Picture two women in their 40s: one has luminous skin that seems to resist the effects of time, while the other’s just started to see fine lines when she looks in the mirror.
While genetics plays a part, protecting your skin is paramount to ageing well. “Research indicates genes are no longer the only factor,” says plastic surgeon Dr Vincent Giampapa. “In fact, only 30% of ageing is determined by our genes and 70% is up to us. In other words, the majority of the process resides in our ability to control our lifestyle, environment, and how we look after our bodies and DNA.” We reveal key facial forecasters to help you gauge how your skin will age.
What are the most ageing lifestyle factors?
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: avoid excessive sun exposure!
“Photo ageing accounts for 75% of ageing,” according to Dr Phillip Artemi, spokesperson for the Australasian College of Dermatologists. Include a broad spectrum SPF 50+ sunscreen in your daily routine and slather it on every two hours if you’re outdoors. Give cigarettes the flick (the smoke causes free radical damage) and eat a diet high in antioxidants from natural sources such as fruit and vegetables.
“The inevitable result of poor diet is poor gene activity and early ageing,” says Dr Giampapa. “Making lifestyle changes will slow the rate that you age, no matter how many years you’ve logged.”
Does hair have an impact on your perceived age?
Our hair thins naturally as we age, but thick, glossy hair is one of the fastest ways to look younger. Thicken up limp locks instantly with highlights, as permanent colour swells the hair shaft.
“Stay away from semi-permanents, as they make hair feel soft and look thinner,” advises Sydney-based hairdresser Barney Martin. Prevention is better than cure, so switch regular shampoo and conditioner for a Nioxin Three Part System, which contains an amino acid complex to reduce hair loss and increase the fullness of each strand.
“We’re an ageing population and hair loss prevention is going to be the next big thing,” says Martin. Lastly, give long hair the chop (think above your shoulders or a chin-length bob) if your hair’s fine. “As you age, gravity draws your features down and your hair should lift them up,” he adds.
Which skin types age the best?
UV damage is the number one accelerator of ageing, particularly in Australia’s harsh climate.
“If you’re pale, blonde, blue eyed and burn easily, you’ll be less likely to withstand the ageing effects of accumulated sun exposure compared to someone with Mediterranean skin,” says dermatologist, Dr Stephen Shumack.
Darker skins: don’t even think about skimping on sunscreen – while you may not burn easily, sun exposure can cause irregular pigmentation due to the activation of melanocytes (melanin producing cells). Those with thick skin also have cause to cheer. “Thin skin wrinkles faster due to collagen breakdown and a thin fatty level below the surface,” says Dr Giampapa.
What facial characteristics determine how we’ll actually age?
If your face is round and plump, you’ve won the genetic lottery.
“As you grow older your bones get thin, cheeks get shallow, you develop indentations around your chin and your face can hollow a little,” says Dr Artemi. “Women with a long, rectangular face show wrinkles and bone resorption more than those with a rounder face.”
High cheekbones and prominent chins also reap the anti-ageing benefits. “ These structures help provide subcutaneous support, so thinning and sagging of the skin is less prominent,” explains Dr Shumack.
Not blessed with these natural age defenders? Cosmetic procedures like fillers in the inner cheek area and around the chin and mouth are one way to add volume.
This article originally appeared on Beauty Crew.