The other day, my best buddy told me that his wife had bought him an anti-ageing night cream and he had started to use it.
I was blown away. He has always been a shower-gel-to-the-face kind of guy. He also looks half his age. The fact he possesses and uses an anti-ageing night cream struck me as interesting.
I see nothing wrong in a guy wanting to preserve his looks. In fact, I admire it. I’ve probably spent hours on things like flexibility, mobility and strength training so my body is better equipped to last longer. These things are more 'structural' I guess but thinking ahead to when I’m in my sixties, I might wish I had paid more attention to the cosmetic side of things.
I think it helps to go back to first principles here.
Why does our skin age?
The single greatest contributor to skin ageing is the sun.
I recently watched a documentary where a dermatologist estimated that the sun accounts for 75% of skin ageing. The same doctor said that if our skin was not exposed to any sunlight whatsoever from birth, the skin would maintain a youthful appearance well into our eighties.
Ultraviolet rays from the sun, specifically the UVA rays, can penetrate deep into the dermis. They don't just hit the top layer of our skin and bounce off.
UVA damages the supporting framework that sits underneath the outer layer of the skin. When this framework ‘collapses’, so too does the skin. Sort of like a tent without a tent pole. This is what wrinkles, lines and crow’s feet are.
An important point of note for all drivers and pilots amongst you is that UVA rays can penetrate glass. You may have seen the picture below doing the rounds on the internet a while ago.
It’s the face of a US trucker who drove trucks for 28 years for work. The sun coming through his side window had visibly aged one side of his face more than the other (just to bring some legitimate evidence to all the science).
Not only that but...
As you will know from this blog, it so happens that ultraviolet rays are also classified as a human carcinogen.
A UK study found that about 86% of melanomas can be attributed to exposure to UV radiation from the sun.
Other than hiding in a basement, can I prevent ageing and skin cancer?
You can certainly have a good go.
Fortunately, it’s ridiculously simple. In fact, I wish I had been doing it for the past 15 years.
No matter where in the world you are or what time of year it is, use a moisturiser with sun protection and use it every single day. Put it on after your morning shower or before you start your day. Put it on after you shave.
Think of it as the Swiss army knife in your toolkit.
Aim for a product that has an SPF rating of 30 or above to protect you from UVB (which causes burning and cancer). Make sure the product has a circular UVA symbol or at least four stars to protect you from UVA (which causes ageing and cancer).
Try and make this slight tweak a part of your daily regime and your sixty-year old you will be incredibly grateful, I promise.
If the threat of skin cancer doesn’t wake you up, hopefully the threat of a face full of wrinkles and crows feet might.