Beauty Really is skin deep

an elderly woman
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Some years ago when I was writing a book about ways to avoid premature ageing I was amused to read a quote by Erwin Tschachler, a Professor of Dermatology who said “Ideally we should do a study of ageing in a Nunnery, with subjects who have stayed out of the sun and subjects who have lived their lives without vices”!

Sounds a bit boring to me but I get his point!  Skin reflects our lifestyle and some of us succumb to vices such as smoking, excess alcohol and processed foods.  However, stress and lack of sleep, certain medications, inactivity and over exposure to the sun all contribute to the ageing process. Our skin is the body’s only external organ, protecting what is inside and keeping harmful things on the outside.  It effectively retains essential fluids, protects internal organs, resists infections and acts as a physical barrier to damage.

We spend a lot of time and money worrying about the top layer of skin, the epidermis, which we see daily in the mirror.   But skin has 2 more layers, the middle dermis and lower hypodermis. And beauty really is skin deep, because what goes on below the surface in the dermis and hypodermis is what really matters. These lower layers contain hair follicles, nerve endings, connective tissue, blood vessels, sebaceous and sweat glands, and collagen fibres. This is where the skin process begins, with new cells being constantly formed and renewed.  It takes approximately 30 days for these new cells to find their way up from the lower layers to the top layer.

What we see in the mirror when they finally reach the skins surface are old cells, which are then shed naturally in a continuous process.  But the older we get the longer this process takes!  So what’s new? The most damaging factor is over exposure to the sun which affects the skin cells causing cell damage, but also poses health threats including skin cancers.  The effects from the sunburn may not be visible for years (40 years in my case) but harmful rays will have done their damage.   I learnt the hard way to protect my skin, particularly sensitive facial skin from sun’s harmful rays and pollutants. I use sunscreen containing SPF 15 (sun protection factor).  I consider higher than SPF 30 or extreme sun block unnecessary as we all need some sunlight (Vit D) to protect us from osteoporosis

Beauty can be ageless, it depends on knowing what your body and skin needs most.  Adequate sleep speeds the healing process, and nourishing maintains it helping us look and feel our best. “We can’t beat Old Father Time – no but some women drive a mighty close bargain with him”


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