Years ago, my dad sent me a funny photo of my mum peering into a magnifying mirror. He’d written a caption on the back which said, “Mrs EJ Davie in her battle to retain those last remaining threads of youth!” Thirty years on and I am fighting that same the same battle although these days we have an arsenal of evidence-based products that protect your skin from aging. None of these products are more effective and inexpensive than our first line of defense which is to drink plenty of water, eat a healthy diet and apply sunscreen.
Two proven antiaging skin formulations
Let me start by saying I am no expert, but I have cherry-picked my way through the literature, and on a limited budget, have chosen the following skincare products which have been proven to protect your skin from aging.
Vitamin C with vitamin E (tocopherol) and ferulic acid.
Anti-aging nutrient Vitamin C works inside the body and on the skin. It’s a powerful antioxidant that protects against free-radical and environmental UV damage. Used in a serum vitamin C brightens the skin, minimises certain types of hyperpigmentation and evidence suggests it may help with collagen production to protect your skin from aging.
Being highly unstable, Vitamin C must be stabilised with other antioxidants like vitamin E and ferulic acid.
Tretinoin or retinoic acid
For all factors of aging, the ingredient with the most science behind it to protect your skin from aging is retinoic acid, also known as tretinoin, belonging to the Vitamin A family. Scientific evidence shows that tretinoin slows down the breakdown of collagen in the skin and stimulates the production of new collagen. It also helps to brighten the skin by increasing cellular renewal on the epidermis – the outer layer of skin.
Retinoic acid is available on prescription and depending on how sensitive your skin is you may need to start with a lower concentration or cream formulation. Visit your GP or skin specialist to seek advice. Compared to many off-the-shelf beauty creams it’s relatively inexpensive and the results are noticeable.
NOT proven to work
I bought marine collagen once but kept forgetting to take it and eventually threw it out. According to Dr. Karl, it wouldn’t have worked anyway. Evidently, the collagen protein from a supplement powder is too large to enter the bloodstream, and even if it could penetrate through the endothelial cells into the bloodstream, it would have to break down into 1,000 amino acids and recombine into collagen. Dr. Karl explains the impossibility of this quite well in this short podcast.
and then there’s diet
Have another glass of water while you read this article and make a habit of drinking a glass on the hour every hour if you want your skin to look moist and hydrated. Conversely, avoid the foods and drinks that cause dehydration, like alcohol, excessive salt in your food, coffee, tea, and soft drinks.
Vitamin C-rich foods.
Vitamin C is unstable to heat, so the best way to get it from your diet is through raw foods. To prevent further collagen breakdown, fill up on vitamin C-rich foods including lemons, limes, oranges, guava, avocado kiwi fruit, papaya, blackberries, strawberries, and raw broccoli, and capsicum are great choices to include in the daily diet.
Beta-carotene rich foods
Foods that are yellow and orange are a great indicator of beta carotene which the body uses to convert to vitamin A. Carrots, pumpkin, sweet potato, rockmelon, and leafy greens will help protect mature skin cells.
For skin protection and wound repair, we need foods that are rich in zinc. Oysters, seafood, lean meat, chicken, turkey, and nuts, are all good choices.
Good digestion is the starting place for good health and high fibre foods which help keep the bowel free from accumulated toxins are essential for good skin (and everything else that goes on in the body). Lentils, quinoa, chickpeas, buckwheat, and whole grains should also be incorporated into the diet.