What every 30-plus girl should know about natural anti-ageing products

Beautiful aged face

Ever wondered how one little pot of gooey stuff can combat wrinkles, saggy skin, age spots and tired complexions? Have you felt baffled by anti-ageing science or nervous of the natural alternatives? Here’s a simple guide to ageing skin and the natural ingredients that give it a helping hand.

Do you have fresh, youthful, dewy skin that glows when you wake each morning, feels bouncy under your fingertips and radiates light from all angles? No? Join the club!

Our skin, especially our elements-exposed face, takes a proper battering as we age. It’s hard to imagine in our twenties that we might at some point have skin like our mothers; it’s marginally more possible in our thirties and a harsh reality in our forties. Yes, dark circles, age spots, wrinkles and bedsheet creases across our cheeks virtually the entire morning will come to us all. Even the little crepey lines that bleed from our lips, that only grans have, they’re on the way too. Joy!

But where we have an advantage over our mums and grans is we are more likely to have a healthy diet and wear sunscreen, and less likely to smoke, have nine children or work down a pit. For which we have to be grateful. Plus, where anti-ageing products and treatments once extended only to a knob of lard and a sweep of rouge, we have a squillion different products and therapies designed to help our skin age beautifully.

The problem is, most products appear to be packed with man-made chemicals that have the potential to irritate, both us and our environment, and it can feel like you need a science degree just to read the packaging.

So, what’s a girl to do if she’d rather her anti-ageing regime was a little less natural than surrendering unassisted to Father Time but a little more natural than the average ‘miracle’ pot of wrinkle-busting goop? Here’s our guide to ageing skin and the ingredients to look out for in the natural anti-ageing products at BigGreenSmile.com.

What happens to our skin when it ages?

Our skin has three layers: the epidermis, the dermis and the subcutaneous tissue. The simplest way to understand the ageing process is this; the epidermis is the outer most layer, and it thins with age. The dermis provides the structural support, or springiness, via collagen and elastin fibres, and these get tired and wear out with age. The subcutaneous tissue provides the fat cells that keep our faces plump. We lose these cells as we age, and so our faces sag. It all conspires together to create wrinkles. So far, so depressing? It gets worse.

Our skin quality deteriorates when the molecules within our skin cells are attacked by free radicals and left in a damaged state. Free radicals are unstable molecules in our environment and can be caused by, for example, pollution, cigarette smoke and herbicides. Exposure to ultraviolet light, UVA and UVB rays from sunlight causes immense damage alone, with some reports suggesting it causes up to 90% of the symptoms of premature ageing.

An attacked skin molecule can itself become a free radical, thus triggering a chain reaction that can lead to the destruction of the entire skin cell. The older we are the more free radicals we accumulate. This is what causes all the bother for the epidermis, dermis and so on.

The good news

Anti-oxidants are the enemy of free radicals, and our bodies produce them naturally. They ‘neutralise’ or repair free radicals and break the chain reaction that eventually causes skin cells to break down.

Before the age of 30 our bodies produce enough anti-oxidants to be able to cope with the onslaught of free radicals. After that, we could do with a bit of help. And of course, if you want to keep chemical nasties away from your skin a natural anti-ageing product is the best option.

So, what exactly is a ‘natural’ anti-ageing product?

Good question. There are hundreds of anti-ageing creams, serums, oils and cleansing products available, but only some of them can claim to be natural. As with all natural products, a natural anti-ageing product will not contain potentially harmful ingredients such as phthalates, sulfates, parabens or synthetic fragrances. Depending on the product, its key ingredients may also be organically derived, suitable for vegans, free from petroleum-based ingredients and of course, the best will not be tested on animals. The packaging may be recyclable or even made from recycled materials.

Natural anti-ageing products attempt to correct, or at least slow down, the damage that free radicals cause by feeding anti-oxidants, such as Vitamin C, E, Green Tea and CoQ10 to the skin.

CoQ10

CoQ10, which can be found in natural anti-ageing products, is an example of an anti-oxidant naturally found in every cell in our bodies. It’s an energy source for our cells, but diminishes as we get older, which is why we can benefit from putting a bit more back in. Whether you're after a day cream, night cream, serum or toner, here are a few to try

Vitamins C and E

Vitamins C and E, found naturally in fruit and vegetables, are also anti-oxidants and have tremendous abilities to fight free radical damage and help restore elasticity and tone. For use in natural anti-ageing products, Vitamin C is commonly derived from citrus fruits and Vitamin E from wheatgerm, olive oil and vegetable oils.

BigGreenSmile is packed with beauty products bursting with vitamin goodness that will help your skin fight time. Check them out here.

Black Pine

Korres’ labs have discovered that Black Pine is an excellent anti-oxidant. In the range of Black Pine products (there are cleansers through to moisturisers for different skin types) anti-oxidant-rich Black Pine extract is combined with Black Pine-derived Epigallocatechin. Epigallocatechin has strong anti-inflammatory properties combined with exceptional firming action as well as protecting against free radicals and the breakdown of collagen in the dermis. See the full Korres range here.

Black Pine is just one of the natural anti-oxidants to be found in natural anti-wrinkle products. Others include extracts of blueberries, pomegranate, carrot, magnolia bark, oak bark, wild rose and rosehip.

UVA / UVB filters

Of course, the best preventative measure you can take against premature ageing is to always wear sunscreen, or daily moisturising products containing sunscreen, from an early age, to avoid midday sun completely and never to sunbathe (our children will find sunbathing a bafflingly daft activity). It is never to late to add sunscreen to your daily routine, and many of our products contain it.

Of course, the whole shebang presumes that you want to slow-down the ageing process and smooth out those wrinkles. As the beautiful photo above shows, there is life in those wrinkles, and where there is life there is beauty too. 

Photo credit: Linh Ngan

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