Let’s talk ageing for a moment. We know – we feel it too. Children, as wonderful as they are, will age you...
And the older we get, the more curious we are about ageing and how we can do it gracefully (this is The Grace Tales, after all). So asked a skin guru who has over 20 years experience in the field to give us the lowdown. Here’s what Sydney-based clinical skin specialist Douglas Pereira had to say.
What are the biggest causes of ageing?
Many things cause our skin to age. Some things we cannot do anything about; others we can influence. One thing that we cannot change is the natural ageing process. It plays a key role. With time, we all get visible lines on our face and reduced facial volume. It is natural for our face to lose some of its youthful fullness. We notice our skin becoming thinner and drier. Our genes largely control when these changes occur. The medical term for this type of ageing is “intrinsic ageing.” We can influence another type of ageing that affects our skin. Our environment and lifestyle choices can cause our skin to age prematurely. The medical term for this type of ageing is “extrinsic ageing.” By taking some preventive actions, we can slow the effects that this type of ageing has on our skin.
There are five key causes of skin ageing:
Represents 75% of the skin’s dry weight. The quantity and quality play a major role in the skin’s appearance. Slowing down the breakdown and degradation of collagen fibres is vital to skin youth.
Repeated exposure to ultraviolet light (UV radiation) from the sun accounts for almost 90% of symptoms of premature skin ageing, skin damage and skin cancer. The sun is carcinogenic and harmful to the skin. Just a few minutes of sun exposure each day over the years can cause noticeable changes to the skin. “Photo ageing occurs over a period of years. With more and more exposure to the sun, something very significant happens. The skin never forgets, just like an elephant. And with each insult, it loses its ability to repair itself, and damage accumulates. Scientific studies have shown that repeated ultraviolet (UV) exposure breaks down collagen and impairs the synthesis of new collagen. The sun also attacks our elastin. Sun-weakened skin ceases to spring back much earlier than skin protected from UV rays. Skin also becomes loose, wrinkled, and leathery much earlier with unprotected exposure to sunlight.” This process will also multiply and increase the size of wrinkles.
This process starts with free radicals which are highly reactive small molecules that can damage virtually any molecule in the body, including the important cellular structures found in the body’s largest organ – the skin. This kind of free radical damage leads to even more free radicals which create havoc in every layer of the skin hypodermis, dermis and epidermis. Our bodies have been built with internal antioxidants, but they are not enough to protect our skins from irreversible breakdown.
This is the skin’s first line of defence against foreign invaders such as bacteria and viruses. Inflammation also initiates the tissue healing process and limits the damage to skin cells caused by everyday chemicals and pollutants. Whilst it is helpful in the short term, excessive (chronic) inflammation is one of the most common themes in early-onset skin ageing. Subtle signs include skin sensitivity, redness and irritation.
Sad to say sugar does make you age faster. Glycation causes the skin’s proteins (like collagen and elastin) to lose their ability to function normally and is now well recognised and heavily implicated in accelerated skin ageing. Glycation occurs when excess bodily glucose molecules link to the skin’s collagen and elastin fibres. This cross-linking can form chemical bridges between proteins. Glycated fibres can become rigid, less elastic and have reduced regenerative ability which can lead to damage such as laxity, cracking and thinning skin.
What do women get wrong when it comes to their skin care regime?
The main misconception women get in the arena of skin and anti-ageing is with the mass of skincare and anti-ageing products in the marketplace. So many of the big brand cosmetic product make claims of preventing and reversing the signs of ageing, yet the product they develop simply clean and moisturise the skin and in no way hold up the claims made. Most of these products are within the cosmetic categories and available in department stores, pharmacies and salons.
These types of products a splashed all over the magazines and television advertising and offering unachievable results with weak cosmetic formulations and minimal active ingredients that can penetrate the skin to improve the skin’s health and wellbeing.
For example, cosmetic companies promote collagen as being an ‘active’ ingredient in many cosmetic and cosmeceutical products when it will never penetrate the skin. From a scientific perspective, any peptide over 10 amino acids is too large to penetrate the skin. Collagen, for example, is a complex protein of around 1000 amino acids. It’s like forcing a football through the eye of a needle!
I recommend using Niacinamide, retinol or new small peptide ingredients that trigger your skin cells to produce its own collagen and that will work to reduce the destruction of collagen.
What is it about your approach that is able to transform challenged skin?
Using a combination of state of the art medical grade equipment, and my own exclusive range of cosmeceutical products, active ingredients, and my many years of knowledge about the skin, I take a customised approach to treating each person’s skin individually. My approach is based on the current condition of the skin; my client’s skin goals and the performance of their skins functions. From here, I assess the best solutions for my client’s skin and personalise a single treatment or design a plan to achieve your skin goals, for healthy, beautiful skin. By taking this very prescribed and customised approach I can adapt the products, equipment and methods used in each treatment to target my client’s skin challenges and concerns to achieve the best results possible.
What specifically do you prescribe for signs of ageing?
