Skin, Wrinkles and Make-Up

Stylish middle aged woman
In any discussion of aging one of the first and usually the most often brought up subjects is skin care. When people talk about the 'signs of aging' the first thing they think of is wrinkles, and the cosmetics and skin care industries spend billions each year producing and marketing the next big thing in anti-aging skin care. And women the world over try any and everything to make their skin look and feel younger.
But before we talk about what to do to look younger, let's talk about how age affects the skin. All skin contains proteins called collagen and elastin. Collagen gives skin its firmness and plumpness, while elastin gives skin its resiliency. As we age, the proteins break down and the skin often begins to naturally lose its firmness and resilience. In addition for women, who have a thin layer of fat cells distributed all over their bodies, age causes these fat cells to shrink over time causing sagging and wrinkles.
Environmental and dietary factors can play a role in increasing the breakdown of the skin's collagen and elastin as well. Exposure to the sun's harmful rays, pollution, bad diet, illness, smoking, and drinking alcohol all can have damaging effects on the skin, and can make you look years older than you actually are. Yet you can avoid, and even repair some of the damage that may already have been done by paying heed to these factors:
Diet: A good healthy diet is very important for healthy skin. Focus on foods high in Vitamin A and beta-carotene (milk, cheese, cream, butter, eggs, liver, leafy dark greens, dark orange fruits and veggies like apricots, cantaloupe, carrots, winter squash, sweet potatoes and pumpkin). Try to get vitamin A and beta-carotene through foods rather than supplements as these vitamins are stored in the body's cells and could reach toxic levels when improperly taken in supplement forms. Vitamin C is also important to your skin as it aids in immune system health and helps the body heal from injury and illness by facilitating protein metabolism.
Cleansing: Clean skin may not always be healthy, but skin with clogged and dirty pores will certainly not be. There are many cleansers available on the market and you can use the one you prefer. You should cleanse your face at least twice a day, especially before bed to remove the day's accumulation of grime and to remove any traces of make-up. Don't hesitate to repeat the cleansing process twice if there's any doubt that your face is truly clean, but ALWAYS rinse your skin thoroughly. Leaving traces of cleanser can actually cause more blemishes than not washing your face under some circumstances. Follow the cleanser and rinsing with a mild astringent to tighten the pores. Another trick for tightening the pores is to follow a warm water rinse with cold water.
The Sun: Without sunshine, ours would be a cold dark world - cold, dark and lifeless. Even so, we have to be on our guard of too much sun exposure because of the harmful UV rays of the sun. The ultra-violet rays of the sun come in two forms: UVA and UVB rays. UVA rays (the Aging rays) account for about 90-95 percent of the ultra-violet radiation of the sun and penetrate deeply into the skin destroying collagen and elastin, which leads to wrinkles and sagging skin. UVB rays (the Burning rays) don't penetrate as deeply as UVA, but they are the ones which cause sunburn. They affect the skin's melanocyte cells, which produce melanin to protect from the sun's rays. One positive effect of sunshine is that it causes the skin to produce its own Vitamin D.
Alcohol and Smoking: These two addictions take a serious toll on the skin (among other health concerns). Smoking can cause the skin to turn sallow and dull, while reinforcing the formation of lines around the mouth. Alcohol has the effect of dilating the capillaries in the skin causing the skin to appear flushed and susceptible to bruising and discoloration. Alcohol also dehydrates the body, which can further damage the skin. Both tobacco and alcohol should be used only in moderation, if at all.
Now that you know what factors can adversely or positively affect the apparent age of your skin, it's time to talk about make-up and the aging woman. Many women learn how to apply make-up as a teen either from friends or from an older woman in the family. After that, it becomes a habit, and they seldom, if ever, vary from the techniques they learned at the start. This can make you look older than you would otherwise. As with fashion, you should always keep your make-up application techniques current, and always use make-up sparingly, as nothing will make you look older than overuse of make-up.
In addition, things like skin tone, hair color and eye color can lighten (or darken, but usually it's lighten) over time, which naturally means that your make-up colors should change as well. The foundation, eye, cheek and lip colors that looked great on you at 25 may be too dark at 40 or 50, and in fact, foundation that is too dark for your skin tone will emphasize every line and wrinkle. This is counter productive to the purpose of using make-up. Where possible, always test your cosmetics first before buying them.
As a general rule, when you get older, you should focus on softer shades of flattering colors. That shade of cherry red lipstick that was drop dead gorgeous on you in your younger days will only make you look dead if you try wearing it years later. Instead, try a dusty rose or rosy shade of pink, and when it comes to eye and cheek colors, think neutral or soft colors as well. For the eyes especially, avoid dark eye-shadow and bright or multi-color effects. Finally, as you finish your make-up application, use a translucent powder to prevent shine and soften the overall appearance. This will further soften the appearance of wrinkles for a more youthful look.
All in all, what we learn here is that the best way to look younger is to take good care of your skin through cleansing, diet, and avoiding harmful activities. By doing this, and by choosing and using cosmetics wisely, you can keep yourself looking much younger than you really are.
Stacy - Master Cosmetologist©
Photo: Goodluz/Shutterstock
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