While we can't stop the ageing process, we can lessen the effect it has on our skin.
We’ll never be able to completely eliminate things like wrinkles or sagging skin, but with a bit of effort and the right treatments, we can keep our skin healthy enough to hold off some of these signs of ageing, and lessen their severity when they do arrive.
It's important to note that there is nothing wrong with wrinkles — they are normal as we age. And, if you don't want to use any products that target skin ageing, that's totally up to you. The same goes for wanting to prevent the formation of wrinkles, there is no wrong or right answer — you simply need to do what is right for you.
With this in mind, we're diving deep into ageing, how it manifests on the skin and ways you treat the visible signs of ageing.
What are the effects of ageing?
‘Ageing’ can mean different things to different people, so let’s look at some of the more common signs of ageing skin.
Wrinkles are probably the most common sign that we’re starting to get older. As you age, your skin produces fewer collagen fibres, and the elastin that holds these fibres together begins to weaken, resulting in wrinkles on the forehead, under the eyes and on the neck.
We also lose muscle mass and some skin thickness, and our skin can become dehydrated too . These physiological processes cause the skin to wrinkle over time but there are also a few things that can speed this process up, like sun exposure and cigarette smoking.
Wrinkles can also be affected by things we can’t control, like genetics, our facial expressions, and gravity . Crow's feet, for example, are often referred to as 'smile lines' due to facial movements associated with their creation.
As we age, our skin begins to sag. If you’ve ever wondered why your skin looks less plump than it did when you were younger, it’s due to your skin losing elasticity over time.
Thinner lips, sunken cheeks, and a ‘double chin’ can be signs of sagging skin. Similar to wrinkles, this is caused by our bodies producing fewer collagen fibres as we age, and the weakening of the elastin that holds them together .
Other big factors are gravity and sun damage: the ‘weather-beaten’ look of someone who spends a lot of time working outdoors is an example of sagging skin caused by sun damage .
The sun is the number one thing that can damage your skin . Sun damage contributes to virtually every sign of ageing, including wrinkles, sagging skin, dehydration, and skin discolouration.
It can also cause skin cancer — in Australia, the majority of skin cancers are caused by exposure to the sun . Make no mistake, the sun’s damaging effect on your skin is real and can be very serious.
As we get older, we can sometimes notice changes in our skin’s pigmentation. Hyperpigmentation and melasma are common conditions in which parts of our skin become darker than normal due to an excess of melanin (the pigment that produces our normal skin colour) .
Hyperpigmentation often occurs due to trauma to the skin — for example, from acne scarring — while melasma can be a hormonal change. We can also notice age spots (also known as sun spots or solar lentigo), freckles, new moles, and brown marks pop up. Many of these can be a result of sun damage .
It’s fairly common to notice our skin getting drier as we get older. Dehydration — from not drinking enough water — is a common cause of this, as are sun damage and cigarette smoking.
But, skin dryness can also be caused by hormonal changes, and our body losing oil and sweat glands as we age . Dry skin can also cause itchiness and rough patches on the skin, which can be uncomfortable, and it can also lead to a general ‘dullness’ of the skin.
This can occur due to a decrease in cell turnover which leaves us with more dead skin cells on the topmost layer of our skin .
Can ageing skin be restored?
Look in any magazine and you’d be forgiven for thinking that some of the skincare giants have already found the fountain of youth and the ability to recapture a youthful appearance with a pot of face cream.
We’re constantly advertised lotions and potions that promise to reverse all signs of ageing and keep us looking young long after our first few grey hairs have arrived — but how many of those products really work?
The naked truth is that we can’t completely restore aged skin. But we can work on reducing many of the symptoms of aged skin, help our skin look fresher and healthier and improve skin texture and glow. There’s no one ‘miracle product’ that will do it — instead, there are a couple of smart, science-backed solutions.
These are the most effective skincare ingredients for reviving mature skin as well as helping to prevent premature skin ageing.
Retinoids are a superstar ingredient and have been a favourite of dermatologists for years, but have recently become widely available over the counter — in the form of retinol — as well.
