Facial skin needs water more than anything else to flourish and the greatest benefits come from consuming the stuff directly rather than applying it to your face. Unfortunately, modern living conditions encourage too much water to escape. Central heating, air conditioning, sunbathing, flying, smoking, drinking and dieting are all quick routes to wrinkles.
Problem – Warm sun dramatically increases the rate of evaporation of water from the skin surface. In addition, its rays spark the production of free radicals; the destructive oxygen molecules that accelerate the ageing process. The sun causes 80 pre cent of the changes associated with ageing.
Solution – If you have dry-to- normal skin, seek out the shade. If you cannot avoid or resist being in the sun, apply creams containing the antioxidant vitamins A, C and E which have been shown to zap free radicals on contact. Sunscreens, creams, blocks and lotions do shield the skin from damaging chemicals. If you are exposed to moderate sunshine only and do not have very fair or excessively dry skin, apply a natural vegetable oil with screening properties. The most effective are jojoba, which has a sun protection factor of 5-10, beeswax, whose high viscosity means it sticks to the skin; and shear butter, which is 50 per cent fat, including essential fatty acids, so antioxidant protection.
Problem – After the sun, smoking is the biggest wrinkler. It thins the skin by around 40 percent, so that water escapes much more easily. Further damage is caused by the chemicals in cigarettes which accelerate normal ageing. Cigarette smoke destroys vitamin C, needed for collagen manufacture, and smoking also constricts the tiny capillaries that feed the skin, depriving it of nutrients and oxygen. Smoking can add 15 years to your skin‘s age.
Solution – If you can’t give up smoking then cutting back would be a positive step forward.
Central Heating and Air Conditioning
Problem – Both steal moisture from the air.
Solution – At home, keep the heating moderate and use a humidifier – a bowl of water on top of a radiator can raise the moisture content of the air to around 80-85 per cent humidity, which is the optimum level for the skin.
Problem – Alcohol dries out the facial skin and it is diuretic, causing rapid water loss. Red blood cells stick together and capillaries gum up so that they can rupture and result in thread veins. Alcohol also ages the skin by robbing the body of oxygen and vitamin C.
Solution – The recommended maximum amount is 21 units of alcohol per week.
Problem – The most common mistake when trying to lose weight is to cut down on all fats, but the skin relies on a regular supply of essential fatty acids to keep it moist and pliable. Crash dieting causes loss of muscle and yo-yo dieting dries out and ages the skin in the long term.
Solution – If you diet, do so at a sensible pace; include nuts, seeds and oily fish. Try to stick near your target weight once you reach it.
Problem – Recycling air in an enclosed cabin makes it excessively dry – there can be as little as 2 per cent humidity. Even a shortish flight can dry your skin significantly.
Solution – Drink water before, during and after the flight, and avoid alcohol. On a long flight, spray your face once an hour.