There is a saying that beauty is only skin deep, which rather downplays the importance of skin. It is the largest organ in your body, protecting you against the outside world. But that also means that over the years, your skin takes quite a battering. Few of us want to look dried up and wrinkly, but what if you’re looking for more than hope in a jar? Here are some scientifically proven ways to keep skin looking healthy and youthful for as long as possible, and others not worth the bother…
STAY PALE… AND GET MORE SLEEP
Protect your skin from premature ageing by avoiding too much sun – especially during the current heatwave. The sun’s UV rays damage the skin, destroying collagen, the protein that keeps it firm. One study involving 60-year-old twins found that the twin who got ten hours a week more sun than the other was judged to be 11 years older. My rule is to try to avoid the sun between 11am and 3pm, or when my shadow is shorter than I am. I am also much more methodical about applying at least factor 30 suncream, even when overcast. Lack of sleep will also leave you looking older.
Dr Michael Mosley gives his do’s and do not’s when it comes to skin care routine
STOCK UP ON SKIN FOOD
A traditional Mediterranean diet is good for your skin. Tomatoes deserve a special mention as they are bursting with lycopene, which has been shown to protect the skin from the effects of UV damage.
THE CREAM THAT WORKS
One of the few face creams proven to ‘rejuvenate’ the skin contains tretinoin, a drug usually prescribed as treatment for severe acne. It works by speeding up the rate at which skin cells are shed and replaced – and can mean wrinkles are reduced. In the UK you can get it for cosmetic purposes from a dermatologist, which could cost hundreds of pounds. For research, I bought it online for a fraction of the price, without prescription, from Spain. The brand name is Retirides. If you use tretinoin, avoid the sun, start with a low concentration and use cautiously. And do not use if pregnant.
In the name of science I tried anti-wrinkle jab Botox a few years ago. Does it work? Yes. It irons out frowns by paralysing muscles that cause frowning, and lasts a couple of months. My wife was not impressed. ‘It makes you look different,’ she said, ‘but not better.’ A recent study backed this up: shown ‘before and after’ pictures of ten women who had had Botox, 150 volunteers said they looked less attractive than before.
MY KARDASHIAN MOMENT
Championed by Kim Kardashian, the ‘vampire facelift’ is another one I have tried. It’s also known as platelet rich plasma, or PRP treatment. A doctor takes your blood, spins it to extract plasma, then injects it into your face. A couple of weeks later there were some subtle changes. But it is expensive and the improvement was not impressive enough to make me want to do it again.