Skin is your bodies largest organ. 30% of how well we age is genetic.
We spent £32m on eye-care products in 2008. Companies don’t need to demonstrate research of the same standard required for drugs to prove their products work.
Most anti-ageing products have little or no benefits to our skin, in fact, a lot of them include irritants like AHA. The interesting thing here, is that while the skin is irritated the it swells slightly, thereby padding out those fine lines. (lovely!).
So what is the best anti-ageing regime for your skin?
Do use a broad spectrum SPF sun block - that protects skin from both UV-A* and UV-B**
Do have a healthy diet - Ensure you are getting adequate fruit and vegetables (click here to link to the the BBC good food page which has a great selection), drink plenty of fluid, this doesn't have to be water but fizzy drinks are out.
Do Sleep on your back - Sleeping on your side creases your skin whilst asleep and over time creates embedded wrinkles
Do try to get a full 8 hours sleep - the best thing you can do for your skin is to get the correct amount of sleep. Your body goes into repair mode at sleep stage 3 and 4 which if cut off cannot complete it's job. Sleep deprivation also contributes to weight gain+
If you must moisturise only do it after a bath - your skin is delicate and is naturally balanced for you, if you use moisturiser you are unbalancing your skin, although it feels good, don't be persuaded by the marketing hype if you have normal skin you don't need it and it doesn't work, it doesn't affect the collagen in your skin as it can't penetrate deeply enough and it can over time harm your skin.^
Do exfoliate regularly - the best way for you to get that glow is to have clean skin that is exfoliated. regular exfoliation takes away dead skin and makes the skin look more luminous.
Don't smoke - smoking can age the skin in several ways although most are unknown at this stage one that definitely exists is that smokers use their facial muscles more then non smokers increasing wrinkles by frowning and pursing the lips there are studies showing that it decreases blood flow to the skin which reduces absorption of vital vitamins and thereby starves your skin of vital nutrients.
Don't do facial exercises - these just create more wrinkles according to many specialists, if you think about it, it does make sense, the areas we currently have wrinkles in are the expression line area that we "exercise" the most.
Do not use tanning booths - they mostly use UV-A rays
Can it really be that easy? Don't forget we buy into beauty products because we really want them to work, and the industry knows this!
Skin creams Busted!
Be an informed consumer - They are a bad science, you must have seen the adverts telling us about that "miracle" new skin cream, with patented new scientific products in it saying how amazing it is for your skin, if you look closer however, it will also include the words "maybe or could" in it and at the bottom of the advert in small writing it will say the claims are based on a survey of 74% of women agreeing with their claims out of a test base sample of around 65 women, a number so small it is statistically irrelevant.
Remember they are advertising their product to millions of women with a clinical study of 65, and using percentages of women that agree, that in itself should ring alarm bells.
If that doesn't bother you then the sudo science of ingredients should (too long a list to go through here). Think that, yes vitamins are important, so let's eat them in healthy food not apply them to the skin, an organ designed not to be penetrated. An excellent book and an eye opener is Bad Science by Ben Goldacre read it and make your own mind up. He has also just written one called Bad Pharma exposing the pharmaceutics industry.
Ben Goldacre has said it much better and hopefully he doesn't mind us quoting a section from his webpage and book below. For the full article and to buy his books please go to http://www.badscience.net/category/cosmetics/
"I prostrate myself before you and admit defeat. I’ve been writing this column for nearly two years, and I still haven’t managed to stiff a single multinational cosmetics firm: they’re just too good at constructing legally defensible pseudoscience. I’m picturing huge laboratories and rows of scientists writing incomprehensible but legally sound babble onto their clipboards".
"Cosmetics companies take laboratory data – stuff at a molecular level, the behaviour of cells in a glass dish – and then pretend it’s the same as the ultimate issue of whether something makes you look nice. This amino acid, they say, is crucial for collagen formation. Perfectly true, along with 19 others. No evidence to say that anyone is deficient in it, and, crucially, no explicit claim from the company that rubbing that actual amino acid on your face is what is going to make you look better. That link is made only in the customer’s mind: because the claim that the cream makes you look good is an entirely separate one, made for the cream as a whole, and it’s true, because all creams will hydrate your skin and make you look good. Vaseline, as it happens, also does it rather well, but leaves a greasy sheen. And most cosmetics research, since you ask, comes down to conserving the moisturising properties of Vaseline, but avoiding the greasiness. Diprobase, at less than £10 for a half-litre tub, represents a pretty good stab at solving this problem."
"What about the other magic ingredients? One thing kind of works: cooked and broken-up protein (hydrolysed X-microprotein nutricomplexes, or whatever they’re calling them this month). These are long soggy chains of amino acids, which contract when they dry, and so temporarily contract your wrinkles. That’s temporarily. And all the expensive creams have got that in them anyway. A couple of other things kind of work. Vitamin C, and alpha-hydroxy acids affect skin significantly, although only at such high concentrations that they also cause irritation, stinging, burning and redness: so now they have to be watered down, to pretty useless dilutions. But companies can still name them on the label, and wallow in the glory of their efficacy at higher potencies, because by law you don’t have to give the doses of your ingredients, only their ranked order."
Personal thought on Retinoids (which allegedly promote skin renewal)
I'm no skin expert but I do remember watching a documentary on ageing some years ago.. and if we are to believe what they said, ageing is primarily due to the degradation of renewed cells (or to be technical: degradation of the telomeres found at the end of the cells string of genetic material (DNA) causing the telomere to shorten each time a cell divides, leading to ageing and eventually the death of that cell).
The analogy given is to think of a photocopier, the original cells when we are young, are in tact and complete, but as time and copies of copies of copies come along, there is degradation of quality and eventually death of the cell.
So, I am slightly confused about the long term benefits of Retinoides, which are found in many skin beauty products. If, as they say, Retinoids speed up cell renewal and therefore cell turnover, surely this will also escalate the photocopier effect, I'm sure that in the short term, we get younger looking skin similar to exfoliation/micro dermabrasion effect, but if these Retinoids actually do what they say and speed up cell regeneration and renewal, I worry that the longer term effect would be to escalate the ageing process, and thereby keep us turning to these anti-ageing products as our skin deteriorates. Anyway, it's something to think about.
* = UV-A ultra violet radiation penetrates the skin at a deeper level than UVB and is a major factor in skin ageing and wrinkles (photoageing), Research suggests UV-A contributes and may initiate development of melanoma (a kind of skin cancer) and photodermatitis (sun causing rash)
** = UV-B the ultra violet radiation that causes sunburn and also contributes to skin ageing
+ = Research from the National Sleep Foundation