Have you ever picked up a beauty product only to find that it’s anti-ageing, and you’ve put it straight back? I mean, “fights wrinkles,” “collagen boosting” “retinol repair” …those are words for old women, right?
It turns out us twenty-somethings should be perusing those aisles more often. In fact, according to the experts, it’s in these formative years that preventative care and early treatment can have the biggest effect on the ageing process.
To get the low down before it’s too late, we spoke to Dr. Ronald Moy, founder of specialist skincare brand, DNARenewal, and former President of the American Academy of Dermatology as well as Amie Skilton, herbalist and nutritionist at Bioceuticals. With one specialising in external care, and the other focused on internal health, they gave us a comprehensive guide to preventing ageing.
“UV damage is the most common cause of premature aging – in fact, 90% of overall ageing is caused by UV damage,” says Moy. “This happens because UV rays damage the skin’s DNA. Our body’s natural defenses are DNA repair enzymes but the amount of DNA repair enzymes we have in our arsenal start to significantly decline at around 30 years old.”
While baking ourselves in the sun is the number one culprit, Moy says other factors like smoking or pollution can also accelerate DNA damage and cause premature ageing. According to Skilton, nutritional deficiencies, poor gut health and excess stress can also play a role.
“Anti-ageing products work differently based on their ingredients so this is a fairly broad question,” says Moy. “Most anti-ageing products center around antioxidants, which is also a broad term for ingredients that are supposed to mop up free radical damage. This was a theory that came from the 50s, which has since been improved upon with major advances in research. Now we know that ‘free radical damage’ is actually DNA damage caused by UV damage, pollutants and other carcinogens and are more accurately addressed and repaired with DNA repair enzymes.”
“I recommend DNA repair enzyme creams like the ones in DNARenewal to patients of all ages. Your body is constantly using DNA repair enzymes to fight any sunburns or pollutants etc. so supplementing them early on will help speed healing and give your body a better overall defense,” says Moy.
He says this is especially important for people who are predisposed to skin cancer (those who are fair skinned or have a history of skin cancer in the family) or spend a lot of time in the sun. “Our repair enzymes are derived from marine material and our formulations are paraben and sulfate free so there is no danger in ‘over doing it’.”
Skilton and Moy agree that no matter your age, everyone should be wearing a sunscreen every day. “This is important at a young age to prevent premature ageing or skin cancers and also at older age groups since your skin becomes more vulnerable,” says Moy. “DNA repair enzyme creams are also good for those who are in their 30’s+ or who have had a history of extensive sun exposure. But sunscreen is the most essential product across the board.”
“All products in a woman’s arsenal should have some kind of active ingredient otherwise there is no point in using them. The important part of considering a beauty protocol is thinking about what you are using and why. For instance, make sure you have a cleanser that has a gentle amount of an ingredient like glycolic acid like our Foaming Gel Cleanser. A mild formulation of an AHA will help exfoliate your skin to get rid of dead skin cells and dirt to make sure your other products are absorbed fully. Most people’s next step would be a serum. Your serum should have active ingredients that are pure and concentrated like our barley derived growth factor that is bioengineered to stimulate younger and tighter looking skin. Basically, every product you use should have some element of anti-ageing properties since all of these products should be playing a part in your larger anti-ageing goal.”
According to Skilton, it’s not just what you put on your body that matters. Along with using sunscreen and other anti-ageing products, she says, “keeping inflammation, toxins and hormones under control will help to reduce the risk of skin concerns such as eczema and acne.” And making wise lifestyle choices can help maintain your youth.
According to Skilton, stress has a huge impact on our wellbeing, which manifests in our skin. “The hormones released in response to stress affect digestion, hormonal balance and the immune system – which all have a negative impact in the health and appearance of [our] skin,” she says. To combat stress-induced ageing, one should aim to lead a healthy lifestyle by ensuring adequate sleep and exercise and partaking in calming activities such as meditation and journaling.
“Nutritional deficiencies (e.g. zinc, vitamin C, D and A) can compromise wound healing and collagen health,” says Skilton. In particular, she suggests we ensure an adequate intake of vitamin C as it supports the production of collagen within the tissues.
Probiotics taken orally or applied topically can help to make your skin look younger. “Topical application of a particular probiotic yeast (Saccharomyces boulardii) has been shown to stimulate collagen synthesis and smooth out the skin,” says Skilton. “Recent research also shows that certain probiotics, taken orally, reduce the impact of UV radiation on the skin. When combined with vitamin A (which supports healthy immune function along mucous membranes such as those of the skin) and Lactoferrin (which has antibacterial, antiviral and anti-fungal activity), the three ingredients provide symptomatic relief of mild to moderate acne.”
Related article: 11 tips to curb sugar cravings for good
“Sugar is extremely damaging to the whole body, but shows up quickly in the skin,” says Skilton. “Sugar consumption results in a process called glycation, in which the molecules attach themselves to collagen fibre causing the skin to become less elastic and more vulnerable to sun damage, lines, and sagging.”