Skin is fundamental for looking attractive. Dr Zeenat Farooq identifies factors that accelerate the skin ageing
Looking attractive is something fundamental. A healthy and young looking skin forms the epitome of body language, but there are various factors which can impact skin health and lead to its premature ageing.
Genetics: Our genetic makeup can determine how early wrinkles would appear in certain individuals. In other words, some people are more prone to the effects of early skin ageing than others. However, adopting a healthy lifestyle right from the beginning can help manage this condition.
Make-up: Almost all women use cosmetics at an alarming rate which has tremendously increased because of media exposure and increased access. However, what most of us ignore is that these products contain a number of added ingredients which accumulate in the dermis over a long period. Too much makeup also hampers oxygenation of the skin. Consequently, these make the skin more fragile and hence prone to the effects of ageing.
Smoking: Cigarettes contain a huge array of harmful chemicals, which not only affect the respiratory system but also impact physiological processes including increased skin deterioration. Toxins negatively affect oxygenation of body tissues and impair tissue regeneration. Settling of volatile chemicals in smoke on skin also leads to slow clogging of skin pores.
No sun–protection: Use of sun protection means using an umbrella, scarf and also regularly using sunscreen is one of the most important ways of avoiding accelerated skin ageing since the ever-increasing UV radiation content in sunlight is amongst the main causal agents of skin ageing. Sunscreens should be used throughout the year and not only in the summer season for best results since UV rays can impart their harmful effects 365 days a year.
Insomnia: Reduction in sleeping hours or compromised sleep quality, either due to excessive workload or due to medical conditions like insomnia, anxiety and depression can accelerate skin ageing due to increase in the number of stress hormones circulating in the blood. An adult human should sleep for 6-7 hours for normal circadian rhythms and general health.
Poor Nutrition: This factor has the most significant effect on skin ageing. Poor quality nutrition accelerates the premature appearance of wrinkles. Excessive consumption of fats, carbohydrates and processed foods, which are again high in fats and carbohydrates with negligible micro-nutrient and protein supplementation, affects collagen and elastin synthesis, proteins which are most important for muscle tone underneath the skin. As a result, skin ageing appears much faster in people with such eating habits. Many food products like processed meats are also loaded with harmful toxins which can promote the growth of tumours, build up in blood and impair oxygenation which indirectly affects skin health.
Lifestyle: A sedentary lifestyle is the mother of all evils. In addition, to the increase in the rates of obesity, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, non-alcoholic fatty liver etc, it is also responsible for skin ageing. Exercise helps to maintain a toned body shape, promotes tissue oxygenation and regeneration, which positively influences skin health and also stimulates protein bio-synthesis including that of collagen and elastin. Exercise also helps in the elimination of a number of toxins out of the system which also improves skin health.
The rule of thumb here is that people should start caring for their skin right from their youth. There is a huge variety of substances in our environment promoting skin ageing. Stress as well as sitting for long hours in front of your phone or laptop can also contribute to skin ageing. Try to avoid unhealthy foods, stress and reduce the effective number of hours spent on the computer regularly. Exercise also is a very important factor. Although there are many means available now to fight skin ageing, right from topical cosmetics to cosmetic surgery, the best way to delay skin ageing is caring for the skin throughout your life, right from the childhood or early youth when skin ageing is a remote problem.
(Author is a Research Fellow at the Department of Biotechnology, University of Kashmir.)