Skin ageing is a multi-faceted process, which is impacted by lifestyle, dietary choices and genetics. As the skincare and wellness industries become more and more intertwined, we have seen a rise in beauty supplements or ingestible beauty products. In America, the industry was thought to be worth $13.1 million and one in five supplement takers do so for skin benefits. Yet with so many options available, promising everything from improving the quality of your skin to preventing lines and wrinkles, it can be a minefield. Here is a guide to help you make the decision…
How does skin age?
Skin is like any other organ in the body and it ages over a period of time. Unlike the liver, kidneys and other organs, skin actually ages more rapidly because it is not only exposed to internal aggressors and toxins, but it also has to cope with the external pollutants, radiation et cetera.
In order to understand the ageing of skin, we need to look at the outermost layer, the stratum corneum. It is composed of flattened, hard, dead skin cells that resemble overlapping bricks. These start as living cells in the lower skin layer, but as they are pushed closer to the surface, they flatten out and die, forming in a thin but very tough barrier.
These flat cells would normally flake away immediately except for the fact that they are held together by a flexible skin cement, nearly 40 percent of which is composed of ceramides. If you think of the stratum corneum cells as bricks and the skin cement as the mortar that holds them in place.
When we’re younger the outer layers of skin are replaced roughly every 40 days. By the time we reach our fifties though, it takes roughly 50 percent longer. To make matters worse, the amount of ceramides and other lipids in the skin cement that holds the skin cells is lower. This results in the loss of moisture and the weakened barrier can affect the deeper layers where collagen and elastin production occur.
Why are ceramides essential for healthy skin?
As mentioned above, ceramides and lipids hold the skin’s barrier in place and prevent moisture loss and free radical damage. Loss of moisture leaves the skin surface pale and dry with fine wrinkles, while free radical damage can lead to inflammation, which affects collagen and elastin production and can lead to deeper wrinkles. The obvious solution is to replace the lost ceramides.
In the early 1990’s, leading cosmetic companies marketed ceramide-based topical skincare products for treating fine lines, wrinkles and dryness. While this topical approach improves the skin’s barrier function, it cannot match the steady stream of ceramides from within.
A little over a decade ago, scientists explored the potential of wheat derived ceramides for use as a skin moisturiser that could be taken orally. Studies indicated that the ceramides in this wheat extract reached the outer cell layer from the bloodstream, significantly improving skin moisture levels and reducing the discomfort of dry, ageing skin.
The world’s first ceramide-rich extract of wheat is now marketed as Skin Restoring Phytoceramides. It is derived exclusively from wholegrain, non- genetically modified wheat containing purified oils. This extract is free from gluten and other allergens. Clinical studies proved that wheat ceramide supplementation measurably enhanced skin moisture levels and contributed to smoother, more comfortable skin all over the body including the face. Wheat ceramides offer a scientifically proven means of enhancing beauty from within.
How do hyaluronic supplements help your skin?
Hyaluronic acid helps to retain over a 1000 times its weight in water within the cells of skin, making it an excellent moisturizer. In fact, no other biological substance can retain as much water as HA resulting in increased smoothness, softening and decreased wrinkles. Equally important is its ability to remove waste matter from cells, including those where there is little blood circulation. The removal of waste and toxins from the cells helps to prevent a dull like appearance. The supplement I recommend is Hyaluronic Acid High Strength, which is vegetarian and is without side effects.
Why are antioxidants important for your skin?
My final recommendation for protecting the skin against ageing is a good antioxidant. Antioxidants protect the skin and the body’s glands from unstable damaging molecules known as free radicals. Free radicals come from a variety of sources including environmental pollution and cigarette smoke. Even body breaking down foods to obtain energy releases these damaging molecules into the bloodstream. When free radicals reach the collagen matrix, they damage the chemical structure of collagen causing the skin to become damaged. This process ultimately leads to the formation of fine lines, wrinkles and loss of firmness.
Ideally we should get our antioxidants from our diet, however this is simply not possible for numerous reasons, including nutritionally inadequate food, poor farming practices, stress and poor eating habits which all ruin our chances of getting sufficient antioxidants through our diet. It is for this reason that whilst I urge everyone to eat as healthily as possible, I still recommend the use of a potent super-antioxidant Astaxanthin with Phospholipids by Life Extension.
There are literally hundreds of supplements that claim to have anti-ageing properties including a variety of marine-based extracts, countless antioxidants and several vitamins and minerals. In order to maintain healthy and radiant skin, you have to protect, nourish and prevent damage to the cells of skin and the above mentioned three supplements do exactly this.