Everyone's skin ages depending on their genes and lifestyle. However sun exposure accelerates the signs of ageing such as dryness, wrinkles and skin growths like liver spots (keratoses). That's why your face, neck, hands and forearms are areas that age the fastest.
Other factors that accelerate ageing are smoking, air pollution (ozone depletes the vitamin E from the skin), and rapid weight loss.
Fine surface lines can be treated with anti-ageing treatments, but deeper creases require more aggressive techniques, such as injecting fillers.
Using creams regularly, especially before going to bed, minimises ageing. Pamper and nourish your skin at night because that's the time when blood supply to the skin surface is optimal, increasing cream absorption. Creams prevent moisture loss, assist the skin in absorbing moisture from air and compensate for the natural sebum that may have been lost. The right age to start skincare using simple moisturising creams is 25 years. Use anti-ageing creams only after the age of 35.
Anti-ageing creams work by stimulating the cells to form more fibre for firmness. They contain alpha-hydroxy acids that increase blood supply and realign the collagen to reduce creases. These creams also trap moisture on the skin's surface and prevent it from drying up, especially in dehydrating air-conditioned environments.
The active ingredient in anti-ageing creams is the vitamin-A derived tretinoin. Using it regularly at night reduces fine wrinkles by 30-40 per cent. After using the night creams daily for one year, you can cut down use to two to three times a week. The other ingredients are antioxidants such as vitamin C, vitamin E and beta-carotene.
These creams make the skin sensitive to the sun. To prevent redness and itching, using sun-protection – be it using a hat, umbrella or sunscreen cream or lotion — is a must.
(Dr Agarwal is a consultant dermatologist and the director of Mehak Skin Clinic)