I turned 40 the other day. It didn’t hurt, strangely enough, but it got me thinking about all the lotions and potions I’ve smeared all over myself to keep the wrinkles, age spots, and saggy bits a bay when I should have been looking at my daily habits as well.
I’ve had facials that cost more than a week’s groceries and I’ve spent the GDP of a small country on bottles of fragrant but largely ineffective goo. Are there less expensive ways to be kind to your body and slow down mother nature and how do we work with her to grow older without the bankruptcy and angst?
Don’t get me wrong, I want to look good and I love a good tub of fragrantly expensive goo but I feel the need to be a bit more zen about the whole thing. My beauty budget would appreciate some thrift as well!
So, here are some tips, tricks, recipes and advice for those of you who are younger and want to get a jump start on mother nature and those of us who have put a few miles on the clock but don’t want to show it just yet.
Why do we start to show the signs of ageing?
As we get older we produce less collagen and elastin. It’s simply part of the ageing process. Collagen gives the skin structural strength while elastin keeps it elastic and smooth. Older skin is generally thinner and a little dryer which is why we start to see fine lines around the eyes. You may also discover that your once even complexion looks a little bit irregular and that you have developed enlarged pores, pigmentation, texture or dry spots.
What to look out for?
- Sun Damage is the main cause of ageing and tired looking skin (well, besides actual ageing). UV rays cause serious damage including dark spots, wrinkles, and dullness.
- Crow’s feet and expression lines start to show up around the eyes and mouth. These areas are usually full of tiny little expression lines and they simply become deeper as the skin loses elasticity.
- Age spots are due to excess melanin production in the skin cells because of sun exposure, hormonal changes and general wear and tear.
Here is a post on hyperpigmentation and how to improve it.
- Droopy eyelids appear because the skin around the eyes is the thinnest and most delicate on the whole body. It is one of the first places to show a loss of elasticity. You may also find texture on eyelids when applying eyeshadow or eyeliner and your once perfect concealer may settle into fine lines under your eyes.
- Decollete wrinkling and sagging breasts are also the results of a loss of elasticity. Sun damage is a major problem for the chest area because the skin is prone to hyperpigmentation and deep wrinkling. As the skin thins and becomes less elastic it is more likely to dry out and wrinkle between the breasts. Creases can form if you are in the habit of sleeping on your side instead of on your back.
Here is a post on how to keep your breasts firm and prevent sagging.
- Loose skin on the cheeks and along the jawline (think “jowls” madam) appear as the skin loses elasticity and sags. Wrinkles appear around the mouth and chin and the eyes start to look sunken or dragged down.
Here is a step by step facial massage.
- Crepey skin and a sagging neck can be an early sign of ageing skin. Many women forget to protect their neck from the sun. The delicate skin dries out and stretches south, just like everything else and before you know it, you have elephant skin where your neck used to be.
What can be done to fight the wrinkles?
- Catch those ZZZ’s During the night, your body produces human growth hormone which helps to repair damage and build healthy new cells. You also produce antioxidants that fight the free radical damage from exposure to UV rays and environmental pollution. Unfortunately, lack of sleep also produces the stress hormone cortisol which is involved in the breakdown of collagen and elastin.
Want to know how to get better sleep?
- Be a little more gentle
- Gently remove makeup and impurities from your skin with cleansing balms, lotions or oils. Harsh cleansers can strip vital moisture from the skin and leave it dry and tight.
- ALWAYS remove your makeup before bed to allow your skin to rest and repair. Stale makeup can clog pores and there is such a thing as adult acne!
- Don’t over exfoliate with manual scrubs. Try using gentle peels or a simple face cloth. Only use an exfoliating product once or twice a week.
- Hot water will dry your skin excessively. Use warm water instead. It may feel strange at first but you will avoid redness, broken capillaries and irritation.
- Moisturise frequently. We all slap a moisturizer on in the morning and at night before bed but what about the rest of the day? Try a moisturizing mist to give your skin a boost and to freshen up tired looking makeup.
