Natural atrophy, gravity, exposure to sun, weather and toxins are factors that damage and age male and female skin equally. There are many misconceptions about how men and women age, but it is often more a case of how they are permitted to age. For too long myths have been propagated by a society and its media machine tolerant and supportive of male maturity while being intolerant and critical of the same natural processes in women. However, both men and women go through ageing similarly, the only differences, if they occur at all, are to do with the pace of ageing and how it speeds up or slows down at different stages of life. Women may experience more intense periods of change due to hormonal production, but men actually begin ageing before us, in terms of their fertility, which begins to reduce from the age of about 30.
Women's hormonal changes are acute during menopause, which can impact on the appearance of the skin, and cause other symptoms which we explored in this previous article. But men also go through what is sometimes referred to as the andropause, a more gradual, subtle version of menopause which is spread out over a longer period of time.
Increased testosterone in men means their skin is generally thicker than women's and can appear to age less rapidly, but as their testosterone levels drop, (about 1 percent every year after the age of 30) their skin also ages and loses density. Other challenging symptoms for middle aged men include a loss of fertility and libido, a loss of lean muscle tone, sleep disturbances, emotional upheavals and other challenging issues such as erectile disfunction. On the whole mainstream media keeps fairly quiet about this, possibly to maintain the image of women as 'other' and at the mercy of their hormones, while upholding the illusion that men go through the majority of their lives with the same levels of virility and vigour - this simply is not true, and is unhelpful to both sexes seeking support and advice.
As we age the physiology of (human!) skin changes. Dryness and thinning from reduction in certain proteins like collagen mean both men's and women's skin really benefits from extra nourishment at night. Some rich moisturisers and balms are too much to apply as a day cream - but will protect and feed the skin as we sleep.
Collagen is the supportive protein structure in the skin with elastic fibres providing an ability to 'bounce back'. The drop in collagen and elastic fibres as we age accelerates wrinkling and sagging in male and female skin and is known as Elastosis. For women, the decrease in B-Estradiol during menopause can also intensify the ageing of the skin over a shorter period. For men this change is often more constant and spread out.
Blood flow through the dermal capillaries reduces as we age too, but for women, particularly during menopause, less nutrients and oxygen are available to the Basal Cell layers of the epidermis. This contributes to the thinning of the epidermis and a slower cell renewal rate, which can lead to water loss and much dryer skin. Reduced blood flow to the skin also affects men as they mature and can cause dryness, flakiness and a loss of bounce and colour.
Night moisturisers with certain anti-oxidants can help to build collagen and fight or protect against free radicals - which are proven to age the skin. Massaging the skin with a good quality, toxin free face cream before sleep will also increase blood-flow to the epidermis, help to reduce thinning by replacing lost oils and nutrients, and lock in moisture as you sleep, minimising dullness as a result of dehydration. The skin does a lot of its repairing and rejuvenating during the night so feeding it with a potent cocktail of plant extracts, vitamins and essential oils will help it with its work.
We make a number of extremely rich and natural moisturisers and balms for women and men that can be used to nourish and restore the skin at night:
Our Wild Beauty Balm Concentrate contains ten active botanical oils and five essential oils and can be used as a day or night cream. It includes ingredients such as Pomegranite Seed Oil, and Black Seed Oil to prevent UV damage, and to plump and brighten skin while reducing inflammation and fine lines. Hemp seed oil, and Labdanum resin work to regenerate cells, and rehydrate without clogging pores. Jojoba oil is also great for mature skin as it regulates sebum production. The presence of Rose oil and Lavender oil reduce stress and calm the emotions, helping to promote a good night's sleep.
Our Intense Repair Facial Serum #3 draws on the wisdom of herbalists and homeopaths to create an exceptionally nourishing oil from petals, leaves, stems and fruit we have grown organically or gathered. It includes Rosehip for its antioxidant and wrinkle reducing properties, Arnica to heal blemishes, Meadowsweet to deeply condition the skin, Calendula and Hypericum for their fantastic healing powers and Pumpkin oil to plump and help reduce wrinkles. Myrrh, Rose and Labdanum oils also deeply hydrate and brighten tired or dry skin and produce a wonderful, uplifting scent.
Both of these products are great for men and women but Amanda has also developed Beard & Face Food, a balm specifically created for male skin and facial hair, which is available in our Lewes store. It contains Almond and Jojoba oil to soften and protect and Beeswax to lock in moisture. It also includes Rosehip and Calendula oils for their antioxidant and scar healing properties. The Lavandula Angustifolia is added for its anti inflammatory benefits, while Bay and Oregano are antiseptic and anti bacterial. The balm also includes and homeopathic Graphites and Urtica urens to help with skin conditioning. Use very sparingly as this balm is extremely rich and goes a very long way.