We all want to know. What’s the most effective anti ageing products? What’s the holy grail of the beauty industry? Personalised natural skin care? The idea of eternal youth is not new – for millenniums people have been searching for the Fountain of Youth and the Philosopher’s stone. No one (apart from Harry Potter) has found it yet. But what we have found are the mechanisms behind ageing and how we can slow them down. Ageing is a complex process. There’re numerous reactions involved and we’ve just starting to understand it. What we do know is that ageing can be divided into two categories intrinsic ageing and extrinsic ageing.
Extrinsic ageing is caused by external factors, such as lifestyle and the environment you live in. The main factor here is the sun. The sun’s radiation speeds up the ageing process of your skin, so it is important to always use an effective sunblock (yes even on grey, dark winter days.)
Pollution is another factor that can speed up the ageing of your skin. The air is filled of highly reactive particles called ROS, (reactive oxygen species). The more polluted the air is the more damaging particles there are. ROS particles create a chain reaction in your skin and accelerate ageing. The reaction is even more forceful if you combine it with sun. The solution is antioxidants. Antioxidants, such as vitamin E, vitamin C and q10, are molecules that neutralize the reactive particles and protect your skin.
Finally your lifestyle will also affect the appearance of your skin. It’s well established that smoking is bad for you, your heart, your lungs and your skin. But have you though about your diet? Recent research shows that sugar and a high carb diet also speed up the ageing process. Therefore by replacing sugary foods with greens is a good idea if you want to look young.
The other type of aging is intrinsic ageing, which is caused by internal factors, such as your genes and the reactions in your body. One example is the production of collagen that declines with age, which is mainly caused by intrinsic ageing. It’s more difficult to control the intrinsic ageing and this is where beauty products and their active ingredient come in to play. Some ingredients are well proved to work, others show ambiguous results.
Retinol and variations of vitamin A is one group of molecules that are well proven. These molecules are effective antioxidants and slow down the deterioration of collagen and expedite your skin’s rejuvenation process. They also have the ability to retain water, which reduces the appearance of fine line and wrinkles. It’s important to remember there several variations of vitamin A; all of which have different effects on the skin.
Another popular group of ingredients is peptides. Peptides consist of the same building blocks (amino acids) as proteins, however peptides are smaller and thus have a better chance of penetrating the skin. More and more peptides are used in skin care since they slow down the breakdown of collagen. Also research suggests that certain peptides can increase the blood flow to the skin, which is an important factor for keeping the skin healthy. Finally, some imply that peptides can boost cell regeneration. Key to remember here is that there are numerous different kinds of peptides and all interact differently with your skin.
The bottom line is ageing caused by a complex network of internal reactions and a number of external factors and there is no philosopher’s stone to prevent it or fountain to bathe in. You can (potentially) minimise the effects by working on all fronts, staying healthy and to use a mix of well-proven ingredients in your skin care routine.