As we get older, so too does our skin. The rate at which we produce collagen and elastin is reduced, and this leads to sagging, and lines and wrinkles (boo!). However, keeping our skin moisturised can help delay the appearance of ageing - and make us feel great!
Regardless of how old you are, moisturising should be an integral part of your daily skincare routine. That’s twice a day, 365 days a year. And if you’re not currently doing this, start now - no matter if you have oily, combination, dry, acne-prone or normal skin. You may be a 20-something with amazing skin, but trust me, give it a few years and you’ll be wishing you had hit the moisturiser sooner (am I right, ladies in your thirties?!). The humble moisturiser is the cornerstone of any great skincare regimen - without it our largest, most visible organ would be dry, prone to premature ageing and look very dull.
What’s in moisturiser?
There are tons of moisturisers out there that claim to perform miracles, but there are certain key ingredients that all moisturisers include, and which actually make skin softer and smoother. “What are these amazing ingredients?” I hear you shout. Ok, ok, hang on - I’ll tell you…
Ok, so you will find at least one of three types of ingredients in moisturisers which help keep us - well - moisturised. These are humectants, occlusives and emollients, each of which has individual properties that, when combined, create the ideal moisturising product. Yes, the names sound a bit science-y, but stay with me.
Humectants absorb water from the atmosphere into the epidermis (the outer layer of skin), hydrating the skin - which makes them great for dry skin. You may see ingredients such as glycerin, hyaluronic acid or propylene glycerol listed on the back of a moisturiser, which are all types of humectants, though there are loads more out there too.
Emollients themselves don’t actually add moisturise, but work like mortar, filling in cracks and gaps between skin cells. They are great for dry complexions and conditions such as eczema and psoriasis, as they soothe dry skin, prevent inflammation and keep us feeling soft and smooth. Common emollients include shea butter, aloe vera and ceramides.
Similar to emollients, occlusives don’t add moisture, but instead form a protective film over the skin, locking in the moisture we already have. Occlusives are generally oil-based and common ones include petroleum jelly, beeswax, lanolin and jojoba oil.
What is it about moisturiser that helps us age better?
In our twenties, the vast majority of us have (or had) dreamy, soft and supple skin. That comes down to the fact that skin cell turnover is regular, and our bodies naturally develop copious amounts of collagen and elastin. However, as we approach our thirties, collagen and elastin production diminishes slightly, and skin cell turnover is slower - so our skin quality isn’t quite as good as it was. This decreases more and more, the older we get, leading to the onset of lines and wrinkles.
However, according to the British Journal of Dermatology, using good moisturiser will help wrinkles develop at a much slower rate than if we were to leave our skin dry and unmoisturised.
In your thirties and forties, you should be looking for a moisturiser that contains anti-ageing properties. Hyaluronic acid is a must as it is a naturally occurring substance that helps lighten dark areas, and absorbs water in the skin like a sponge, keeping it feeling soft, plumped and fabulous.
The older we get, the drier our skin becomes. Obviously this doesn’t happen overnight - it’s a gradual process - but you will start to see a difference as you age. As we reach our fifties, sixties and beyond, our skin also becomes thinner and more fragile, so a lovely rich moisturiser will become your new best friend, helping to hydrate the skin and keep it feeling wonderful, and provide added protection.
Moisturiser alone will not stop wrinkles, but it certainly helps combat them for longer. Keeping your skin hydrated through drinking tons of water, not smoking or drinking too much alcohol, using a moisturiser best suited to your skin type, eating a healthy diet - and - of course, using a high SPF sunscreen are all important for great skin, no matter what age you are. And if you’re simply blessed with amazing genes, well, good for you!