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Tweak your genes
Everyone knows that when it comes to genes, you get what you’re given. Right? Perhaps not. “The genetic make-up of a person doesn’t determine how a person’s skin will age,” says Olay senior scientist Dr Frauke Neuser. In fact, in a recent study in partnership with Harvard Medical School, Olay found that although a small proportion of the population forms a group of genetically ‘exceptional agers’, our skincare habits, such as our exposure to the sun and how well we hydrate, have a much greater impact on the way our skin ages. In short: no matter your DNA, great skin is achievable. “This [study] demonstrates that nurture is more important than nature, and that people can throw away their genetic advantages with poor lifestyle choices,” says Neuser.
Wake up to better skin
While the notion of ‘beauty sleep’ may seem gimmicky, adequate shut-eye may be the key to a youthful glow. “Insufficient sleep can cause excess cortisol to be released by the body, resulting in collagen breakdown,” says Emma Hobson, education manager for the International Dermal Institute and Dermalogica, adding that this shows up in dark circles, puffy eyes, sallow skin and premature ageing. Going to bed early is important: experts believe skin repair takes place at around 11pm. “Sleep releases human growth hormone, which increases muscle mass and strengthens skin. Blood flow to the skin increases, too, resulting in a healthy glow,” says Hobson. Optimise night-time recovery with Dermalogica’s Sound Sleep Cocoon, which complements the skin’s natural rhythm, delivering active ingredients and hydration while you doze.
Wear sunscreen–for this reason
If you needed another reason to slather a liberal application of sun protection daily this is it:a recent study published by the journal Dermatologic Surgery found sun protection not only protects the skin from UV rays, but can actually reverse the signs of ageing. Participants who used SPF 30 sunscreen daily noted their skin texture, clarity and pigmentation improved during the year-long study. UV exposure remains one of the most damaging environmental concerns for our skin, says Neuser, so whether for prevention or reversal, sun protection is a non-negotiable.
Be aware–just being in a big city is ageing
The list of environmental aggressors that bombardour skin on the daily may be lengthy, but facialist Melanie Grant says pollution is one not to be ignored. “With traffic pollution emerging as the single most toxic substance for skin, for those living and working in traffic-polluted areas, unless they take steps to protect their skin right now, they will wear it on their skin in 10 years’ time,” she says. Damage shows up in fine lines, collagen loss, dehydration and dullness, and can be even worse for those with sensitive skin. While some formulas will be marketed as a pollution protectant, products that are packed full of antioxidants (tonix free radicals) and anti-inflammatory actives will do the job, too.
Don’t worry, be happy
Never underestimate the power of positive thinking. Further research from Olay’s study on ageing found that a cheerful outlook may actually contribute to the way you age. The reason is twofold. Firstly, it boils down to the notion that those with an optimistic outlook naturally appear younger to those around them. So while someone may actually be getting older in a similar way toothers in their age group, they may appear younger due to their sunny disposition. Secondly, we all know the effects that stress can have on our complexions (hello, deadline breakout). A positive attitude lowers stress levels and, in turn, reduces the prevalence of stress-related skin concerns. The take-away? Try to chill out.
You’ll want fat cells
A quick science lesson: fat cells are in abundance in youthful skin but progressively decrease as we age. Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania found it may be possible to turn a molecule commonly found in hair follicles into fat cells, meaning we would continue to produce them (hooray) and thereby reduce fine lines and wrinkles forming (among other outcomes, it might mean wounds could heal as normal skin rather than asscar tissue). The research is still in the early stages, so don’t expect a quick fix, but the findings could be a game-changer when it comes to ageing.
Layer like a pro
If your beauty cabinet is heaving with an abundance of elixirs, take a lesson in how to apply them. While active ingredients are a mainstay of any good beauty regimen, there are some simple rules to keep in mind to reduce any unwelcomed side effects. “Our skin barrier function is reduced as weage, making us more prone to irritation,” says Michelle Hunt, a cosmetic and laser dermatologist and fellow of the Australasian College of Dermatologists. Space out topical retinoids and alpha-hydroxy acids (the rule of thumb is mornings for AHAs and evenings for retinoids) to avoid flare-ups. And Grant notes that the ingredient niacinamide can lessen the impact of vitamin C on the skin, so go in first with vitamin C, wait 20 minutes and then apply your niacinamide serum.If in doubt, ask your dermatologist.
Lock it in
It’s an unfortunate truth that it’s not just our skin that displays the telltale signs of the ageing process, but so does our hair, too. While the most obvious indicator is a mane of greying locks, breakage, volume loss, dryness and dullness are common hair concerns as the years tick over. Whether as a preventative measure or as a treatment strategy, start by focusing on the scalp. New to the Australian market, French brand Phyto jam-packs botanicals into its formulas and treats the scalp exactly the same as skin anywhere else. For an intense pick-me up, Phyto 7 Hydrating Day Cream with 7 Plants for Dry Hair works like a leave-in conditioner to prevent split ends and drum up shine.
This story originally appeared in the April 2018 issue of Vogue Australia.