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How old is your SKIN?

 As old as I am! I hear you say, but is it? Do you look your age? Older? Younger? When does it start? You know that feeling when you look in the mirror at your reflection, “Hmm, this isn’t quite what I expected?” 

How old is your SKIN, Doctors Formula, skincare

We take our youth for granted – that fresh faced, dewy look our skin appears to have all year round from the day we are born, often with minimal effort, unless you’ve experienced acne in your teens. The fine lines seem to creep up on us – first, it may just be a few tiny crinkles at the corner of your eyes or a few dark circles and the occasional breakout in our early twenties. You may suddenly notice that your lipstick is starting to bleed ever so slightly even when wearing a lip liner. The texture has begun to change, and that youthful luminosity isn’t there every day, light doesn’t seem to bounce or reflect right back off your skin. Fast forward a few years and signs of broken capillaries, enlarged pores and a more uneven texture start to stare back at you and those laughter lines suddenly seem to have become much deeper and more prevalent. Brown pigmentation patches and freckles that don’t dissipate with the summer sun, but are still on the skin at Christmas time, what is happening to my skin and why?...

 At Birth

How old is your SKIN, Doctors Formula, skincare

It starts in our youth – beautiful baby skin that’s plump, squidgy, smooth and oh so soft to the touch. It’s rich in all things buoyant: bountiful in collagen and enriched fatty acids. It gets fed only the good stuff and is protected to the hilt in sunscreen with a minimum sun protection Ffactor of 50 by our parents. Hats on the beach, with the constantly applied SPF slathered on every inch of skin on show. Covered to the max throughout the winter months so you can barely see the little one’s face! Bathed, moisturised, and caressed daily with delicate ph. balanced soaps, bath foams and baby lotions. Your skin is living the good life!

And it shows how protected skin is healthy and youthful, as infant skin is structurally different to adult skin. The cells are smaller, the collagen fibres thinner and it’s also more permeable than adult skin as the epidermis of an infant is up to 20% thinner, so it can also run the risk of becoming dry and dehydrating out more readily than adult skin.

However, to counteract trans epidermal water loss is super effective at birth, equal to or even lower than, that of an adult, due to a baby’s super effective skin barrier. And some argue that an infant skin already has both a well-developed and functional skin at birth with a thick epidermis and well-formed stratum corneum (the layer which protects the inner layers of the skin, thicker on the hands and feet, thinner on the eye lids for example). Even within the first few days after being born, the function of the skin barrier changes.

How old is your SKIN, Doctors Formula, skincare

The skin’s microbiome and ever evolving skin environment stimulates the growth of some bacteria and limits the growth of others. The amount of specific bacteria such as the Staphylococcus species are higher on neonatal skin compared with adult skin. Research shows that infant skin is more hydrated than adult skin, and the skin microbiome of new-born babies resembles the microbiome of moist skin sites in adults. Is it any wonder that baby and infant skin is so incredibly smooth, hydrated, and soft to the touch when this largest of organs is constantly evolving over its first 12 months of life?

Entering the teen years

How old is your SKIN, Doctors Formula, skincare

Fast forward to our teens when the hormones kick in, sebum (oil) production fluctuates and if that results in a breakout of blemishes and spots, we find the most aggressive spot reducing skincare we can find and target our skin with it, whether there is a blemish or not. Make-up is discovered and not necessarily cleansed off before we go to bed, which means bacteria breed and spread across our skin, resulting in more breakouts. You’re tired of hearing your parents tell you to leave your phone off the table or say you’ve had more than enough hours on your iPad. You’re using a laptop at school, so ever constantly exposed to blue light radiation. Increased sweat secretions come into force as your body changes, and you discover the joys of blackheads, pimples, and spots!

Adolescence, been there, worn the t-shirt and remember all, of those bodily changes taking place! It’s not just skin deep, the results of those changing hormones, increases in sweat production and sudden oily skin type which seems to have appeared overnight and is affecting you but not your bestie! Thank your brain, it’s ultimately what is causing the change to your skin. It releases a gonadotropin-releasing hormone which cause your pituitary gland to release hormones to either produce more oestrogen or testosterone. These hormones LOVE to get in touch with your sebaceous glands (the ones which produce vital oil for the skin), but they appear to go into overdrive causing a slick of oil on the surface of the skin, which can result in the size of pores becoming enlarged, or all of the sebum doesn’t quite make it to the surface and gets trapped in a hair follicle, joins forces with the hair in combination with natural cellular turn over producing dead skin cells, now lying on the surface skin and becoming trapped, causing pimples and spots, add into the equation the increased production of sweat, the result, blackheads, blocked pores and spots not only on your face, but frequently onto your back and chest too. As we exit puberty into adulthood, sebum production slows for most, while for some others it doesn’t. And for a few, it almost comes to a standstill. Your skin type is prevalent at this point: normal, combination, oily or dry.