Retinoids work by increasing skin cell turnover, which promotes new cell growth and can give a ‘fresher’ appearance to the skin. They also slow the breakdown of collagen and thicken the skin, giving wrinkles less of a chance to take hold. If you have acne, or lingering acne scars, retinoids can help eliminate it too .
Studies have shown that prescription retinoids can vastly improve the appearance of mild to severely sun-damaged skin, specifically targeting fine and coarse wrinkles, skin laxity (sagging), hyperpigmentation, and roughness .
One paper even wrote, ‘Amongst various anti-ageing agents, retinoids are the most promising agents that are available for the treatment of ageing’ .
The strength of prescription retinoids means that it can mildly irritate some sensitive skin, but this can be mitigated by using a lower-strength prescription or applying moisturiser before applying prescription retinoids — this is known as the 'sandwich method' where you layer your formula in between 2 layers of moisturiser.
Because prescription retinoids increase skin cell turnover and make your skin sensitive — especially to the sun — sunscreen must be worn every single day, no matter the weather.
Niacinamide is available both over-the-counter and by prescription. It’s most commonly a topical treatment (a cream, gel, or serum) but it can also be prescribed orally, as a tablet.
It has several properties that have made it an extremely popular ingredient in skincare — it boosts collagen production as well as ceramides, and lipids, which improve skin elasticity, reduce fine lines and wrinkles and help improve a damaged skin barrier .
It can also even out skin tone by reducing redness, blotchiness, and hyperpigmentation; and it reduces sebum production while still retaining skin moisture which makes it a great choice for acne-prone skin as well .
Niacinamide is a good option for anyone whose skin may be too sensitive for stronger treatments, as skin irritation after usage is very rare . It’s also highly compatible with prescription retinoids and azelaic acid, as well as many other ingredients.
Facial acids act as chemical exfoliants, and azelaic acid is one of the most gentle yet effective facial acids out there. Azelaic acid is a powerful treatment for acne, but it also clears up hyperpigmentation, inflammation, and redness left behind after trauma to the skin.
It’s also frequently used to treat melasma and rosacea, with excellent results and it can prevent build-ups of dead skin cells which can contribute to skin dullness .
Azelaic acid is popular due to how compatible it is with sensitive skin. It’s unlikely to cause irritation after usage, and any irritation may be mild compared with other facial acids.
It’s very compatible with other treatments as well and can be used with prescription retinoids and niacinamide as part of a full anti-ageing skincare routine.
Hyaluronic acid is known for its skin moisturising benefits but its uses go far beyond that — especially when it comes to anti-ageing.
In fact, studies have shown that regularly using skincare products with hyaluronic acid helps increase skin elasticity, improve skin texture and tone and can reduce the depth of wrinkles.
Hyaluronic acid works by absorbing the moisture around it, before pulling into the skin's surface. This is why it's recommended that you apply hyaluronic acid products to damp skin so it can use that water to pull into your skin.
What else can I do to prevent ageing skin?
Skin treatments can play a big role in how quickly our skin ages, but there are many other things we should do to make sure our skin looks as healthy and young as possible.
As we know, the sun is the number one thing that can damage your skin and can cause everything from wrinkles to cancer . So, sun protection is incredibly important and should incorporate sunscreen and protective clothing like a hat and sunglasses.
A quality SPF should be a part of your everyday skincare routine, not just something you do once in a while. A non-comedogenic, hypo-allergenic sunscreen (it's up to you whether you prefer chemical or physical sunscreens) will help prevent clogged pores and allergic reactions to the skin.
Use topical treatments
Creating a skincare routine that targets ageing can feel difficult (where do you start?!), which is why Software created the Advanced Ageing Set.
This kit contains 5 products that are designed to brighten and firm skin, stimulate collagen production, reduce fine lines and wrinkles and infuse deep hydration into the skin.
And, all of these products can easily fit into your existing skincare routine but will supercharge it thanks to the addition of Software's Vitamin C + Ferulic Serum, which builds and develops collagen and the Retinol Complex Oil, which rejuvenates skin and fights fine lines and dark spots.
Cigarettes are bad for your lungs, and they’re bad for your skin as well. Tobacco smoke reduces blood flow to the skin, damages collagen and elastin, and puts the skin in a state of oxidative stress, which can be highly damaging .
