequate sleep and sitting for long hours in front of the computer are the main factors that lead to skin ageing.
Prolonged exposure to sunlight is another major factor.
Nandini recommends drinking eight to ten glasses of water a day, ensuring 6 to 7 hours of sleep, regular use of sunscreen, moisturisation, avoiding stress and adopting a daily exercise regimen to keep skin looking youthful.
Flawless skin is generally associated to rosy health and any sudden change in the texture or tone of it should not be ignored, Nandini warns. “Skin is a mirror of the body. Any systemic disease is reflected on the skin first. So any unnatural change in the skin’s texture and tone should be taken seriously,” she says. One has to understand the transformation skin undergoes as it ages in detail, so that methods best suited to oneself can be adopted to retain a youthful skin, advises Neuser. “Skin discoloration, just like age spots and wrinkles, are to a large extent caused by UV exposure and the best protection is to avoid direct sun and using daily moisturisers with SPF at all times. Using skin care products containing the ingredient niacinamide helps to accelerate the cell renewal on the skin’s surface, so that excess pigmentation is regularly removed,” she adds.
However, experts unanimously caution against reckless choice of cosmetics. One of the most common skin problems among young women in India is cosmetic-induced acne.
“Do not go in for make-up products that are cheap and avoid mindless skin procedures. While choosing cosmetics always go for a reputed brand. Check for allergies and if you feel there is any kind of a reaction to the product, discontinue it immediately,” Nandini says.