Friday 23 August 2019

15 ways to maintain your skin's vitality

Ageing is irrelevant when your skin has radiance and vitality

Take steps to protect your skin, including wearing sunblock
Take steps to protect your skin, including wearing sunblock
Katie Byrne

Katie Byrne

The term 'anti-ageing' is slowly falling out of favour in the beauty industry. US-based magazine Allure recently banned the term from its pages. Meanwhile, there is an emerging trend towards products that promote vitality rather than youth, and a change of shift from 'defying' ageing, to accepting it as a natural process.

In other words, ageing is unavoidable, but that doesn't mean we can't boost radiance and slow down the overall process. Here we have rounded up a group of skincare experts to find out how to have supple skin at every age in life.


"From the late twenties to early thirties onwards, it's great to get a retinol product on board," says Dr Caitriona Ryan, a consultant dermatologist in St Vincent's Hospital, Dublin. "It's really one of the only things that is proven to help produce collagen. The biggest complaint from people is that it makes the skin too dry. So I always tell my patients to start with just a quarter of a pea size amount on their forehead and cheeks, but not around the drier areas of the nose and mouth. Start applying it every third night, then move to every second night, as the skin gets used to it. I think people believe retinol works by shedding off layers of skin, but that's just a side-effect. It actually works by normalising the way our skin operates."

Retinol can be bought over-the-counter in a variety of active products. The stronger version, tretinoin, requires a prescription. (Do not use retinol products if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.)


According to physician Dr Andrew Weil, retinol products are the only at-home solution for fading the age spots that appear on the back of the hands as we age. "But bear in mind that these drugs increase the skin's sensitivity to the sun, so that once you begin to use them, you'll have to apply sunscreen daily in order to avoid burning," he adds.

For a quicker result, try IPL (Intense Pulsed Light) in a reputable clinic. One session costs between €150 and €250.


Joanne Reilly of award-winning natural beauty company Kinvara advises against harsh alcohol-based toners, which can leave the skin dry and irritated. "At Kinvara, we firmly believe that you need to look for products that work with your skin, not against it, and toners with alcohol are working against your skin, stripping your skin of its own oils while encouraging your skin to make more oil as a result. It can be a destructive cycle - so skip toner with alcohol and look for floral waters as a gentle but effective alternative."

Kinvara fans will be glad to hear that the brand have one in the pipeline.


"Facial yoga is a growing trend that can help you to grow old gracefully," explains Dublin-based yoga teacher, Lydia Sasse (@yogawithlydia). "Unlike the muscles on the rest of our body, the facial muscles are attached directly to the skin, which means that when they begin to sag, the skin on the face is dragged down with them. These three simple exercises will help to plump and tone the muscles and skin of the cheeks, and boost circulation, elastin and collagen, which promotes that sought-after 'youthful glow'."

* THE SATCHMO - Take a large inhale and puff up both cheeks until they are full of air. Then rapidly transfer the air from one cheek to the other for 30 seconds whilst keeping the brow relaxed.

* THE CHEEK PAT -Take a large inhale and puff up both cheeks until they are full of air. Holding the cheeks to full capacity, rapidly pat each cheek with the palms of your hands for 30 seconds.

* THE X AND O - Repeat the letters X and O in an exaggerated fashion, out loud, for thirty seconds. This will force the muscles of your cheeks to contract and relax repeatedly.

Repeat this whole sequence 3 times every other day to see results.

For a video demonstrating these techniques, check out:


Less is more when it comes to choosing a foundation for ageing skin, says Anna Priadka, Global Artist for make-up brand Nars: "A healthy glow to the complexion is very important as we age as skin can loose its sparkle," she says. "Use formulas that are hydrating and give your skin a glow. Team this with a sheer coverage, such as a tinted moisturiser, and if you need additional coverage, go for a concealer and just spot-conceal in areas you need it. The same rule applies for powder: only use it where needed and carry a face spray to hydrate and freshen up your skin throughout the day. It's amazing how much more youthful they make your skin look."


Sleep deprivation can wreak havoc on skin, leading to dark circles, delayed wound healing and accelerated ageing, as well as the exacerbation of skin disorders like eczema and rosacea. The most regenerative sleep, for the vast majority of people, occurs during 10pm and 2am, which is when the body produces the most HGH, a hormone that promotes healing and skin repair. So if you can't stay in bed for longer, try to optimise your beauty sleep by getting under the covers earlier.