 Blue light and skin

How old is your SKIN, Doctors Formula, skincare

The factors’ affecting skin doesn’t stop there though. In recent years, the effect of blue light on the skin has come more into focus as we forever use digital devices, and if you have teenagers, you feel like you are forever saying “put that phone down!” With their life at their fingertips and social media calling, the chances of a conversation when the mobile, iPad, laptop or flat screen TV are on use are slim at best! Yet, the effect of blue light on adolescent skin can have far reaching and long-term effects – and not just for teenagers, for all of us oldies too!

Blue light is defined as a short wavelength, high intensity light, visible to the human eye, sometimes referred to as High Energy Visible or HEV light. Blue light is emitted from the sun’s rays, electric bulbs, atmospheric light and without a doubt from all our digital devices. It’s also believed to have the ability to penetrate further into the skin than UVA and UVB rays, reaching the dermis and targeting our collagen and elastin supplies.  Although we are all exposed to blue-light, it’s the intensity and duration we are exposed to it for which can have a negative and harmful effect on our skin as it’s a primary cause of oxidative stress in the skin. Not just skin in fact, but our eyes too, which is a feeling of fatigue and most definitely sleeplessness when exposed prior to bedtime. For some, over exposure can also cause headaches and associated symptoms. So, what does this cause within your skin – ageing of course! Photo-ageing (ageing skin from light exposure), hyper pigmentation, inflammation, and a weakened skin surface. Who thought that so much skin damage can be caused during puberty and adolescence?

The importance of SPF on holiday

How old is your SKIN, Doctors Formula, skincare

Your first holiday abroad with your friends, and no one reminding you of the need to reapply the sunscreen. You’re desperate for a tanned look – in your mind tanned skin equals healthy skin. You’ve even had a few sunbed sessions before your holidays started to get your skin used to the heat before you arrive at your destination. You’re being “good” and applying your sunscreen (you can hear your parents in your ear, as you arrive at the beach and start to apply your new super-fast tanning oil with an SPF 2 – need I say more?) Fast food all the way, as who has time to cook when you could be out enjoying yourselves at the new club you haven’t got to yet? Your 5-a-day has depleted, and a liquid diet is, you tell yourself – “absolutely fine” - for just a week or two! No limits, no holdbacks, lack of sleep and being out all night having the best time EVER!

SPF – you can’t leave home without it, whether it be in a daily moisturiser, make-up, or blur cream. For those who are diligent, they apply multiple layers of SPF on the skin before even stepping a foot outside! When we think of UV rays, most of us think of sun exposure, red or brown tinged skin, even a healthy glow (this perception often changes as we age). Yet the damage caused to skin by both UVA and UVB rays is phenomenal and is the biggest cause of looking older than our true skin years. UVA rays penetrate not only the skin down to the dermis, but they also attack our skin even when indoors as they can penetrate glass. So even if you’re not headed out, wearing a daily SPF is a true skin saviour. UV ray damage in the skin is the root cause of lines and wrinkles, age-spots or hyperpigmentation and increases the risk of skin cancers.

Alcohol consumption

How old is your SKIN, Doctors Formula, skincare

It’s party time, we’re celebrating, young and carefree, and most definitely, we’re not considering how alcohol can have long-term effects on our skin during your youthful summer vacation or even just on the weekend splurge. Short term, we know the result – poor sleep, under-eye bags and potentially a few breakouts, puffiness, and a duller complexion the subsequent days after a heavy night or two. However, resilient as it is, given time in between to rejuvenate, our skin appears to recover quite rapidly. We may even experience an increased anti-inflammatory response signal activity in our skin whilst were drinking – red flushes on the neck and cheeks. So short term effects seem minimal and manageable, yet the longer-term effects of over alcohol consumption are detrimental.

Experts believe that excess alcohol over long periods of time can have irreversible effects on the skin, literally sucking the moisture out of the skin. Even as the alcohol consumed starts to metabolise in the liver, a toxic by product is produced and released into the body and skin. Resulting in dehydrated tissue, which ultimately can lead to more lines, wrinkles, loss of luminosity and an increased anti-inflammatory response as well as the broken capillaries, blotchy and uneven skin tone, and lack of luminosity.