One study compared smoking and non-smoking identical twins and found that the twins who smoked had more visible signs of ageing than their non-smoking counterparts . If you’ve been looking for one more reason to quit, this is it.
Incorporate age-fighting ingredients
This is why retinoids are a star ingredient in Software's prescription ageing cream, which works to penetrate the epidermis to bring newer, healthier skin cells to the surface. Our ageing treatment targets fine lines and wrinkles and helps tighten and firm skin and is made to order based on your individual skin goals.
Simply take our text-based consult and an Australian doctor will customise a formula just for you, with ingredients like retinoids, niacinamide and hyaluronic acid. From here, your skincare treatment will be compounded and shipped straight to your door.
Get some sleep
Work, study, and family can often impact how much — or how little — sleep you get, but if you can manage to squeeze an extra hour in, you should.
If you don’t get much sleep, you can often wake up the next morning looking sleep deprived, with dark circles or bags under your eyes. But, over time, a lack of sleep can contribute to skin dehydration and an increase in increased signs of intrinsic skin ageing .
When you sleep, your body repairs and restore itself, and if you get less sleep, your body has less time to go through these processes.
Anti-ageing morning skincare routine
We're here to your anti-ageing routine streamlined and simple, which is why we've created the easiest morning skincare routine for you to follow.
Whether you're wanting to treat mature skin or prevent premature skin ageing, this routine is great for all.
This isn't necessary for everyone — if you have dry skin, you may want to skip this step — but those with oily or acne-prone skin can begin their morning by washing their face with a gentle facial cleanser.
This helps to wash away any dirt, sweat or impurities that accumulated on the skin during the night.
Vitamin C is a hardworking ingredient that helps brighten skin and fight ageing by protecting the skin from free radicals caused by environmental stressors and UV rays.
So, this is where you apply your Software Vitamin C + Ferulic Serum and you'll soon notice a difference in your skin brightness and texture.
The next step is to apply a lightweight moisturiser that will help lock in hydrating for the day ahead.
If you're looking for a nourishing cream, Software's Ceramide Repair Balm is a great option for all skin types and it helps hydrate skin without feeling heavy.
The final step of any morning routine (before you move onto makeup, should you wear it) is sunscreen. No matter the day (or season), SPF is for everyday use and protecting your skin from UV rays is essential — especially when it comes to ageing.
Included in the Advanced Ageing Kit is Software's Solar Fluid — a lightweight and non-greasy SPF50 formula that both hydrates and protects the skin. Apply this generously and you're good to go.
Anti-ageing evening skincare routine
The evening skincare routine is all about clearing away dirt, oil and sweat that has built up across the day and preparing your skin for the night.
Start by cleansing your face to remove the day and if you are wearing makeup, you might want to double cleanse, which is just repeating the process a second time to make sure you've really washed away the makeup, dirt and residue.
Moisturiser and Software formula
You can follow up your cleansing step with a serum but, if you're using a personalised Software formula, you can skip this step and go straight in with a moisturiser.
If you're following the 'sandwich method', be sure to apply a layer of moisturiser and let it sink into the skin for 10 minutes, then follow it up with your Software treatment, wait another 10 minutes and apply one last layer of moisturiser.
If you're not using a Software formula and are sticking to non-prescription anti-ageing products, you might want to consider a retinol product like Software's Retinol Complex Oil.
You'll still be able to reap the anti-ageing benefits with retinol but it's also more tailored to those with sensitive skin or who don't want to use prescription retinoids.
If you are using an oil or serum, pop this on after cleansing and before your moisturiser.
The fact that getting older is such an inevitable process can make us think that there’s absolutely nothing we can do about the signs of ageing, but this isn’t the case. The actions we take to improve our skin’s health and appearance today can have a major effect in the future.
Whether you’re making some healthy changes in your life or investing in skincare — or both —it’s important to know that there is real science backing up the treatments that can help us look younger. Ageing is unavoidable, but with some time and effort, we can look our best while getting older.
- Farris, Patricia K. 2013, Cosmeceuticals and cosmetic practice, John Wiley & Sons, New Jersey, USA.