So far in this series, we have talked about how our skin ages and a few key ingredients to look for in natural “anti-aging” skincare, but it is important to note that your skin type will determine and contribute to both of these things.
If you know your skin well, you can choose the right products to add what you lack and strengthen the areas where your skin is weak. Being targeted in your skincare approach will mean none of your effort is wasted and you don’t spend money on products that don’t work for you.
If your skin is mildly dry it can often feel tight, brittle and rough. You will also be more likely to have thin skin and low elasticity, which can make you more prone to wrinkles. If you have very dry skin, you may have blotchy, scaly or flaky skin that is traumatised by weather, pollution and harsh ingredients.
Most skin gets drier with age, so the most important thing you can do for dry skin is to replenish moisture and help your skin hold onto it. Internally, you can’t go past drinking plenty of fresh water. And externally, you’ll want to look for ingredients that will sink in and protect your skin, not just sit on the surface.
Be-very-ware of products that seem moisturising. Frequent culprits in the ingredient listings to avoid are silicone and mineral oil, as these ingredients “lock moisture in” by forming a seal over the skin. While this may sound great, it’s important to note that they don’t ADD any moisture to the skin, so if you’re putting them onto dry skin, all they’re doing is trapping dirt and impeding the skin’s natural breathing process. Your skin actually becomes drier and more clogged after using them.
Far better alternatives include products using natural oils like Jojoba (which has the closest properties to the skin’s own sebum), Argan or Seabuckthorn, followed by a moisturiser full of Hyaluronic Acid. These will coat the skin in protective omega fatty acids and replenish the natural moisture of your skin, bringing it closer to equilibrium. This in turn helps boost elasticity and slow the formation of wrinkles and lines.
The term “oily” is used to describe heightened sebum production, which can mean you get shiny skin with a greasy feel, blocked pores, pimples and acne. You are also more likely to have large visible pores.
Oily skin tends to age well in terms of lines and wrinkles because moisture isn’t the biggest problem. The downside is that you may continue to have blemishes and outbreaks throughout your life, which can cause scarring and make your skin sun sensitive.
The goal is to keep your skin clean without stripping it of the natural oils that promote healthy skin. First, a gentle exfoliant full of natural acids can keep away debris and clear the skin of excess oil.
Then - while it might seem counterintuitive – you can fight oil with oil. A natural oil like Pumpkin Seed oil can help balance the water to oil ratio of your skin, prompting it to slow down oil production and be calmer. Just be sure that you mix facial oils with water before applying to create an emulsion, as the water will better penetrate skin and therefore deliver the nutrients from the oil deeper into your skin.
Once you have calmed your skin you can target areas that age (smile lines, crinkled eyes, etc) with active products, like natural vitamin C and A, to firm and strengthen the skin against early signs of aging and to heal any scars from previous breakouts.
If your skin is irritated by just about everything, you have sensitive skin. Temperature, foods, alcohol, the sun, harsh ingredients in skincare, haircare and your laundry detergent may cause your skin to redden, break out or even tear.
The best thing you can do for your skin is to keep your skincare extremely natural and very simple. You will want to avoid any ingredients that are too active and look for soothing, protective products that calm.
Keeping your skincare routine predictable is also important – your skin does not like change. Try a natural, cream cleanser with lots of oils in it – coconut is particularly calming, as is vitamin E.
You’ll also want to prioritise a natural sunscreen and a moisturiser with ingredients like Chamomile and Calendula, which are designed to combat and soothe inflammation. If you can keep your skin calm, it will have time to heal and strengthen and this is your best defence against age.
Anti-aging and Ethnicity
Part of the way we age is linked to our ethnicity. Very light skin has much less natural sun protection than other skin types and so will need to prioritise high protection sun care.
Melasma (patches of darker skin) is more common for people with darker skin, and so sun-protection and gentle (rather than abrasive) skincare is a priority.
Certain ethnicities have skin that retains water better than others, so you may find yourself with some naturally inherited age-protection, but studies show that all skin types benefit from the ingestion of fish oils rich in omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids. This is because these oils have a photoprotective effect from the inside out, regardless of skin colour or texture.
If you have read all three instalments of this series so far, can you see a pattern emerging? We’re going to repeat it one more time, just in case. When it comes to anti-aging, the rule is pretty simple: no matter what your skin type or colour, protect it from too much sun and you’ll age beautifully.
Up next in our Anti-Aging Series: Anti-Aging Skincare Routines for your 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s