We can't hold back time, nor can we prevent the ageing process but we can slow down ageing of our skin. Some people seem to become social media stars overnight because they continue to look far younger than their age. Their answer seems to be:
1) stay out of the sun
2) avoid sugary foods
3) drink lots of water.
Yes we do need the sun for our vitamin D and for our healthy bones but what they mean is, sun exposure which starts to harm our skin. Good genes are thrown into the mix as well but some dermatologists calculate that UV exposure is the cause of about 90% of skin ageing. They reckon 10-15 minutes of exposure on a sunny day can give you sufficient vitamin D, you don't even have to expose your face and neck. It could be your arms or legs. Compare the skin on your tummy or your inner thigh with that on your face and you'll see the difference between unexposed and regularly sun-exposed skin.
Apart from giving you problems later on in life with pigmentation, sun exposure starts a reaction in your skin whereby the collagen is gradually broken down. Collagen is the material which gives the soft, smooth feel to your skin. It's what all the cosmetic companies try to give you in a cream.
Imagine a lattice pie (because I love food!). You have the vertical and horizontal pieces of pastry weaving neatly and smoothly in and out of each other. In the lower layers of your skin called the dermis, you have the same structure where the vertical weave is your collagen and the horizontal is your elastin. Together they give structure, turgor, softness and elasticity to your skin.
Then comes a sugary diet: sweets, fizzy drinks, processed foods, cereal bars and many more. Now imagine the sugar from this diet has a reaction with proteins in your body in a process called glycation. This reaction has an inflammatory effect on the body and is detrimental to the vertical and horizontal weave of your skin. If this diet continues, eventually the collagen and elastin fibres become weak and distorted, they bunch up, they lose their flexibility and become rigid so they can't flow smoothly over each other. Your skin loses its tone and you get the beginnings of lines and wrinkles that form small pillow shapes, usually around the eyes first.
Your skin cells depend on good nutrients to keep them healthy. They are only as good as the food and drink you give them. If you commissioned the best seamstress and gave them the cheapest most rubbish material, you would get crap fashioned in the best way possible.
Where do I start? Our skin cells need water for the flow in and out of nutrients and oxygen. We need water in the upper layers of skin in a substance called Natural Moisturising Factor. We need water for various enzymatic and chemical reactions that take place including natural skin desquamation (exfoliating). If these reactions don't happen properly they have a knock-on effect on other processes such as hormones, antibodies, absorption of nutrients and vitamins. Proteins and enzymes in our bodies work better in a fluid atmosphere. Without sufficient water, our skin can develop conditions like eczema, keratosis pilaris and scaly skin to name a few. Our bodies are made up of mostly water, so it would be good to try to maintain this.
I'm throwing in an extra one here. If your skincare is not right for your skin, causing low-level inflammation, redness or even spots, it is helping age your skin. Ditch it. Change it. Even cosmetics can cause inflammation that is detrimental.