Can your habits age your skin?

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Can your habits age your skin?

Skin is as fragile as a flower. Even aside from genes and age, there are many factors that make it wilt and wither.

One of the most overlooked causes is behavioural aging. According to Patricia Pineau, L'Oréal research scientific communication director, behavioural aging is "the visible result of everything we subject our skin to, whether through our lifestyles, behaviours or environments." These factors contribute to dark spots, oily and dry patches, sagging tired-looking skin, and an overall uneven skin tone.

Vichy Laboratories conducted a study involving more than 9,700 women in six countries. In it, 77 percent of women admitted to not getting enough sleep, 66 percent said they were burdened with daily stressors and 63 percent owned up to having an unbalanced diet. All of these factors contribute to behavioural aging. Other high-risk habits include a lack of exercise, living in a polluted environment, experiencing hormonal imbalances, smoking and sitting in the sun sans protection. In addition to the harm these aggressors do to your body, they accelerate the aging process of your largest organ, your skin.

To explain, let's look at the effects of a sugary diet. It turns out, sweets aren't just bad news for your waistline. When sugars break down and hit your bloodstream, they latch onto protein molecules in a process called glycation. This degrades collagen and elastin (fibres that act like your skin's cushiony mattress), which  leads to wrinkles and sagging skin.

Another cause of behavioural aging is stress. Unlike sugar, stress holds no allure and is often unavoidable. Stress prompts inflammation, which can make skin react in a number of ways, from becoming red and blotchy to dry and dull.

The good news is that there are things we can do to curb the behaviours that cause aging. And the even better news? There's a serum that can help protect skin, and prevent and treat the effects of behavioural aging. Vichy Idéalia Life Serum ($59, is the first of its kind to target all the enemies of behavioural aging. The serum combines the active ingredients LR2412 and LHA to help exfoliate skin, reduce pore size and correct pigmentation flaws.

"It's the first time we've launched these ingredients together," says Florence Benech, Vichy's international director of skin-care development. "LR2412 diffuses deeper into the skin than LHA, but both have exfoliating properties that work on different biological properties," she says.

It took 78 trials to perfect the formula for this creamy serum. "Finding the right base to avoid irritation is crucial when combining two very strong active ingredients," says Benech. The serum is composed of silicones, light oils, active ingredients and gold and red pearls that burst upon contact, giving skin an instant pick-me-up.

The next time you're flustered with the reflection staring back at you in the bathroom mirror, try clocking in a few more winks of sleep, skipping the sweets and getting a little more serious with your skin-care routine.

We have lots of tips to help you keep your skin healthy, including these dermatologist-approved anti-aging tips.
This story was originally titled "Message in a Bottle" in the October 2013 issue.
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Can your habits age your skin?