The skin may deteriorate in a number of ways with age. Apart from wrinkles, which are discussed in a separate entry, there may be discoloration, dryness, a crepey appearance and sagging and possibly thread veins in the cheeks. Aromatherapy treatments, and creams made with essential oils, can help to minimise all of these problems.

A good supply of oxygen to the growing layer of the skin is important in maintaining the health and appearance of the skin, and massage can help here because it stimulates the local circulation. Massage directly on the skin of the face must always be very gentle, but a vigorous massage of the scalp will increase the blood circulation to the whole head, including the face. This is something that anybody can do for themselves daily, although the facial massage is best left to a trained person, and should form the basis of treatment for all the problems mentioned above.

The outermost, visible layer of the skin (the epidermis) is composed entirely of dead cells, and the health and appearance of the skin depends to a large degree on the layer of new cells constantly growing beneath it. The rate of renewal may slow with age, so cytophylactic essential oils (those which stimulate healthy new cell growth) are important to counteract this. Neroli and Lavender are the most important of these oils, and both are suitable for older skins.

Most skins become less oily as they grow older. You have probably observed that people whose skin was oily in youth, preserve a young looking skin much longer. The production of sebum, a natural oil which lubricates the skin, is at its peak in adolescence, and slowly declines thereafter. Massage with such oils as Geranium, Jasmine, Neroli or Rose will help to restore this natural balance to some degree, but it will probably also be helpful to add to the amount of oil on the skin surface by using richer carrier oils, such as avocado, jojoba, peach kernel and a little wheatgerm. These can be used in the form of creams as well as massage oils.

Frankincense is a very good oil for the treatment of older skins, with those already listed; also Sandalwood and Patchouli for anybody who likes its rather individual smell. Any of these will help to counteract the dullness and crepey texture, especially when combined with the benefits of regular massage. If, in spite of such treatment, the skin still looks muddy in colour, face-packs with yoghurt will help to give a fresher appearance. Simple facepacks made from fresh avocado pulp, or ground almonds mixed with a little honey are also very good for older skins.

Thread veins (broken capillaries) are sometimes a problem for older women. Oils of Camomile and Rose can help to diminish them, though it may be several months before real improvement is seen. Use them in massage oils, and in creams or lotions to be applied to the skin daily, as they really must be used very regularly to have any effect. As the treatment needs to be continued for quite a long time, it is best to alternate these two oils rather than use both together all the time. Extremes of heat should be avoided, also very hot drinks, smoking and alcohol.

The skin reflects the general health of the body, and everything that contributes to that will delay and minimise the ravages that time makes on the skin: exercise, excellent nutrition, adequate sleep and avoidance of unnecessary pollutants. See also the entry for WRINKLES.

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