- Protect your skin from the sun. Always! You should wear sunscreens all year. Even in winter, the watery sun can damage your skin. SPF 15 will not cut it. Try layering your sun protection with a dedicated sunscreen and skincare products that contain SPF as well.
- Nourish your skin with serums and masks as often as you can. Sheet masks full off goodness are wonderful but be careful with clay masks that can have a drying effect if you leave them on to fully dry.
- Massage the wrinkles away! Improve circulation and give your skin a healthy glow by doing a facial massage at least once a week. Use nourishing oils like good old olive oil or marula oil.
- Eat a healthy diet. You need as many healthy nutrients as you can lay your hands on! Some wrinkle-busting foods include:
- Olive oil is full of polyphenols which are powerful antioxidants that reduce age-related cell damage.
- Yoghurt is rich in calcium and good bacteria for strong bones and a healthy gut.
- Fish contains Omega-3 fatty acids help to fight inflammation in the body and improve the skin’s ability to retain moisture by keeping cell membranes healthy.
- Organic Cocoa is rich in flavonoids that keep blood vessels healthy which improves blood flow to the skin. Try good, organic dark chocolate with at least 60% cocoa solids. Yes, I said you could eat chocolate!
- Nuts provide the body with unsaturated fats, vitamins, minerals and other phytochemicals like antioxidants to fight and repair environmental damage.
- Blueberries are full of vitamin C to help fight the signs of ageing by reducing the effects of free radical damage from sun exposure.
- Pineapple contains enzymes that help to soften the skin and is full of vitamin C and amino acids that repair.
- Citrus fruits like lemons, limes and oranges all contain vitamin C that aids in skin repair and protection.
- Pomegranate seeds are full of antioxidants that fight free radicals and preserve collagen.
- Watermelon is packed with lycopene that protects the skin from sun damage.
- Avocado contains anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids.
- Olives are a source of polyphenols and other phytonutrients that help protect DNA from damage.
- Sweet potato is full of vitamin A that helps to revitalise damaged collagen and fight off the signs of ageing.
- Cooked tomatoes will provide you with lycopene that helps to protect the skin from sun damage.
- Oatmeal is anti-inflammatory and also helps to repair damage due to free radicals.
- Turmeric is anti-inflammatory and contains high amounts of antioxidants that protect the skin from free radicals and ultraviolet light.
- Saffron contains carotenoids that have an antioxidant effect.
- Cilantro is detoxifying as it helps to remove heavy metals and toxins from the body that cause cell damage and ageing.
- Manuka honey is anti-inflammatory, reduces scarring, hydrates the skin, helps to prevent the loss of collagen and helps to repair cellular damage.
- Green tea is full of antioxidants that protect against cell damage.
- Red wine contains an antioxidant called resveratrol that fights the signs of ageing by protecting against cell damage.
- Drink Water! Flush out toxins and hydrate your skin. Read more about why you really should be drinking more water.
- Maintain a healthy weight. This is probably a touchy subject but being overweight also ages us. Your body is under constant stress when it has to carry around excess weight. Your heart and the respiratory system have to work harder to supply your body with oxygen and nutrients. Overeating puts a strain on the digestive system that causes inflammation and stress in the body. This may not show up on the outside at first but over time any imbalances in the body will show up in your skin, hair, and nails. Heavy breasts sag and develop stretch marks more easily. Constant chafing between thighs and under the arms will cause discolouration. Be kind to yourself. I’m working on it myself.
- Get rid of the bad habits darling! As you saw, red wine is full of antioxidants! A glass a day is a good thing but a bottle really isn’t. Alcohol can be full of sugar and empty calories. It also dehydrates the body and causes inflammation. If you are going to drink alcohol, go for clear ones like vodka or gin and behave yourself! Nobody needs dehydrated and inflamed skin. No binge drinking! You really want to quit smoking, you really do! Nicotine constricts the little capillaries in your skin. It prevents it from getting nutrient and oxygen-rich blood. Skin becomes dull and pale because of the lack of circulation. Smoking also depletes vitamin C that helps to protect against and repair damage.
