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 Skin & Hair

March 2011
CAN YOU CONTROL HOW FAST YOUR SKIN AGES?
Prachi Patodia Saraf
 
The answer to this question, is…Yes.  However, our skin ages differently depending on our genes and the choices we make.  Our skin reacts to our environment and habits.  Things, which are good for our body, are also good for the skin and vice-versa. 

“Simple things like sun protection or a nutritious diet can help make your skin look younger and prevent many skin problems”, says Dr. Anuya Anil Manerkar, a Mumbai-based dermatologist.

The Signs
Common signs of skin ageing include wrinkles, pigmentation, fine lines, open pores on nose and reduction in elasticity of skin. Let us look at the major factors, which affect skin ageing and how to slow it down.

The Culprits and their Antidotes

Sun: Prolonged unprotected exposure to the sun breaks down the collagen and elastin (vital proteins for the skin), which can lead to early wrinkling, unattractivepigmentation, saggy and stretchy skin besides serious health risks like skin cancer. Sun damage might not be visible at an early age, however effects show up later in life, so everybody, including children should be protected from the sun.

Protect your skin by applying sun screen (that filters both UVA and UVB rays) of SPF (Sun Protection Factor) 15 or higher on a daily basis (hot or cold weather) and re-applying it every 2-3 hours regardless of your age. Additionally, avoid mid-day sun and wear protective gear like hats or long sleeves. Medication might be required to reduce existing sun damage. Remember there is nothing like a healthy tan!

Smoking: Collagen, a firer that gives your skin strength and elasticity is depleted by six per cent every year due to smoking. Smoking leads to narrowing of the blood vessels, which reduces the blood supply to organs (including skin) thus depriving the skin of oxygen and vital nutrients. Smokers tend to have smoker’s wrinkles around the mouth, leathery skin and a lifeless looking complexion.

Quit smoking using strategies like counselling, exercising, nicotine-replacement products or medications.

Diet: Limit your consumption of simple carbohydrates, soft drinks, and processed foods. Sugary foods can lead to stiff and inflexible skin.

“Eat a well-balanced nutritious diet that includes a variety of dark-coloured fruits and vegetables which are full of anti-oxidants and necessary vitamins”, says Rashmi Shetty, cosmetic physician (who has many Bollywood actors among her clients), consultant at Nuevo Skin Clinic, Hyderabad. Also include lean protein (low-fat/skim milk, poultry), good fats (olive oil, flax seeds), water (3-4 litres/ day), complex carbohydrates (whole wheat bread or pasta) and nuts (walnuts, peanuts). Women need to pay attention to their vitamin E, folic acid, haemoglobin, calcium and B12 levels.

Exercising– Inactive lifestyle is one of the greatest maladies today. Regular activity keeps our skin younger longer by improving blood circulation to the skin, keeping our muscles toned and making our skin thicker, stronger and more flexible. Exercising also reduces stress levels and improves sleep. Incorporate any kind of physical activity at least 3-4 times in a week for 30 minutes or more.

Exercising: Inactive lifestyle is one of the greatest maladies today. Regular activity keeps our skin younger longer by improving blood circulation to the skin, keeping our muscles toned and making our skin thicker, stronger and more flexible. Exercising also reduces stress levels and improves sleep. Incorporate any kind of physical activity at least 3-4 times in a week for 30 minutes or more.

Alcohol: Consuming more than one drink per day on a daily basis is considered excessive drinking. Alcohol is a toxin for the body and has a dehydrating effect on the skin, magnifying any pre-existing conditions such as facial wrinkles and fine lines. It also leads to depletion of vitamins and minerals, which are very important for a youthful skin. Alcohol consumption can also lead to dilating your blood vessels, which can eventually lead to broken capillaries in your face, creating a flushed appearance, especially in the cheek and nose region.

Cut down your drinking by deciding how many days a week you will drink, knowing the standard drink sizes, pacing yourself while drinking, counselling, medication etc.

Lack of sleep: Sleep gives rest to your muscles. Lack of sleep shows on the face with tiredness and dark circles under the eyes.

Get 6-8 hours of sleep daily. Improve your sleep by exercising, avoiding large meals late at night and relaxation techniques like meditation.

Stress: Chronic stress can elevate the hormone cortisol in the body. Cortisol accelerates the degeneration of collagen and elastin and causes thinning of the skin. Stress can also lead to acne. Frowning perpetually can also cause your face muscles to actually conform to that movement.

To reduce stress:
Inducing ageing, try leading a healthy lifestyle and maintaining a positive attitude.

Hormone levels: Fluctuations in hormone levels during adolescence or menopause can effect how fast your skin ages.

Get a gynaecological checkup. You might be treated for PCOD during adolescence and be given HRT (hormone replacement therapy) during menopausal stage.

Skin care Routine
Buy products compatible with your skin type rather than being swayed by fashion trends. Cleanse your face with a mild face wash 2-3 times per day. Avoid bathing with very hot water and for a long time as it removes the natural oils from your skin. Keep your skin well moisturised. Apply SPF cream on a regular basis as it not only protects you from the sun but also skin ageing from artificial light sources like halogen and CFL (Compact Fluorescent Lamp or ‘energy saving lights’). Even watching TV excessively or sitting in front of the computer without SPF cream ages your skin.

Anti-ageing treatments
 
Botox :Botox performed at the right place at the right time is a non-surgical, anti-ageing procedure for treating wrinkles and fine lines.  Tiny facial injections are given to relax the muscles which cause the lines to fade.

Fillers : Injectable skin fillers like Hyaluronic acid plump up the skin thereby reducing wrinkles and restoring the shape of the skin and sunken cheeks.

Peels : Peels made of glycolic acid etc. are skin-friendly solutions that remove the top dead layer of the skin and expose newer skin, thereby reducing fine skin lines and treating acne among others.

Laser :
Laser treatments can be used to improve sun-damaged skin, lighten freckles and other dermatological conditions.

Microdermabrasion:
Aluminum oxide crystals are used to exfoliate the surface layer of the skin. This procedure improves skin tone and resilience.

To look beautiful and have a glow on your face, you need to feel happy within. How fast your skin ages can be regulated through good habits and intelligent choices. It is never too late to start looking after your skin. Start today.

Prachi Patodia Saraf is a health enthusiast and marathon runner.She has a Bachelors'in Management From The Wharton School(USA)


    
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