Skin serves a multitude of functions; antimicrobial, antibacterial as well as permeability. It acts as the body's first line of defense against allergens, pathogens, UV, loss of water, chemical penetration, etc. In short, our skin is under a constant onslaught from environmental aggressors, all of which directly contribute to the production of free radicals and oxidation, leading to premature aging. But that's not all. Many of us add insult to injury by layering more harmful chemicals and adopting harsh skincare routines that contribute to faster aging, and causing unnecessary skin diseases and sensitivity. A few examples are the use of cleansers containing SLS, physical exfoliants, overuse of chemical exfoliants, retinols, chemical sunscreens and preservatives.
All of the above-mentioned practices directly contribute to an impaired lipid barrier function. The lipid barrier is the invisible layer that protects the epidermis (top skin layer). It is comprised of Ceramides, Fatty Acids and Cholesterol; all of which can be easily depleted by taking hot showers, using soap daily and adopting the bad habits previously discussed.
Repairing the lipid barrier, however, isn't such a simple process. It takes a lot of time, patience, paying close attention to diet and consistent use of the right topicals. The moral of the story here is that prevention is the best strategy when it comes to skin aging.
How to prevent premature aging?
1- Leave your skin alone: The most crucial step is to forgo the mindset that's been ingrained in our brains that exfoliation leads to faster cellular turnover, hence wrinkle-free skin. Exfoliation does not promote cellular turnover, rather it removes the dead cells revealing the healthy (live) cells. That's it!!! So, if you effectively exfoliate using a good quality enzymatic, AHA or BHA exfoliant; there isn't a need to use those ingredients in any of your products for at least a week or two, if not more. A good rule of thumb is to visibly see or feel surface texture before reaching for your chemical/enzymatic exfoliant.
As far as physical, I strongly feel these should be banned. There is no worse aggressor on the skin than particles scratching it over and over again.
2- Wear a Mineral Zinc Oxide Sunscreen SPF30: This is crucial to protecting the skin from UVA and UVB damage. Read more on this topic in our blog titled: Everything You Need To Know About Sunscreen, Chemical, Mineral and Everything In Between.
3- Use clean skincare: I still can't wrap my head around the resistance to better ingredients. There are so many great options today that are so much better for you and your health, while being budget friendly and even less expensive than toxin-rich mainstream skincare. I guess there is still this false notion that natural ingredients don't work. Please hear this from a beauty industry insider of over 20 years. That notion has been ingrained in your brain by marketing adds and sales people desperate to make their commissions, justifying the high price points for needlessly expensive products made up of synthetics and parabens, where the jar often costs more than the formulation inside.
Ensure your skincare routine includes essential ingredients such us:
- Water: I love water sprays such as Graydon Skin Food Mineral Mist, Taïla Vayu Illuminating Toning Mist or Arcana Sulis Mineral Replenish Mist. I saturate the skin prior to skincare application.
- Oil: You want to look for plant oils, not so much essential/fragrance oils (some are ok in low concentrations). Some of my favorites are Olive, Plum, Hibiscus, Pomegranate seed, Tea Seed, Avocado, Rosehip, Jojoba and Melon. You really can't go wrong with any of these if they are in a good quality formulation. The Beauty Doctrine has an amazing selection.
- Hyaluronic Acid: This is crucial to age prevention as it is the best molecule for maintaining hydration in the skin which is essential to age-prevention. Hyaluronic Acid can work against you if used incorrectly, so make sure to check out this blog dedicated to this very special ingredient; Why Hyaluronic Acid may Dry Out Your Skin.
- Antioxidants such as Vitamin E, Polyphenols, Green Tea. These are often overlooked when consumers are searching for skincare, but they are instrumental in protecting the skin and fighting free radical damage which is the main culprit in skin aging.
- Minerals: Often forgotten, but are paramount in skin health, regulating melanin, managing sensitivity and collagen synthesis. The first ones that come to mind are Copper, Selenium, Zinc and Magnesium.
- Amino Acids: like Proline, Lysine and Arginine are building blocks of Collagen, maintaining skin density, elasticity and wound healing.
- Ceramides: If sensitive or have a compromised lipid barrier, Ceramides are your best friend.
4- Massage your skin daily whenever you apply skincare. This is integral to nutrient absorption and smoothing out the facial muscles reducing lines and wrinkles. Always move in upward and outward motions starting at the center points fo the face (chin, nose and between the eyebrows).
How to correct signs of aging and help reverse them?
- Use all the preventative measures mentioned as they will help do a lot of the age reversal as well.
- Reactivate your Hyaluronic Acid serum throughout the day to maintain skin plumpness.
- Include a peptide-rich serum in your routine day and night.
- Use a rich night cream with glycerin to prevent dermal water loss.
- Use an at-home LED masque, daily, with Red light to promote collagen synthesis.
- Get Collagen Induction Therapy at a practitioner's office 4-6 time a year. Make sure to request the Micro-needling pen (not roller) for best results and even collagen distribution.
- Eat a healthy diet designed to promote collagen and elastin regeneration in the skin. Please refer to this blog for all things Collagen.
- De-stress and get plenty of sleep: Science has proven that your body repairs and regenerates overnight. So if you don't allow regeneration time during deep sleep, you are missing out on major age-reversal opportunities.
Be well. Be safe. Be beautiful!