Most beauty features tend to cover the needs of our skin decade by decade: 20s, 30s and upwards. But ten years is a long time. Other ‘coming of age’ multiples – 14: puberty; 21: the key of the door; 28: arguably the age at which we reach adulthood; 36: maturity; 42: the start of menopause and so on – may be more helpful. Mary Linehan spoke to three experts in skincare and lifestyle to see if they could shed any light on just when are the critical years for aging. Is aging decimal, or should we be thinking 7 Up etc in the manner of all those television documentaries?
ACCORDING TO Marie Veronique, MD of eponymous Marie Veronique Organics, the hip San Francisco-based organic skin care specialists, “Every seven years actually falls more with physiological parameters, since the body renews itself on a cellular level within each seven year duration. So a person is, in a sense, completely different at the end of each seven year span.”
“The biggest factor when it comes to marking changes due to ageing is hormonal, she explains. “Puberty is important; by late twenties hormones have settled down, then another hormonal change in women occurs in the early to late thirties, when one of the biggest hallmarks is that skin tends to be much drier than it used to be.” Pre-or perimenopause is yet another change. “”is generally announces itself with a range of symptoms that are quite mild, but certainly skin changes are some of the earliest markers. Menopause is the big one – the change of life, with more dramatic symptoms – and then there is that period in life nobody talks about much: post-menopause.” Admitting to being in the last category herself, she continues, “I can say that this is where you notice the most changes in your skin. You don’t have the same levels of hormones needed to produce components of the dermal matrix – collagen, elastin, hyaluronic acid – that make for plump, youthful skin. “e collapse of the supporting structures causes the sagging and wrinkling we associate with old age.”
Glenda Bailey, aromatherapist and founder of BalmBalm Natural and Organic Skincare, concurs, but throws in some emotional turmoil for good measure. “I’m always stunned at how each decade does actually bring on its own set of peculiarities. I find the seven year thing tends to be on a more emotional level. So these things could definitely have an effect on skin.” Glenda continues, “If at the seven year stage there is a certain restlessness followed by change – for better or worse – of, say, a relationship, business or habitat, or just mindset, take a good long look at how you are. “is stage could be stressful or blissful – very rarely neutral. Human nature dictates that we have these peaks and troughs, so we shouldn’t be alarmed by them. Stress can be addressed by taking a lifestyle check and making some changes – usually extra care of your skin and general wellbeing. Bliss, while it is ‘blissful’, can often lead to a gung-ho attitude that says ‘let’s have another drink, or chocolate’ and ‘why bother with my great skincare regime when I’m looking so good/bad anyway?!’ Just living through those seven year periods impacts our looks – so, in effect, time gets written on our faces and bodies. Marie Veronique asserts that the changes we see are part of the growth and maturation process, though certain ‘sins’ of youth hasten this process. “ey’re the usual suspects: smoking, alcohol and drug abuse and modern lifestyles. She feels that these are habits that we acquire to relieve stress – and that this is the real culprit that leads to many of the changes we see: those wrinkles, dry skin and slack jowls. She, too, suggests that it’s important to develop anti-stress strategies.
So, what does happen when we turn 28 plus? Michael Ohan, MD of best-selling Aussie cosmeceutical brand Nuveo, adds, “Unfortunately for women, unlike the male of the species who remains unchallenged hormonally for the rest of his life, there are changes approximately every seven years, some noticeable, some not, generally ceasing once menopause arrives. Women’s hormonal structures are constantly changing which contributes to the aging process. Plus today’s modern lifestyles put extra stress on our bodies, again showing in the skin.” Prevention is better than a cure, Michael continues, “and that’s certainly true when it comes to ageing – whether you’re 21 or 60. When you’re 60, you’ll still want to look 40!” Of course, we don’t wake up suddenly on a big birthday and find that we have more wrinkles than the day before. “It happens over time, a gradual process. At age five, 90% of our skin is Type III collagen, keeping it plump and firm. By the time we reach 50 that percentage is down to ten! Our bodies are made up of water (hyaluronic acid) and proteins – all of which degrade over time… shrinking us if you like. “e key to keeping young looking is hydration – not to be confused with moisturisation, which evaporates after a couple of hours [but] proper hydration at a cellular level. Good diet and exercise is essential; your skincare products need to be able to target your concerns – and everything else in moderation.” So, we’re all agreed then. Whichever way you calculate it, keeping your skin ageless adds up to a multiple of hormones and hydration, good food, plenty of exercise and lower stress levels…