"At 50,” George Orwell famously exclaimed, “Everyone has the face he deserves.” The writer might be known for his frankness—but this time he missed the mark. As we age, poor skin isn’t always the fault of late nights and bad deeds. It can often come down to things we can’t help: the climate, our genes. Other times it’s as simple as curling up each night in a comfortable-but-damaging position, or using alcohol-filled skin products that promise the world (and leave us dry).
In celebration of good, glowing skin, we’ve collated the biggest offenders that accelerate ageing, and the simple ways to combat them.
1. Alcohol in skin care
Just as drinking too much alcohol ages skin, so does using skin care products that contain alcohol.
The only difference between the two is that using skin care made with alcohol is ageing your skin from the outside. It dries out the top layer of the skin making it look dull and tired. In some skin types it can cause breakouts and acne even though alcohol is sometimes used in products to treat these conditions.
Why do many skin care products contain alcohol if it’s so unhelpful for our skin? Our opinion is that this is simply a quick and easy way of making plant extracts. And alcohol is cheap so manufacturing costs are kept low.
Disappointingly many certified organic skin care products use alcohol as a main ingredient. Yes, alcohol can be classed as ‘organic’. And it’s ‘natural’ because it’s made from fermented fruits, vegetables or grains. But that doesn’t make it nutritive and enriching for the skin. It's still pure alcohol and still causes drying damage to skin.
Types of alcohol in skin care products
Will damage skin:
- Alcohol Denat. - the general term for denatured alcohol. Denat is short for 'Denatured' which means that a small amount of a denaturant is added to the ethanol to make it taste bad. This is a legal requirement in many countries including Australia when alcohol is used in skin care (because it isn't food, a beverage or an oral drug).
- SD ALCOHOL 40 - SD stands for Specific Denatured alcohol, again a mixture of ethanol with a denaturing agent.
- The 'organic skin care type of alcohol' - ethanol made from fermented fruits, vegetables and grains).
Won't damage skin:
Cetyl alcohol, cetearyl alcohol and stearyl alcohol are not alcohol as in 'ethanol' but instead are 'fatty alcohols'. This can sound confusing but they are in fact ethanol free. The highest quality of these fatty alcohols are made from white of coconut.
2. Cleansing with harsh ingredients
Harsh ingredients will age your skin. Take cleansers for example. Some beauty advice says to use ‘enzymes’ in cleansers to better remove makeup, dirt and oil at the end of the day.
‘Enzymes’ are supposed to be from fruit extracts and may sound healthy – after all it’s fruit, right?
In reality these are more likely to be harsh factory-made ingredients that strip nutrients from skin. Exactly the opposite of what Simplicité’s Plant Gel Cleansers and Sundew Cleansing Milk do.
Instead choose a gentle, pH-balanced cleanser that will effectively cleanse the skin but not strip it in the process. A gentle, natural cleanser is also able to be used around the eyes without causing burning or irritation.
3. Your sleep position
Getting enough sleep is essential for healthy looking skin but here’s how you may be ageing your skin while you sleep.
If you snooze on one side with your face scrunched into the pillow it’s highly likely that you’re fostering unnecessary lines and wrinkles on that side of your face, especially if you’ve been sleeping in that position for years. It takes effort to change this habit but to do so will be worthwhile. Try sleeping on your back or alternating sides so you’re not always lying on the one side of your face.
It can be helpful to invest in a silk pillowslip. Not only is sleeping on silk good for keeping your hair un-mussed overnight but by doing this you will also wake up with smooth, not-scrunched-up skin.
4. Drying makeup
When you have fresh and vibrant looking skin you don’t want to use makeup that turns it into just the opposite – dry and dull looking. Makeup should complement your skin, not cover it up. If you feel that you need to cover up your skin with foundation, think about using natural skin care products that work. Doing this will improve your skin so you wont want or need to apply so much cover-up. Confidence in how your skin looks means you don’t need to use excessive makeup.
Some mineral powder foundations can make even the best skin look dry. If you’re noticing this problem, try other brands and find one that enhances your skin rather than dulling the complexion. The best mineral makeup should ideally give a delicate, light look and can be 'built up' for a more dense coverage.
5. Sunscreens that congest skin
Thick and greasy sunscreen can spoil your day.
It’s more than just the discomfort factor. Thick sunscreens are usually zinc or titanium based and they can congest skin unless zealous attention is paid to cleaning the pores after each and every use.
Otherwise, congested skin accelerates skin ageing.
But be sure to use an effective and gentle exfoliator. Otherwise you’ll be adding ‘stripped skin’ to the list of skin problems!
Another problem is that the 'invisible' type of zinc sunscreens congest skin at a much deeper level where it's not possible to exfoliate and so clear this congestion.
Protecting against the sun is vitally important and we can be smarter in our sunscreen choices. Try avoiding zinc-based sunscreen in the first place – or at least avoid using it all over the face, unless you’re at an outdoor sporting event in an intense Australian summer.
That's because zinc-based sunscreens are best reserved for the nose and lips if you plan to be in direct sun for several hours – cricket anyone? It is then highly advisable afterwards to follow the cleansing routine described above. (exfoliate, exfoliate...) Otherwise dry skin problems or blackheads and pimples will be sure to follow.
Try our Simplicité Great Outdoors Moisturiser SPF15 which smooths easily over the skin, absorbs like a moisturiser, and effectively protects in most sun exposure situations. Best of all, it keeps skin happy and healthy - and clear of congestion.