The secrets of anti-ageing

Want to know the secret to glowing, younger-looking skin? We asked the natural beauty experts for their top tips

Say no to sugar!

Not only does sugar affect our general health but it can also have a detrimental effect on our skin. “Firstly, sugary and processed foods contain little in the way of vitamins and minerals that nourish and protect the skin,” explains nutritionist Cassandra Barns. “Secondly, sugar and refined carbohydrates (which are quickly absorbed, just like sugar) cause a surge of the hormone insulin, which can then increase your levels of testosterone, which in turn can contribute to breakouts and acne.” Sugar can also cause your skin to lose its elasticity and plumpness. “This is all down to a process called glycation,” adds Dr Marilyn Glenville, nutritionist and author of Natural Alternatives to Sugar (www.marilynglenville.com). “Glycation is the bonding between sugar and protein in the body, resulting in proteins like collagen and elastin becoming less effective. This can result in loss of elasticity of the skin, encouraging the formation of wrinkles.”

Stock up on vitamin C

“Antioxidants work to protect the skin by limiting the production of free radicals; the main culprit for damaging our skin cells, which leads to the visible and hidden signs of ageing,” says Cassandra Barns. “One of the most powerful antioxidants is vitamin C. It could help us to stay youthful in many ways, including better energy levels and also younger-looking skin. It is thought that the skin ageing process may occur due to the build-up of free radicals causing damage to our cells. This can weaken skin’s protective powers, which results in a dull complexion, lines and damaged collagen.”

Try some macadamia nut oil

“Macadamia nut oil is a superb anti-ageing beauty ingredient,” says homeopath Hilery Dorrian, co-founder of SkinGenius (www.skin-genius.co.uk). “It is rich in essential fatty acids including palmitoleic acid and oleic acid. As we age, our skin becomes depleted in palmitoleic acid so macadamia nut oil is a great ingredient to delay premature ageing, keep the skin taut and guard against wrinkles, while oleic acid has regenerating and moisturising properties to help with anti-ageing. Macadamia nut oil is rich in protective plant phytosterols which help the integrity of our cells’ membranes and structure. The oil helps products glide onto the skin and sink in without feeling greasy.”

Source some algal oil

“One of my favourite new superfoods for skin health and anti-ageing is algal oil,” says Rick Hay, anti-ageing food and fitness nutritionist (www.rickhay.co.uk). “It is algae-based and rich in the omega-3 fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). You can take it in supplement form. It is also anti-inflammatory and this is great to help with skin conditions that are red or hot or dry. Anything that reduces inflammation in the body is a true anti-ageing agent as inflammation is extremely taxing on the body and is associated with some serious heart conditions. Algal oil has other health benefits in terms of it being immune boosting and a cardiovascular tonic. It also has benefits on brain health and mood.”

Try some home remedies

“Ageing is a process that starts when life begins,” says Sarah Jones, a leading holistic and lifestyle expert (www.sarahjonesuk.com). “It represents the accumulation of physical, psychological and social changes in a person over time. You can make changes to your lifestyle that impact your body and mind. Nature has a way of supplying what we need and here’s a few of my favourite holistic remedies I have at home. Turmeric and garlic contain antioxidants and cleansing nutrients that can slow the ageing process. Also green superfoods are high in antioxidant compounds like chlorella, grass juices and wild berries. In my home I always have essential oils like frankincense, lavender, myrrh and sandalwood and they are the most anti-aging remedies on the planet! They are high in antioxidants and contain compounds that naturally balance hormones. My key recommendation is a good night’s sleep which is one of the best things you can do to prevent ageing and is one of the most overlooked health habits. Aim to get at least eight hours of sleep daily in a dark, cool room.”

Get hands on!

Natural beauty expert Jennifer Young suggests the following simple massage routine for the eye area that you can do at home. She says: “Indian and Chinese medicine use gentle pressure on acupressure points to achieve a variety of health and wellbeing benefits, including these anti-ageing properties: increasing blood flow, improving lymph flow, the removal of toxins and stimulating collagen and elastin production. This eye massage routine focuses on the eyes. It reduces puffiness as well as lifting the eyes and making them brighter. Make sure you concentrate on the eye socket – working no closer to the eye than the upper and lower sockets. Hold each step for a slow count of five, applying gentle pressure.”

1. Using one hand per eye, place all four fingers on the upper eye socket (the bony bit beneath the eyebrows). Lift towards the hairline.

2. Place the forefingers in the small ‘dip’ (pressure point) at the edge of the upper socket, next to the nose.

3. Move the forefingers to the centre of the eyebrow. You will feel a small dip here too.

4. Move around to the temples, at the side of each eye you will locate another pressure point – apply gentle pressure and hold.

5. The final pressure point is located on in the middle of the lower socket.

Jennifer Young is the author of Recognise Yourself, a wellbeing and beauty guide for those affected by cancer. She is also founder of www.BeautyDespiteCancer.co.uk and formulator of specialist skincare collections Defiant Beauty.

“Night oils have become very fashionable recently and with good reason,” says Shelley Cho, a health and wellbeing coach, (www.flirting-with-health.com). “The essential fatty acids and fat soluble vitamins that some oils contain can really help in preventing and improving those fine lines and wrinkles. However, you don’t have to spend a fortune on expensive night oils which blend together lots of ingredients. One of the best (and cheapest) things you can use when it comes to preventing the signs of ageing and improving the condition of your skin is using a pure, certified organic natural oil such as jojoba oil or rosehip seed oil. Rosehip seed oil for example is a light, golden-coloured oil that is known to be suitable for even those with acne, eczema and other skin conditions. This wonder oil is naturally high in omega-3, 6 and 9 fatty acids, wonderfully hydrates the skin, is known to help improve hyperpigmentation and age spots and is famous for really improving fine lines and wrinkles. It naturally contains a little tretinoin which is a form of vitamin A – pharmaceutically manufactured tretinoin is used in many conventional anti-ageing creams and serums. A way to add that little bit extra to your night oil would be to use a few drops of an essential oil.

“Certain essential oils are known for their age-defying and regenerative properties. One essential oil that has developed a reputation for being great at improving the signs of ageing is frankincense. Lavender oil is also a very calming and soothing oil that is renowned for its great regenerative properties. All essential oils should only be used diluted in a carrier oil, such as rosehip seed oil or jojoba oil. However, they can give your night oil a wonderful fragrance as well as enhancing its anti-ageing properties. All you need are just a few drops.”

Use the power of herbal healing

“Chamomile is known for its anti-inflammatory properties and contains a long list of chemical compounds which are useful in skincare,” says Lorraine Dallmeier, director of www.FormulaBotanica.com, the online organic cosmetic science school. “One of chamomile’s best known anti-inflammatory compounds is chamazulene which causes the essential oil of German chamomile to go bright blue in colour. Chamomile is also one of the few herbs that has been included in clinical trials to look into its effectiveness in treating various skin conditions. Most documented studies have been undertaken in Germany and a couple of studies found that chamomile was effective in reducing dermatitis and eczema when compared to conventional eczema treatments such as hydrocortisone.

“Comfrey has also traditionally been used as a skin-healing herb. It contains one particularly interesting compound called allantoin which works as an antioxidant, encouraging the regeneration of new cells and speeding up the shedding of dead skin cells. It is also thought to protect against UV-induced skin cell damage and it works as an anti-irritant.”

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