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How to help regenerate your skin

Our bodies, and particularly our skin, possess an amazing ability to recover from the damage we and our environment inflict on them each day. Find out how regeneration works and what you can do to help.

What exactly is regeneration?

Regeneration can mean a number of things for our skin. First, it is the process by which old, dead skin cells on the surface of the skin are replaced by younger, fresher skin cells underneath. Skin cell turnover decreases with age (when we're young, it's estimated to take around 28 days) so we usually need to exfoliate or get help from skin superhero retinol (see below) to keep our complexion fresh.

Second, regeneration can also refer to boosting key proteins in our skin, such as collagen or elastin, which are important for the skin's structure, density and elasticity (which is the ability to 'bounce back' after being pulled out of shape, for example when you smile or frown.)

How can you speed up skin regeneration?

Thankfully, there are a number of things you can do. Physical exfoliation is the most obvious step, which means removing the dead cells, dirt and debris on the surface of your skin with a (gentle!) facial exfoliator.

Surprisingly, as early as our twenties the skin's exfoliation process decreases by around one quarter, so everyone will benefit from the right product. Look for natural exfoliating particles (such as fruit extracts), moisture-boosting ingredients and something to actively soothe the skin (such as chamomile) if you find your skin sensitive. If you want to give your skin an intensive treatment, massage your exfoliator into the skin for longer (rather than harder) to avoid damaging your skin.

The slowed rate of skin cell renewal as we age is largely due to a decline in oestrogen levels (which starts fairly gradually after the age of 30, then sharply during and after the menopause), so we can prompt the skin to regenerate by using plant oestrogens (phytoestrogens). By mimicking natural oestrogen, phytoestrogens help increase the rate of skin cell turnover, boost collagen and elastin as well as maintain hydration by stimulating the production of hyaluronic acid.

Retinol is also high on the list of any dermatologist for increasing the rate of skin cell renewal. An intensive form of vitamin A, retinol has been shown to help increase collagen, help control pigmentation and refine pore size. Even-toned skin with small pores will always look healthier than skin that has age spots and enlarged pores.

Simple steps for radiance

By embracing an effective skincare routine, you can help support your skin's natural regeneration process.

  1. Keep the surface layer of the skin clean, smooth and radiant with a nourishing exfoliator, which will remove dirt, debris and dry, dead skin, all of which can create a dull appearance as well as clogging pores.
  2. In the morning, apply a serum with phytoestrogens for collagen-boosting action as well as locking in hydration and density. In the evening, target age spots, uneven skin tone and a loss of skin density to make the most of your skin's natural renewal process overnight. Look for retinol and phytoestrogens, alongside a gentle whitening ingredient to target age spots. 
  3. Always finish your routine, morning or night, with a moisturiser that feeds the skin with the key ingredients for regeneration; phytoestrogens, retinol, and vitamin C. 

Nothing beats a healthy, balanced diet to provide all the nutrients we need. But when this isn't possible, supplements can help. This article isn't intended to replace medical advice. Please consult your healthcare professional before trying supplements or herbal medicines.

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