Nutritionist, Rose Holmes, offers some top tips on how to slow down skin ageing, inside and out.
As skin ages, collagen and elastin fibres stiffen, thicken, break, clump together and lose elasticity, causing fine lines and wrinkles.
Skin is composed of three layers and, with age, starting in our 20s, changes occur, with a decrease in exfoliation processes from the skin surface cells (epidermis), from where dead cells are generally shed. Moisture transfer from the dermis to the epidermis also alters and slows down. Combined with shrinking of fat cells, skin can begin to look dull and thin, losing its brilliance.
The main cause of wrinkles is damage to skin support structure by sun exposure. However, diet has a very important role in maintaining optimal skin quality. Sugar is the enemy to skin, affecting its ability to optimally function as well as its appearance and feel.
Wrinkles, fine lines and sagging skin are an indication that the skin’s structure is being compromised. Collagen and elastin (our ‘youth proteins’) in skin can become damaged by cross-linking.
The nutrient effect
Skin is one of our detox organs. Foods and drinks consumed, as well as ingredients in skincare products (and cleaning products) which come into contact with our skin, must be detoxified; the skin is one route via which this can occur. So, drinking alcohol and eating chocolate and fried foods, as well as using synthetic skincare products, may negatively impact skin health. A diet with insufficient omega fatty acids may also leave the skin dry, making it more susceptible to damage and wrinkles.
One of the worst offending ‘foods’ is sugar. In all its forms, sugar can negatively impact skin (and all organs) health. It can cause cross-linking of proteins, including collagen and elastin (our ‘youth proteins’) and keratin (main protein in hair, skin and nails), which then cannot function as they should; the effect on our external skin is fine lines, wrinkles and sagging skin.
Collagen connects and supports body tissues, and it is responsible for the firmness and suppleness of skin. Elastin allows the skin to resume its shape after contracting or stretching; it gives skin its elasticity. If collagen and elastin fibres are damaged by sugar, they cannot perform their function optimally. Advanced glycation endproducts (AGEs) are formed due to this glycation; these make collagen more fragile. AGEs also deactivate our natural antioxidant enzymes, thus making skin more vulnerable to sun damage, the factor that most ages skin.
Nourishing skin from the inside is also essential. In addition to a healthy balanced diet, avoiding sugar and toxins, and providing high levels of antioxidants, look for supplements to support skin (and connective tissue) health, for example, one that contains highly bio-available orthosilicic acid and other minerals that support connective tissue, which includes bones and joints as well as hair, skin and nails, and so can provide a multi-purpose health and beauty programme.
Antioxidants are essential to healthy skin. Vitamin C has an important role to play in skin health. Vitamins A and E, too, benefit skin health.
Amino acids which have particular importance for skin include arginine, glutamine, proline, cysteine and lysine. Arginine may have a role in repairing visible skin damage while lysine may help visibly firm skin surface by reinforcing its supportive elements. Cysteine is round in beta-keratin, the main protein in hair, skin and nails and may have anti-ageing properties due to its role in both detoxification and the synthesis of glutathione, one of our main antioxidants.
Silicon is an important mineral for skin health as it is needed for optimal collagen synthesis, improving skin strength and elasticity. Orthosilicic acid is a highly bioavailable form of silicon available in liquid form. Together with other connective support ingredients, such as zinc, boron, selenium, manganese, MSM and oligomeric proanthocyanindins (OPCs), these ingredients work synergistically, contributing to the maintenance of connective tissue including skin.
The botanical, gotu kola, is an excellent skin-supportive and healthy ageing addition to a beauty and wellbeing programme. Gotu kola may enhance antioxidant activity during skin healing, contributing to its healing properties, and has anti-inflammatory and anti-allergenic activity.
Just as our bodies are healthiest when fed with good wholesome food, our skin benefits from nourishment from natural ingredients without synthetic additives. Such products with natural plant-based ingredients and without synthetic ‘nasties’ provide ideal nourishment without synthetic ingredients that might harm the skin or cause allergic reaction.