LA-based dermatologist Dr Harold Lancer, whose clients include Victoria Beckham and Eva Longoria, suggests changing up your sleep position to stop deeply-etched lines from forming. "When you sleep in the same position every night, your cheek, jawline, and neck are pushed against the pillow, causing your skin to be folded or creased for several hours," he explains. "Over the years, those folds become etched into your skin to form sleep lines." His advice: alternate the side you sleep on, or better yet, sleep on your back.


For firmer, plumper-looking skin, Dr Sara Gottfried, the author of Younger: A Breakthrough Program to Reset Your Genes, Reverse Aging, and Turn Back the Clock 10 Years, swears by an oral supplement of hydrolyzed collagen. She mixes 2.5 to 5g of it into a 'collagen latte' every morning and cites research that says the supplement can dramatically improve skin elasticity in eight weeks.

The easier, and less expensive way, to boost collagen production is simply to eat more protein. Gottfried advises 80-120g of lean animal or plant protein at each meal - alongside slow carbs like sweet potatoes to "decrease inflammation and glycation".


Naturopathic doctor and author of Younger Skin Starts in the Gut, Nigma Talib, thinks of the gut as an "inside skin". "I don't believe that tackling ageing or getting perfect skin is related solely to what you put on the outside of your body," she says. "It is also about what you put inside your body, as deep down inside the gut is where real ageing begins." Talib, whose clients include Penelope Cruz and Rosie Huntingdon-Whiteley, believes that a gut-friendly diet is more powerful than any skincare product, and she advises those with persistent skin conditions to identify the trigger with an elimination diet. Cut out gluten, dairy, sugar and alcohol (yes, really) before slowly reintroducing each food group and ascertaining how it affects your skin.


Dr Caitriona Ryan describes sunblock as the "cornerstone of a skincare regime". "If there is only one thing you do in terms of skincare," she says, "it should be wearing sunblock every day. People in Ireland don't realise how much cumulative damage they get from even going for a walk and driving in and out of work. It's not the holiday to Spain that does it: it's the day-to-day stuff, especially on face, neck and hands."


Dublin-based consultant dermatologist Dr Rosemary Coleman points out that most people forget to protect their neck and chest from UV rays, and usually only start applying a sun block to this area 10-15 years after they start using it on their face. She also advises against applying perfume to the neck to prevent "unsightly pigmentation".


Dr Mehmet Oz, writing in his latest book, Food Can Fix It, describes green tea as a powerful antioxidant that can protect the skin from damage. "Women who drank it regularly for three months experienced 25pc less damage when exposed to UV rays," he writes. According to a study in the Journal of Nutrition, green tea contains a catechism called EGCG, an antioxidant believed to promote good skin health by protecting against sun damage but, adds Dr Oz, you'll still need to wear sunscreen.


The menopause and perimenopause can lead to dry, itchy skin, which is why nutritionist Dr Marilyn Glenville advises menopausal women to add more essential fatty acids - found in nuts, seeds, oily fish and eggs - to their diet to keep their skin, hair and joints lubricated and soft. For a more targeted approach, try the salmon-rich Perricone Diet, which combines skin rejuvenation with weight-loss benefits.


Most acne sufferers are familiar with the stress hormone cortisol, and how elevated levels of it can exacerbate blemished skin. Less is written about the effects of cortisol on other skin types, especially skin that has already lost elasticity due to the ageing process. Chronically high levels of cortisol can damage collagen and elastin and hinder the body's ability to hold on to water - leading to dark circles, sunken cheeks and dryness. So when the going gets tough, try to offset the effects of cortisol by incorporating stress-relieving practices like breathing exercises, meditation and yoga into your daily routine.


Jennifer Rock, aka The Skin Nerd (@theskinnerd ire) recommends products containing Vitamin C to make ageing skin look "plumper, firmer and brighter". "Vitamin C, in its role as an antioxidant, works to neutralise free radicals, protecting the skin," she explains. "Ascorbic acid is the queen bee of vitamin C but in products that contain it, it loses its effectiveness within ten days of being opened. Opt for products that include high levels of vitamin C instead. Skincare containing vitamin C is also ideal for redness, pigmentation and dull and lethargic winter skin."

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