The body produces less collagen and elastin as we age; plus, circulation of blood and lymph slows and the sebaceous glands (oil-producing glads on the skin's surface) function less effectively. All of this sadly results in wrinkles. Alcohol, smoking and excessive sun exposure also play havoc with the skin, increasing the risk of wrinkles. There are, however, ways to both prevent and repair the damage.
Mineral-rich herbal teas, such as Irish moss, plantain, marshmallow, and violet leaf, deter wrinkles and keep skin moist because they contain emollient compounds that lubricate the skin. Aim to drink 3-4 cups per day, along with 6-8 glasses of pure water. Some of the best foods to fight wrinkles are yoghurt, buttermilk, and fruit because they contain alpha-hydroxy acids that encourage the skin to retain moisture as well as stimulating new cell growth. Other great moisture-rich foods include ground flaxseed, sweet potatoes, oatmeal, barley, chia seeds, and avocado. Antioxidant-rich foods, such as berries and vegetables, benefit skin as well.
Harsh soaps, scrubbing or over-cleansing the face are other contributing factors to the development of wrinkles, because they can strip skin of moisture and oils. Choose mild soaps or cleansers that contain skin-soothing ingredients like oatmeal, olive oil, white clay, or calendula. Rehydrate your skin during the day with a rosewater spray, even over make-up. The keratin protein on the skin's top layer requires water to look and feel supple.
Essential oils that fight wrinkles include frankincense, neroli, lavender, and chamomile. Many natural products have these included already, but if not, you can add them to the moisturiser you are already using. Vitamin C is essential for collagen production, while vitamin E balances hormone production, preserves the skin's elasticity, and helps the body utilise oxygen better. Zinc also helps to synthesise collagen and is key in balancing dry or flaky skin.
Toni Green is a Launceston-based naturopath, herbalist and health writer. It is her passion to pass on this knowledge of natural therapies to others so that they might live a stress-free life with health and vitality. Visit Toni at www.naturalhealthsolutions.net.au; email firstname.lastname@example.org; or phone 0431 716 601.