Ageing is a natural process of the body. We often hear of the term “ageing population”. According to WHO, the proportion of people in the South-East Asia Region aged 60 or above was 9.8% in 2017. This will be increased to 13.7% and 20.3% by 2030 and by 2050, respectively.
It is no wonder that governments around the world, including in Asia, are looking at blueprints to make their country better places to age. At a community and national level, concerted efforts are made to empower and support our seniors to lead healthy and purposeful lives. At an individual level, here are some recommendations to help you age gracefully and, slow down skin ageing and hair loss.
How to Protect Your Skin from Ageing
Your skin decreases in thickness by about 6% per decade on average as your skin cell turnover slows down. Environmental factors, such as ultraviolet (UV) light exposure over the years, pollution or cigarette smoking can also cause skin ageing.
5 Tips to Slow Down Skin Ageing
1. The most essential skincare that you should invest in is sun protection. Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen (that protects from both UVA and UVB rays) with an SPF of at least 30. Face moisturizer also helps to trap moisture and give you a more youthful look. Recommend to apply face moisturizer immediately after bath.
2. Eat a healthy and well-balanced diet, with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. Quarter Half Plate is an easy way to remember the right proportions of each food group in a well-balanced meal. Quarter Half Plate means ¼ plate of wholegrains, ¼ plate of protein like meat and ½ plate of fruit and vegetables. Avoid sugar-rich food that contains high amounts of refined carbohydrates.
3. Avoid smoking and drink less alcohol. Smoking causes the skin to age quickly and results in a dull, swallow complexion. Alcohol dehydrates the skin and makes you look older.
4. Exercise for at least 150 minutes a week. Exercising improves blood circulation and gives the skin a more youthful look. You can engage in aerobic activities like brisk walking, leisure bike riding, walking up hills or hiking, swimming, playing badminton, etc.
5. Avoid repetitive facial expressions. This is because lines may form if you repeatedly contract the same muscles over many years.
Hair Loss in Ageing
Hair loss affects both men and women. Made of protein strands, a single strand of hair has a normal life of about 2 to 7 years. Over time, hair fibre becomes finer or thinner due to reduced hormonal support. Some hair follicles might even stop producing new hair altogether due to diminished sex hormones that help stimulate follicle fibres. Greying of the hair might also happen due to pigment cells not producing as much pigment as before.
8 Tips to Slow Down Hair Loss
Fortunately, there are steps you can take before and after menopause to slow down hair loss or greying.
1. Use a gentle shampoo for your regular hair washing. Gently massage the shampoo onto your scalp, focusing on the scalp rather than the mids and ends of the hair. Do not rub your hair while rinsing as it might damage your hair or strain the hair roots.
2. Do not shampoo too frequently also as you might unintentionally upset your scalp’s natural balance of healthy oils that help moisturize. How frequently it is recommended to shampoo depends on the individual and the condition of your scalp (oily or dry scalp).
3. Do not forget about your conditioner. Invest in one. This is because the conditioner will make your hair look and feel better, by adding moisture to replenish the hair’s sheen and natural oils lost during shampooing. More importantly, unconditioned hair is entangled and difficult to comb, and the conditioner will prevent this damage.
4. That said, do not apply the conditioner to your scalp. Instead, you have to start at the ears and work downward.
5. Harsh treatments such as colouring, perming or rebonding your hair might also result in hair damage. If you need to treat your hair, space it apart. For example, you can perm first, then wait for 2 weeks before you colour your hair.
6. Forgo daily heat stylings, such as blow dryers, curling wands and flat irons. Choose to air dry your hair when possible, use the lowest heat setting, or limit the time that you use these heat styling devices. If you want to use these devices, a tip is to apply a heat protectant to your hair first.
7. Avoid pulling your hair back tightly into a ponytail or bun as this causes tension and strain to your hair root.
8. Eat a complete, protein-rich diet. This includes green leafy vegetables, eggs, omega-3-rich fatty fish, berries and avocados.
Despite the negative connotation associated with the word ageing, it is important to remember that ageing need not only associated with “looking old” or “losing hair”. Ageing should be a blissful state in your life where you celebrate your wisdom, experiences, grace and beauty