As we age, our skin undergoes several changes which can often be attributed to natural biological processes, environmental influences, and our lifestyle choices.
As we head into our 60s, we may even start to see a lot of our previous lifestyle choices start to really show on our skin (hello sun damage!). Put simply, what we did during our earlier years we can pay for later on our skin (eeek).
The good news is that it’s never too late to make some changes, particularly if you’re wanting to fix any earlier issues and prevent any further damage to your skin.
Many factors affect the skin as we age and if you’re reading this and noticing those changes already – you’re not alone. Here are some common changes that occur in our skin during our 60s:
Wrinkles and Lines: It’s likely you may already possess many wrinkles and lines – this is very normal for someone in their 60s and beyond. You can be proud of these lines – they show that you’ve lived! The reason we often get more lines as we age is because the production of collagen and elastin (which are responsible for the skin’s firmness and elasticity) decreases over time.
Thinning of the Skin: This is also a very common skin concern for someone in their 60s. The outer layer of the skin, known as the epidermis, becomes thinner as we age. This makes the skin more vulnerable to damage and increases the risk of bruising and tearing. Some people often refer to their skin being like paper in their mature years – it really can easily ‘tear’. The good news is that there are some things you can do to help strengthen the skin barrier.
Dryness: Ageing skin naturally tends to produce less natural oil, resulting in drier and rougher skin. At times it may feel itchy and can be prone to developing flaky patches. Again, this is a very normal thing for someone in their 60s and beyond. Drinking lots of water and adopting a good skincare regime can help to restore some of the moisture.
Age Spots and Pigmentation: This is one of those things that tend to appear in the later years, but the damage was done in the previous years! If you were a regular sun baker or someone who enjoyed time in the sun, chances are you will have some age spots or pigmentation. Exposure to the sun’s harmful UV rays over the years often leads to the development of age spots (also known as liver spots) and an uneven skin tone. These dark spots are caused by an overproduction of melanin, the pigment responsible for skin colour. However, even if you avoided the sun in your younger years, there are other factors that can lead to pigmentation such as hormones or genetics.
Reduced Healing and Recovery: The skin’s ability to repair itself diminishes with age. Wounds and injuries may take longer to heal, and the skin may be more susceptible to infections.
Decreased Subcutaneous Fat: The layer of fat beneath the skin, called subcutaneous fat, thins out as we age. This can result in a loss of volume, plumpness and a hollowed-looking appearance – particularly in the cheeks, temples, and hands. Again, this is a very normal thing to happen to our skin as we age.
Reduced Elasticity: The skin loses its ability to bounce back and becomes less elastic. This is due to a decrease in the production of elastin, resulting in sagging and loose skin.
It’s important to know that while there are common things that happen to the skin in the mature years, everyone’s skin is different. Plus, everyone led different lifestyles and so differing experiences in sun exposure, smoking, and skincare habits can influence the extent and severity of these changes. Taking good care of your skin, such as wearing sunscreen, keeping it hydrated, and adopting a healthy lifestyle, can help minimise some of these effects and maintain skin health as you age.
Keep skin hydrated: As mentioned earlier, mature skin tends to become drier, so it’s important to choose a moisturiser that is specifically formulated for mature skin. We need to add more topical antioxidants to fight free radical damage because as we age our bodies need this extra defence to fight against oxidative stress (when there are too many free radicals and not enough antioxidants to quench them). Apply this both in the morning and at night, along with ensuring you’re hydrated on the inside too (hint – drink plenty of water)!
Protect skin from the sun: Sun protection is crucial at any age and the practice of sun safety shouldn’t stop as we reach our mature years. Use broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher every day, even on cloudy days (and even inside)! The harmful UV rays can penetrate through windows. Reapply sunscreen every two hours if you’re spending time outdoors and wear protective clothing, a hat and sunglasses to further shield your skin from the sun’s harmful rays.
Gentle cleansing: Opt for a mild, non-drying cleanser that doesn’t strip away your skin’s natural oils and try to avoid excessively hot water, as this can further dry out your skin.
Maintain a healthy lifestyle: A healthy lifestyle can have a positive impact on your skin’s appearance. Eat a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. Avoid excessive alcohol consumption and smoking, as they can accelerate skin ageing.
Regular exercise: Engage in regular physical activity to improve blood circulation, which can enhance the delivery of nutrients to your skin. Exercise also promotes a healthy complexion and overall well-being.
Eye and lip care: The skin around the eyes and lips is delicate and tends to show signs of ageing faster. Use a gentle eye serum to hydrate and minimise the appearance of lines and crow’s feet. Apply a nourishing lip balm to keep your lips moisturised and prevent dryness.
Remember, everyone’s skin is unique, so it’s essential to find a skincare routine that works best for you. Be patient, consistent, and consult with a dermatologist or your GP if you have any specific concerns or conditions.