It’s not just a matter of genetics. Although it’s true that some skins age better than others, genes control only 25% of wrinkling. The other 75% is down to us. In other words, wrinkles reflect our lifestyle. Sun, pollution, smoking, alcohol, drugs, stress and poor nutrition leave indelible marks on the skin. But what can be done to prevent wrinkling?
There is no way around this fact: life marks the skin. As we get older our skin becomes thinner and loses its elasticity, its ability to deal with external aggressions and its ability to stay hydrated. Genes, the force of gravity, lifestyle, hormones and chronic diseases all play a part. Facial expressions that require repeated muscle contractions begin to leave their mark in the form of furrows between the eyebrows and wrinkles around the eyes and mouth. Although there are no miracles, one solution to mitigate wrinkles is botox, which inhibits muscle movements and, therefore, the expression of emotions.
Prevention is better than cure
The conclusion: prevention is better than cure. How? According to the Spanish Academy of Dermatology and Venereology (AEDV),
“...80% it is simply a matter of not smoking and not overdoing exposure to the sun”.
Smoking causes our skin to age an added 2.5 years every 10 years.
And the sun continues to be the most important factor in skin deterioration, because ultraviolet rays break down the collagen that keeps the skin smooth and prevent the synthesis of new collagen.
It is very important to include a photoprotective cream in daily makeup routines. In fact, many moisturizer and makeup brands already include in their formulas the recommended minimum of an SPF of 15.
By the same token, there is no point in replacing the sun with UVA sessions in beauty centres, as this is just, or even more, harmful. Experts say that 15 to 30 minutes of UVA exposure is equivalent to a day in the sun. They also warn that regular UVA sessions before the age of 35 years leads to a 75% increase in the risk of developing melanoma, the most aggressive form of skin cancer.
Skin ageing is, nonetheless, a complex and multifactorial process. Other sources emphasise, for example, that, in addition to using sunscreen, not smoking and avoiding alcohol and other drugs, it is advisable to drink water (but not necessarily as much as the infamous two litres daily), exercise and eat a healthy, balanced, anti-oxidant-rich diet.
Does that mean that you may eat just salads? No, but fruit and vegetables should be included in the daily diet, as our skin needs a sufficient supply of the following:
Beta-carotenes, found in yellow-orange fruits and vegetables and leafy green vegetables, help limit the action of free radicals.
Vitamin A, found in liver, egg yolks and whole milk products, plays an essential role in renewal of the skin and mucous membranes.
Vitamins B9, B2, B5 and B6, found in vegetables, fruits, nuts, cereals, legumes, yeast, meat and offal, fish and seafood, eggs and dairy products, play a role in cell renewal processes.
Vitamin C, which abounds in peppers, kiwi, citrus fruits, melon, strawberries, blackberries, tropical fruits, cabbage and tomatoes, acts as a powerful anti-oxidant and is associated with the production of collagen (which gives the skin elasticity).
Vitamin E, found in vegetable oils and nuts (almonds, walnuts and pistachios), helps reduce cellular oxidation and reduces skin blemishing.
Hydration and sleep
The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), meanwhile, underlines the need to wash the face properly after excessive sweating. Usually it is enough to do so just once a day, using tap water but avoiding alkaline soaps. Do not forget to apply moisturizer daily.
Traditional formulations are equally valid, even if they do not contain anti-oxidants. Often, in the desire to use the latest anti-wrinkle product, we overlook the basic power of hydration, dermatologists insist.
The AAD also highlights the importance of enough sleep and also advise to have your eyes examined and to use reading glasses when necessary. This avoids the wrinkles that develop in the face from eyestrain, especially crow’s feet.
Dermatologists agree that it is also advisable to avoid stress to slow down skin ageing; this is because
“...the skin and nervous system maintain an embryologic connection in adulthood”.
And the maxim “don’t worry, be happy" may help improve the appearance of the skin – or, at the very least, to forget about the wrinkles ...