- Lower your stress levels!
Stress hormones cause inflammation in the body. There is some evidence that stress can cause adult acne and premature ageing of the skin. Cortisol not only triggers the body to store fat which makes us put on weight but it also breaks down collagen and elastin! We lose elasticity especially around the eye area where the skin is thinnest.
Easy steps to reduce stress!
- Exercise not only reduces stress levels but it also releases a compound called IL15 into the body that prevents cell death. It also reduces AGEs which are compounds that inhibit collagen and elastin production. In general, exercise improves circulation and releases feel-good hormones that improve your mood.
- Pamper yourself! Take the time to pamper your body. Start at your feet and work all the way up to the top of your head. Take care of your feet, do a body scrub and give yourself a facial, manicure and pedicure. Here are some ideas on how you can pamper your whole body from head to toe!
Recipes for anti-ageing masks
Brighten and Even Skin Tone
1 tablespoon natural yoghurt
1 teaspoon lemon juice
3 drops geranium oil
1 teaspoon rice flour
Mix the ingredients together to form a thick paste. Leave it to sit for a few minutes while you cleanse your skin. Make sure that your face is slightly damp but not wet. Apply the mask in gentle circular motions as a light “scrub”. Leave the mask on for 20 minutes. Rinse with lukewarm water and pat dry. Moisturise as usual.
Deep Moisture Mask
1 tablespoon mashed avocado
1 teaspoon honey
2 drops rosehip oil
Mash the ingredients together. Cleanse with warm water. Apply the mixture to slightly damp skin and leave on for at least 15 minutes. Rinse away with warm water and pat dry. Moisturise as usual.
Combine the clay and the oatmeal. Add all the fluid ingredients to form a paste. Add the geranium oil last and mix. Add a little water if the paste is too thick. Cleanse your skin but don’t dry your face completely. Leave it slightly damp. Apply the mask, avoiding the eye area and leave it on for 15 to 20 minutes. Don’t let the mask dry all the way or it could irritate your skin. Rinse away with warm water and pat dry. Moisturise as usual.
2 tablespoons mashed papaya
1 strawberry (optional)
Mash the fruit together and paint it onto your face, neck and chest. You can even apply it to the tops of your hands. Leave on for 10 to 15 minutes. Rinse away with warm water and moisturise as usual.
1/2 banana – mashed
2 tablespoons chia seeds
1 teaspoon aloe vera gel
Mash the banana and the Aloe Vera gel together. Add the chia seeds and mash together. Allow the mixture to sit for a few minutes while you cleanse your skin. Add a little water if the mixture is too thick. Apply it to your skin in gentle circular motions all over your face but avoiding the eye area. Leave it on for 5 minutes and rinse with warm water. Moisturise as usual.
Vitamin C Bomb Mask
2 fresh or frozen strawberries
1 tablespoon yoghurt
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon oatmeal
Blend the fruit, yoghurt and honey together. Add the oatmeal and allow it to thicken for a few minutes while you cleanse your skin. Add a little cold water if the mixture is too thick. Apply it to your face, neck and chest Lay back and relax for 20 minutes. Rinse away with warm water and pat dry. Moisturise as usual.
Taking care of yourself and feeling good in your skin is as important as taking care of others and giving. There is nothing wrong with taking the time to do a little “maintenance”. It’s not selfish at all.
I’m proud of the life I’ve lived and the miles that I’ve put on this body. I have travelled, had adventures and I’ve done things I didn’t think I was capable of and I have the scars to prove that sometimes, I really wasn’t that capable at all…but I did it anyway.
Getting older isn’t the end of the world and I love seeing a woman of “a certain age” with her own quirky sense of style. You can totally rock black nails in your 50’s! (I’ve seen it) I have purple hair and I’m 40. It’s good to take care of yourself and stay creative and stylish in your own way.
I love masks, spa treatments, manicures and massages. I’ll probably still smear bright green masks all over my wrinkly bits in my 80’s. Actually, I can probably guarantee that I will.
Thank you for reading!