You Need Skin Care Every Day
Most dermatologists will tell you the key to keeping your skin looking youthful is protecting it against the environment. Between 80 to 90% of the changes that happen to your skin as you grow older are from exposure to the sun and toxins in the environment. Dermatologists call this extrinsic ageing. The other 10 to 20% of the age-related changes are intrinsic, meaning they're a direct result of the ageing process and you can't really prevent them. But 80 to 90% is still pretty good!
The next question is what can you do to protect your skin against environmental assault? At a minimum, two products should be in your anti-ageing arsenal - sunscreen and Moisturiser. Sunscreen is the "big gun" and a must-have because it shields your skin against the damage that leads to premature ageing.
Moisturiser improves the way your skin looks and feels and, depending upon the ingredients added to it, may or may not have direct anti-ageing benefits. At the very least, a good Moisturiser will replace the moisture your skin loses, especially as you age. Some Moisturisers have additional ingredients like glycolic acid or retinol that can soften fine lines and wrinkles and even out skin texture and colour over time.
Why Sunscreen is Essential
Here's the reality. The sun's rays can damage the health of your skin even on a cloudy day. Why is sunlight so damaging? The ultraviolet rays are powerful enough to destroy collagen and elastin, two proteins that give your skin support and make it more resistant to wrinkling.
Collagen is the major support protein and lies in the deeper layer of your skin called the dermis. Without the support of collagen, your skin becomes lax, what we think of as sagging, and lines and wrinkles form. Elastin is the protein that gives your skin the ability to "bounce back" when you stretch it. It, too, keeps your skin looking youthful.
By shielding your skin from the sun with a sunscreen every day, you reduce damage to collagen and elastin. Plus, unprotected sun exposure can lead to sunspots and areas of increased pigmentation that make your skin look mottled and uneven. Sunscreen is your best defense.
Choose a sunscreen with an SPF (sun protection factor) of at least 30 that offers broad-spectrum protection. Ultraviolet light comes in two forms - UV-A and UV-B. Both are damaging to your skin but in different ways. UV-B causes sunburn, but UV-A penetrates deeply and is ultimately more damaging to your skin. Look for one that's water resistant, especially in the summer. Be sure to wear the sunscreen you choose every day.
Basic Moisturisers simply coat the outer layer of our skin with a thin film that reduces moisture loss. Ingredients in some Moisturisers, called humectants, draw water from the environment onto your skin. Because humectants draw in water, they slightly plump up the outer layer of your skin and make fine lines less apparent. Moisturising is important for everyone, regardless of age or skin type, although the type of Moisturiser you select should depend on your skin type.
If you have oil or acne-prone skin, look for a Moisturiser that contains no added oils and is non-comedogenic, meaning it doesn't contain ingredients that will clog your pores. Lightweight Moisturisers are best. In contrast, dry or more mature skin can benefit from a heavier Moisturiser, possibly with the addition of other ingredients that help in the battle against skin ageing.
Other Ingredients in Moisturisers
Remember, a basic Moisturiser only reduces moisture loss and doesn't have true anti-ageing effects, although it may make fine lines look less pronounced by volumising the skin. As mentioned, more advanced ingredients, like glycolic acid and retinols, in anti-ageing Moisturisers and skin care products do have anti-ageing properties. They not only improve the appearance of mature skin but can stimulate collagen production as well.
Glycolic acid, being a weak acid, lifts away the outer layer of skin cells that makes your skin look dull and lackluster, so, over time, your skin has a softer, smoother texture. Plus, it as well as retinol, helps lighten areas of increased pigmentation due to sun exposure.
Some Moisturisers contain other added ingredients, including antioxidants and vitamins. Antioxidants and antioxidant vitamins, such as vitamin C and E, may offer some protect against skin ageing since the sun damages your skin partially by causing the formation of free radicals but they aren't a substitute for wearing a sunscreen.
The Bottom Line
Now, you know the "basics" that you need for keeping your skin looking its best.