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Skin regeneration explained and how you can help

We might not have the regenerating power of superheroes, but our bodies – and particularly our skin - do possess a remarkable ability to recover from quite a lot of the damage we (and our environment) inflict on them during the course of just an average day.

What exactly is regeneration?

Regeneration can mean a number of things for our skin. Firstly, it is the process by which old, dead skin cells on the surface of the skin are replaced by younger, fresher skin cells underneath, which can be achieved either through a physical or acid exfoliation or with the help of skin superhero retinol. Either way, skin cell turnover decreases with age (when we're young, it's estimated to take around 28 days) so we usually need to employ at least one of these methods to keep our complexion looking fresh.

Secondly, regeneration can also refer to boosting key proteins in our skin, such as collagen or elastin, which are important for 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 increase skin's 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 all women 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 to 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 with a consistent skin care routine:

  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 which 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.