A curious fact about ageing is that many of the signs of ageing we later learn to dread like fine lines, pigmented skin, loss of elasticity, hair greying and thinning donâ€™t rear their ugly faces until MANY years after the behaviours that gave rise to them. Take smoking for instance. We can smoke and smoke and smoke in our teens and still look hot and feel we are getting away with it only to discover in our mid twenties that we look 5 -10 years older than our friends. What you do now will show up on your face many years laterâ€¦
So what can we do now to keep looking younger later?
The first thing we can do is recognize our enemiesâ€¦ sunlight, alcohol, fatty foods, smoking and last but not least caffeine. As we shall see, each damages us in different and not always predictable ways.
Ahhh summer. Nice isnâ€™t it? Not if you want to avoid premature ageing! We all know UV damages our skin and gives us cancer blah, blah, blah but what we might not know is why UV exposure is so damaging. Basically your face looks as it good as it does when youâ€™re young because it contains lots of collagen which keeps your skin nice and elastic. When your skin loses that elasticity lines begin to develop and we start to look old.
Probably a major reason we donâ€™t take UV seriously is that we canâ€™t see it; UV has a wavelength shorter than that of visible light. Worse UV comes in several forms. UVA for long wavelength, UVB or medium wavelength and UVC or short wavelength. When we talk about UV we usually are talking about UVB, itâ€™s what the SPF factor on your sunscreen protects you against. So what you ask? Well sunscreen only protects you against UVB and only moderately against UVA. This is because UVB can be easily measured but UVA canâ€™t. This matters because UVA penetrates deeper into your skin than UVB and is believed to be a major contributor to the emergence of lines and wrinkles.
So what can we do? Well the best thing to do is STAY out of the sun completely but then you might suffer from vitamin D deficiency which isnâ€™t good either. Realistically avoid the sun between 10am-4pm if you can. Big hats are a good idea but are hard to pull off without looking sad. Wear sunscreen everyday and reapply every 2 hours Why? Your sunscreen dissipates with sweat and can vary in its coverage after that dip in the sea. Wear sunscreen daily even to work since UV penetrates the glass in your car whilst youâ€™re driving to work. UV laughs at cloudy days since clouds DO NOT reduce UV exposure so not wearing sunscreen on that overcast day isnâ€™t doing you any good.
Avoid ski slopes. Just joking but reflections from surfaces still will burn and age your skin so sailors for instance should always wear sunscreen to reduce reflected UV light off the water. Slopping on that t shirt does very little to UVB and UVA light. Better to buy a sunscreen with both UVB and UVA protection. Such sunscreens will have compounds like titanium oxide (sounds cool doesnâ€™t it?) that prevents UVA light penetrating your skin.
Avoid tanning salons. Really! Tanning wonâ€™t make you any prettier just a whole lot older later in life when you really want to hide your age.