Here’s betting it’s wrinkled. The same effect applies to skin on your face, which can look years older within hours.
“Moisture loss does not directly accelerate skin ageing, but it will accentuate the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, making a person appear older,” says Dr Hunt. The good bit is that you can wind back the visual clock just as quickly by replenishing your body’s fluid stores. As for moisturisers, they’re hit and miss.
How does it happen?
Dr Hunt explains how ageing skin loses moisture.
1. As we age, a reduction in function of the skin’s glands results in lower levels of natural lipids.
2. Levels of ceramide (a compound naturally occurring in skin’s outer layer) also wane as we age, affecting the layer’s water-binding capacity. Skin’s permeability is also damaged, making it more susceptible to injury from chemical substances and less able to recover. Nutshell: damaged skin incurs even more moisture loss than healthy skin.
3. Dehydrated skin disrupts normal skin function, resulting in skin cells that do not shed normally and build up at the surface, appearing rough and dull. Moisture also maintains the elasticity of the stratum corneum (the top layer of skin cells) and once it dries out, the skin becomes tight and susceptible to cracks or splits.
How to avoid moisture loss
Environment: “UV sun radiation damages the top layer of skin and disrupts the skin’s ability to make its own natural moisturising factors,” says Dr Hunt. Other deleterious conditions for moisture include low humidity, air conditioning and heaters, long hot showers and wind.
Lifestyle: It makes sense – keeping your body quenched on the inside is going to show on the out. “Stay well hydrated and avoid excess alcohol, coffee and tea, all of which dehydrate the body and skin,” says Dr Hunt.
Product: A good moisturiser speaks a thousand skin-saving words according to Dr Hunt. A good one will have three characteristics – an occlusive component, a humectant, and emollient properties. “The occlusive component (e.g. lanolin or mineral oil) forms a protective film on the surface of the skin. The humectant (e.g. glycerin, hyaluronic acid) attracts water from the deeper layers of the skin and ‘holds’ them at the surface. The emollient (e.g. isopropyl isosterate, jojoba oil) fills the crevices between shedding skin cells, resulting in a smooth, soft texture.”
Skin treatment: Professional skin treatments concentrate on removing a lot of dead skin cell build-up in order to allow moisture to penetrate. “Alpha hydroxy acid can exfoliate dead skin cells but also to aid moisture,” says Dr Hunt.
Fillers: For a two-in-one, injectable hyaluronic acid-based fillers smooth lines and improve moisture levels. “Hyaluronic acid has the ability to attract and hold several times its weight in water and when used in injectable fillers it has been shown to increase skin hydration levels,” says Dr Hunt.