The key to ageing well and looking good needn’t be expensive chemical-laden creams or cosmetic surgery. More natural options abound, often based on wisdom and practices that have been around for centuries.
The Australian College of Dermatologists website lists the most important ingredient of cosmeceuticals (products that have both cosmetic and therapeutic effects) as sunscreen, to “protect against sun damage, photo-ageing and skin cancers”.
There is no doubt, particularly in Australia with our harsh sun, that sunscreen is essential to prevent premature skin ageing, and the earlier you start using sunscreen regularly the better your skin will look in the long run.
More natural sunscreens use zinc oxide as the active ingredient. This forms an invisible barrier on top of your skin. Chemical sunscreens work by absorbing the energy from UVA and UVB rays before they affect your skin.
Putting oil on your face may seem strange to some, particularly those with oily skin, but oils such Jojoba, Rosehip and Argan are gaining fans as people look for natural skin care and anti-ageing alternatives.
Quite well known as a hair treatment, Argan oil has been used for centuries by the women of Morocco for hair, skin, nails and even as a culinary oil on food.
Kait Willis is the owner of Potion Products, an Australian supplier of certified organic Argan oil from Morocco.
“Argan oil naturally consists of many components which are highly beneficial for nurturing the skin.
“It contains 80% unsaturated essential fatty acids – Omega 9 (Oleic acid) and Omega 6 (Linoleic acid) the most abundant; it also contains Vitamin E, polyphenols, ferulic acid and sterols (phytosterols).
“These elements combined make Argan oil an excellent, natural choice for anti-ageing and skin-nourishing effects,” Kait said.
Greg Milham, Owner and Biochemist at Sanctum, selects only the finest certified organic oils for his moisturisers and other products.
Sanctum’s Moisture Replenish recently won the Best Day Cream category at the 2015 Natural Beauty Awards.
“Skin naturally produces it’s own sebum to protect itself, so anything we use here at Sanctum needs to work with the skin to help balance it’s own natural oils.
“We choose to use certified organic Aloe Vera rather than water as a base for most of the Sanctum range because Aloe provides more benefits to the skin.
Aloe barbadensis leaf juice has many known soothing, healing and hydrating properties and has been used since ancient times to repair the skin,” Greg said.
Tia Bhana-Williams, a Chinese medicine doctor at Newport Specialised Therapies, advises many health and fertility issues can be traced back to diet.
For skin health and beauty, she suggests eating more green leafy vegetables, good fats and oils to increase hydration and blood flow to the face and to alkalise and cool the body.
“Add LSA (linseed, sesame and almond powder) and chia seeds to breakfast cereal in the morning. Raw walnuts, sunflower seeds and pepitas are great too.
“Good fats are also found in avocado and eggs and switch to butter instead of margarine.
“Fish oil, flaxseed oil or evening primrose oil are good supplements promoting skin health, as is magnesium, but you’ll need to take calcium too if you take magnesium,” Tia said.
Omega 3, present in oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, herring and sardines, has been shown to improve heart health, eye health and reduce inflammation as well as improve memory and decrease the risks of dementia and depression. It has also been linked with better sleep.
However, these oily fish may contain high levels of mercury, so it is recommended to have no more than two servings a week, and/or obtain Omega 3 from a fish oil capsule.
For vegetarians and people concerned about over-fishing, flaxseed oil also contains Omega 3, but has less EPA and DHA than fish oil, which is where the majority of observed benefit comes from.
Omega 3 is also present in marine algae, and some companies are now making supplements from this sustainable, vegetarian-friendly resource, which is also high in DHA.
The National Ageing Research Institute’s tips for healthy ageing include: eat well, get enough sleep, exercise, don’t smoke, don’t drink too much, keep your mind active, socialise with family and friends and keep a positive attitude by doing things that make you happy and give you a sense of purpose.
Good advice for any age.