Natural botanicals are nutrient-rich superfoods that can provide beauty-enhancing actives. Look for no nasties products with natural botanicals to help achieve revitalised and healthy, youthful-looking skin.
In addition to looking for what is included in skincare products, consider what is excluded. Added ingredients such as parabens, PEGs, DEA, TEA, SLS and others may negatively impact both skin and whole-body health.
- Parabens are widely used preservatives. Research suggests parabens have oestrogen-mimicking properties and may lead to impaired fertility or foetal development and may associate with increased risk of breast cancer.
- Paraffin and petrochemicals should also be avoided. Mineral oils are petroleum derivatives, commonly used as emollients and lubricant but are often contaminated with impurities. These petro ingredients may affect the ability of skin to breathe, may clog pores and cause acne and may cause skin to age prematurely.
- PEGs (polyethylene glycols) are petroleum-based chemicals used to soften, thicken and aid moisture retention of the product. Like other petroleum-based chemicals, PEG compounds can be contaminated with impurities. PEGs also are penetration enhancers and therefore may allow other compounds to absorb more readily through skin into the body. These can therefore cause skin irritation and system toxicity.
- Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), a surfactant used commonly to help create foam, should also be avoided. SLS and SLES (sodium laureth sulfate) are penetration enhancers. These, therefore, have the same potential negative effects of PEGs, facilitating absorption, too, of potential irritants and toxins. SLS and SLES also strip natural oils from the skin, causing dryness, irritation and sometimes allergic reaction.
- Alcohol (ethanol) is dehydrating and may damage by destroying natural oils in skin, resulting in dry, cracked skin.
Look instead for natural oils which moisturise, nourish, protect and regenerate. Vegan ranges mean not only that there are no animal or animal-derived ingredients, but also that the products are not tested on animals.
A healthy beauty routine starts with a healthy diet and lifestyle. Ensuring plenty of fresh vegetables and fruit, minimising sugar, alcohol and processed (and fried) foods. Optimal hydration is essential. It is also important to use natural products on the skin, starting with a quality, natural oil, like rosehip seed oil, to moisturise, nourish and rejuvenate the skin.
Ensure a good quality pure and natural oil with essential fatty acids and nourishing antioxidants as an essential ingredient in skincare products. Rosehip seed oil is an excellent choice because it has a balance of omega fatty acids with naturally occurring antioxidant vitamins A, C and E as well as trans-retinoic acid. Rosehip seed oil is highly moisturising and regenerative and, in trials, shows ability to heal and fad post-surgical scars as well as to prevent the advancement of premature ageing. So, rosehip seed oil helps diminish fine lines, wrinkles and stretch marks as well as acne scars.
A quality facial oil, like rosehip seed oil, is the foundation for all other skincare products. After cleansing, apply rosehip oil to the skin using the fingertips in a gentle circular massaging motion. Rosehip oil helps keep skin hydrated and soft, diminishes wrinkles and stretch marks and helps to reduce the appearance of scars and signs of ageing.
For an at-home spa-like skincare treatment, try using a jade roller or gua sha board when applying rosehip seed oil. Jade rollers are great for a relaxing facial massage, which also encourages cell repair and a healthy glow. These can also help to reduce puffiness and under-eye circles. Gua sha boards can relieve tension, stimulate circulation and aid lymphatic drainage.
Sacha inchi oil is another nutrient-rich, moisturising oil, rich in omega 3 and antioxidant vitamin E. Sacha inchi, which is native to the Amazon Rainforest, also naturally contains vitamin C and carotenoids to help fight against oxidative damage.
The natural exfoliator, Bambusa arundinacea, known as golden bamboo, is a natural vegetable scrub that cleanses and removes impurities, helping to brighten the skin. Great for sloughing off dead skin, Golden bamboo is a fantastic ingredient in exfoliating products and can be found in Rio Rosa Mosqueta Brightening Exfoliator.
Rose Holmes is a Nutritionist and works as the Education and Training Manager at Rio Health.