The key to prevention and intervention of the signs of ageing is the right products and active ingredients used in treatments or homecare product. My recommended ingredients to use in professional treatment and cosmeceutical or mediceuticals products are:
Niacinamide is a derivative of Vitamin B3 that suppresses melanin from reaching the surface of the skin and protects the skin from further UV damage. Too much melanin (which is a naturally occurring substance in the body that is responsible for both its colour the skin’s absorption of UV rays) can result in age spots, freckles, and hyper-pigmentation. According to a study done by Proctor and Gamble, data revealed that 5% Niacinamide applied to the face for 12 weeks resulted in reductions of fine lines and wrinkles, hyperpigmented spots, red blotchiness, and skin sallowness (yellowing). In addition, elasticity was improved.
Retinaldehydeis Vitamin A in its whole molecule form, which can be broken down into thousands of smaller components, including Retinoic Acid (or Tretinoin, the active ingredient in Renova and Retin-A). It belongs to the family of chemical compounds known as retinoids and is one of the most important vitamins for the appearance of the skin because of its small molecular structures. These tiny molecules have the ability to penetrate the outer layers of the skin and work to repair the lower layers where collagen and elastin reside, Vitamin A is thought to renew and regenerate skin cells and stimulate new collagen production; to have antioxidant properties; and to serve as a skin exfoliator, unclogging pores and effectively treating and preventing acne, and the signs of ageing.
Epidermal growth factors
Epidermal growth factors are a family of several proteins naturally present in the body. They are a key component of the cell growth and regeneration process. On a daily basis, they are responsible for triggering the regeneration of microvascular networks and improve wound healing by initiating the synthesis of collagen, elastin and hyaluronic acid. EGF considerably increases skin cell regeneration. More precisely, they will directly communicate with the skin cells to produce more collagen and elastin. Currently, it is the most powerful known active ingredient to induce such stimulation effect. This is why; EGF treatments and products can reverse ageing signs and restore collagen to levels only observed in young persons.
The bane of any woman’s existence are fine lines and wrinkles, and Vitamin C will work to promote collagen production. But rather than give into the abyss of ageing, the regular use of vitamin C products can combat their very appearance because of their concentrated levels of antioxidant-rich vitamin C, which helps boost collagen production, filling in fine lines and wrinkles. As a result, you may find that you have more youthful looking skin
Protects skin from sun damage, in addition to its anti-ageing benefits, topical vitamin C is also great for protecting your skin from damage — especially from the sun’s UVA and UVB rays. That’s because vitamin C is an antioxidant, so it naturally helps to strengthen your skin and repel things that could damage it.
Vitamin C has also been found to help even out skin tone and reduce the appearance of under-eye circles. This is great for those who are tired of trying to conceal the dark circles under their eyes and want to enjoy a more youthful, bright, and vibrant appearance. Studies have also found that high levels of Vitamin C can help to speed up the body’s natural healing processes. This makes it ideal for use on the face as it can help to heal small cuts, acne scars, and other blemishes more quickly and effectively.
Reduces skin discolouration. If you suffer from skin redness or other discolouration of the skin, then a quality vitamin C serum may also be able to help you achieve a more uniform skin tone and better complexion. Specifically, vitamin C is great for reducing embarrassing redness. With just a few uses, you may find that you have a more even skin tone. No matter what your age, it’s always a good idea to be pre-emptive about avoiding wrinkles, sagging skin, fine lines, and other signs of ageing. Vitamin C can help your skin look younger for longer, not only by stimulating collagen production but by evening out your skin tone and brightening your complexion as well.
In addition to improving your skin’s overall complexion, vitamin C can brighten otherwise dull skin, allowing it to look healthier and more vibrant. Strong concentrations of this vitamin leave the skin looking and feeling replenished and revitalised.
It has also been found that vitamin C, in high enough concentrations, has inflammation-reducing qualities. This is ideal for people who tend to wake up in the morning with unsightly puffiness around the eyes or other areas of the skin/face. A little bit of vitamin C serum can go a long way here.
What are the biggest factors for poor skin?
1. Not wearing sun protection.
2. Hormonal imbalances.
3. Not using the correct or good quality cosmeceutical or mediceutical products.
What should a woman in her 20s, 30s and 40s do to care for her skin?
20s: Use a good quality sun protection, a serum that contains a minimum of 10% Niacinamide and an antioxidant serum. Start having skin treatment every one to two months. And minimise sun exposure.
30s: Use a good quality sun protection, a serum that contains a minimum of 10% Niacinamide and an antioxidant serum and now introduce serums that contain vitamin A and growth factors and introduce a lipid-based serum or booster. Increase skin treatment to monthly. And still minimise sun exposure. It’s also a good time to consider muscle relaxants (Botox) as a preventative.
40s: Use a good quality sun protection, a serum that contains a minimum of 10% Niacinamide and an antioxidant serum and now increase the percentage of vitamin A, growth factors serum and in the late forties changing your moisturiser to something richer in nutrients and lipids to combat the pre-menopausal symptoms of the skin. Increase skin treatment every three weeks or monthly. And still minimise sun exposure. Introducing dermal fillers to combat a loss of facial volume is also recommended.
What diet modification or supplements do you recommend for improved skin?
Eating clean and organic is always going to support healthy skin, reducing or cutting out sugars and processed foods. Focusing on a good gut health will not only promote a healthy body and reduce inflammation but will also provide you with a healthy glowing skin. Using products such as The Beauty Chef probiotics is a great starting point to achieving good gut health, but I also recommend seeing a good naturopath to advise you on the correct supplements to support body and skin health.