Finally, the holiday is coming to an end, you’re starting to look forward to your own bed and a few early nights as well as good home cooked meal. All those take-aways, rich meals out and only a few hours’ sleep have taken their toll, but you’re young, you’ll bounce back!

 Stress

How old is your SKIN, Doctors Formula, skincare

Then suddenly, every minute of every day is timed to perfection -- you make sure you’re not going to miss the train to work, want to beat the rush hour traffic, get the kids ready with their afterschool bags packed, presentations lined up. It doesn’t help that your night of poor sleep was because you woke yourself up with all the things you should have done today but forgot about or simply didn’t find the time in which to complete them. Finally, it’s wind down time, those who should be in bed have finally gone to sleep, you’ve raided your stash of the naughty snacks you’ve hidden from the kids, glass of wine poured, just one more glass and that will be a bottle gone. Time for bed, and now you’re too tired to wash away the day and your undereye bags could give Louis Vuitton a run for their money! Time seems to be passing you by so quickly, and there never feels like enough hours in the day.

Stress. Just one simple word which can create havoc on the skin and life in general! When we feel stressed, our body responds in so many ways. Our hormone signals to respond and produce more cortisol, which in turn advises your oil producing glands to make more oil, often causing unexpected breakouts, no matter what our age. Stress also tends to affect our sleeping pattern, and those who experience an unadulterated 7-8 hours of usually normal sleep can find that sleep seems a thing of the past - no matter how many sheep you count.

Sleep cycles & diet

How old is your SKIN, Doctors Formula, skincare

Skin isn’t rested and your circadian rhythms has gone out of the window with the feeling that it’s not returning anytime soon. Circadian rhythms are 24-hour cycles that are part of the body’s internal clock that run the background to carry out essential functions and processes. This includes optimal skin function, as well as the sleep-wake cycle (the most important and well-known circadian rhythms!) as different systems of the body follow circadian rhythms that are synchronized with a master clock in the brain. Your skin looks dull, you’re irritable, you have breakouts which you haven’t had since you were in your teens, and you seemingly have inflammation or redness in the skin which you’ve never experienced before. Rosacea, rashes and even blisters may appear and at worst a breakout of hives. You felt stressed before, now that your skin is misbehaving you feel even more stressed and emotional.

So, you reach for the comfort food or the glass of something tasty. This too has an effect on the skin, and more frequently the waistline too! Diet plays a vital role in the health of our skin. Foods that are packed with antioxidants, like fresh fruit & vegetables and healthy fats from fish, nuts, and fruits such as avocado, will assist in keeping skin healthy from within. Water is the hydration hero to save the day, alongside herbal tea that helps the skin remain luminous.

How old is your SKIN, Doctors Formula, skincare

Then it’s time to try and catch up on those missed hours of sleep, but you’re exhausted after today. Do I really need to cleanse you ask yourself? Don’t ask, just do it. Each and every day we need to cleanse away the day and dirt and debris we’ve accumulated without necessarily seeing a visible film on the skin. The make-up may have worn off, yet pollution, bacteria and sweat are lurking. Don’t take the bugs to bed! Cleanse and hydrate prior to sleep -- your skin will thank you for it and so will your reflection the following morning.

“Where did the past 30+ years go?” you ask yourself. How much consumption of alcohol, a poor diet, and raging hormones, combined with environmental damage, pollution and stress have affected the age of your skin? Is it too late to turn back the clock? Never. 

So, what can we do?

How old is your SKIN, Doctors Formula, skincare

There’s always room for improvement and healthier skin choices. Maybe the word retirement looms, but then you’ve still got the grandchildren to keep you on your toes, friends to meet, holidays which can last longer than two weeks, the garden, the dog. “I will slow down” you tell yourself as you look in the mirror, but who’s that person staring back at you and how old do they look?

A few tactics to “slow down” that you can add to tomorrow’s “to-do” list:

  • Buy a blue light shield for your smart phone and tablet and use “night-mode” to reduce blue-light absorption
  • Ensure both your skincare routine and your diet are packed with antioxidants
  • Make time for yourself
  • Breathe…
  • Wear an SPF all year round
  • Healthy skin also comes from within, tweak your diet
  • Drink more water
  • Remember one glass, not the full bottle!
  • Love the reflection that you see in the mirror

Skin is both a complex organ and an intrinsic, dynamic entity. It is individual to every one of us and performs vital functions daily like providing UV protection and regulating body temperature. It’s the physical barrier between everything within and the environment. It has its own world of natural moisturising factors, secretion processes, hair protection and regulatory systems to keep us safe. It prevents invasion from pathogens, sensory perception, from the second we are born to the minute we depart. Learn to love the skin you’re in!

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