Let’s be honest. Women don’t have it easy. We are continually navigating the world with unsettled hormones for a significant chunk of our lives. From puberty, to fertility, and menopause it can seem like our bodies and minds can’t catch a break.
As a 43-year-old woman, with a three year old who thought I was entering perimenopause to only find out I was pregnant with my second child – I’ve certainly felt the full force of emotions and hormones over the last few months and my skin has faced it’s fair share of challenges.
When it comes to our skin, it undoubtedly reflects what’s going on internally and does change as we age, with significant alterations occurring as we enter our 40s. So, what is happening?
This time period links with a gradual drop in the hormone oestrogen, preparing the body for eventual menopause. Natural cell turnover of the skin also slows down, which can lead to the appearance of dull skin, discoloration and fine lines and wrinkles due to the loss of collagen and elastin (the essential building blocks of our skin). Sebum production also ceases, so our skin becomes prone to dryness.
If that wasn’t enough, adult acne can occur as testosterone increases, our lymphatic system slows down which can cause puffiness and the reduction in oestrogen also brings the thinning of skin and related bone loss affecting facial structure and facial volume.
So now we know the reality, what can we do about it?
If you’re not already using anti-aging skin care products in your 40s, now is the time to start to minimise the natural effects of ageing, while keeping your complexion healthy and glowing.
Working in the beauty industry I know there can be a lot of style without substance. In all my years as a plastic surgeon and with my experience of understanding skin, inside out, I have come to the fundamental belief that our skincare doesn’t have to be complex or expensive.
There are three essentials I absolutely recommend. Backed by decades of research and clinical trials these products and their ingredients are proven to make a difference at a cellular level.
When it comes to visibly improving the texture and appearance of your skin while preventing signs of aging, prescription Retinoids and over the counter retinols is the golden bullet. Retinoids are a class of ingredients derived from vitamin A and are great for targeting pigmentation, texture concerns, clogged pores, fine lines, and wrinkles. They also help build up collagen within the skin. They are an absolute no-no for those who are pregnant or breast feeding (although there are alternatives available) and some people can experience side sensitivity, dryness or redness especially if opting for prescription retinoids so do seek expert advice. If you are in your twenties/thirties/forties and looking strictly for preventative aging benefits, I recommend using an over-the-counter retinol. I always recommend using this product at night - and an SPF during the day is a must!
Antioxidant vitamin C
After cleansing, reach for a serum and/or moisturizer that’s rich in antioxidants. Vitamin C serum is a non-negotiable part of any good morning skincare routine! Vitamin C acts as a safety net to minimise potential damage from free radicals. These little nasties are highly reactive molecules found in air pollution, cigarette smoke, drugs and pesticides. They damage the DNA of your skin which causes premature aging.
SPF 50 sunscreen
SPF not only protects against the sun’s harmful rays to help prevent skin cancer, it’s also one of the best antiaging products you can buy as 90% of skin aging is caused by UV damage. Always, always use sunscreen during the day and be sure to apply it generously. Yes - even with our famous British summers! Yes, even on dull winter days!
Ultimately finding your own routine, favourite products and setting 2 minutes a day aside to give your skin consistent care will really help address those areas of concern and change. Your skin will also really thank you for good quality sleep, keeping well hydrated and eating a vitamin nutrient diet.
We can’t stop the clock, but we can help to slow it down, rebuild and reinvigorate with the right skin care and treatments, which can have an amazing impact on not only our skin but our overall wellbeing and confidence. And always remember – you’re blooming lovely!
By Dr. Lubna Khan-Salim
Lubna is a surgeon, skin care expert and founder of timetobloom.uk