Although we cannot stop time to prevent growing older, there are many methods to visibly reduce the signs of aging. Understanding what causes wrinkles and skin to age prematurely is the first step of early prevention.
Primary Causes of Aging Skin
The Sun: Of course, sunlight is notorious for wreaking havoc on the skin. While many people may think a glowing tan is healthy, it is actually quite the opposite.
Tanning increases skin damage and is an obvious sign that the ultraviolet rays of the sun have harmed the skin’s support structure and elastin. Prolonged sun exposure causes the skin to stretch, sag, lose elasticity, and ultimately, wrinkle.
Smoking: Not only does tobacco destroy your lungs, it also increases wrinkles and might even cause your skin to turn a grayish color.
When you smoke, the oxygen in your skin is replaced with carbon monoxide. In addition, the nicotine in cigarettes leaves skin dry and not only stains your teeth but causes skin discoloration as well.
The risk factor of developing the second most common type of skin cancer, squamous cell carcinoma, is also three times higher for smokers compared to non-smokers.
Alcohol Consumption: While many may think an occasional social drink is acceptable, having just one glass of wine or beer causes dehydration. Similar to cigarettes, alcohol also depletes the skin of necessary nutrients and minerals to leave the skin dull and dry.
Common Facial Expressions: Smiling too much may cause laugh lines around the mouth; squinting causes lines around the eyes.
After many years, the lines become permanent wrinkles which may make you appear older than you really are.
Poor Diet: If your daily meals exclude fruit and vegetables, but include high amounts of carbs and sugar, you may look older than those with healthy diets due to an increase in free radicals in your system.
Harsh Cleansing: The way you cleanse your skin may be harmful, especially if you scrub or use abrasive cleansers.
Lack of Exercise: If you are not physically active, your immune system is weaker and your body is not as healthy as someone who is physically active. In addition, the lack of exercise also causes poor circulation – both are known to visibly increase the signs of aging.
Slowing Down the Aging Process
The Sun: Protecting your skin from the harmful rays of the sun is essential. Use clothing to cover bare areas daily, or if it is just too hot to cover up, use a sunscreen that is water-resistant and at least SPF 30.
Smoking: If you are a smoker, just stop. While nearly 90% of former smokers kick the habit ‘cold turkey,’ there is help for the less fortunate 10%.
Many options recommended by medical professionals include:
- Nicotine replacement therapy
- behavioral therapy
- medications (Chantix and Zyban are most common)
Alcohol Consumption: If you are an avid drinker or just a social drinker, just stop.
Similar to smokers seeking to drop the habit, there is help available for those who are unable to cease the bad habit on their own. Self-help groups are one way to find the emotional support of those in the same predicament, and rehabilitation facilities are available for those who need extensive therapy.
There are also prescription medications available including Revia and Campral to stop alcohol dependency.
Facial Expressions: Avoid recurring facial expressions that tend to cause permanent wrinkles. While smiling for a moment or so is okay, wearing a constant grin will only increase laugh lines.
If you have trouble seeing and squint often, schedule an appointment with an optometrist for prescription lenses. If sunlight is the source of your bad vision, wear sunglasses. Not only will you protect your eyesight, you will also decrease the likelihood of lines and bags around your eyes.
Diet: A nutritious diet is essential for overall health, not just beautiful skin. Ensure your meals are well-balanced and include the necessary fruits, vegetables, and lots of water. Avoid greasy foods, those high in sugar and starches, and instead, replace them with foods packed with antioxidants (to combat free radicals) and omega-3s to increase oxygen to the skin and maintain a youthful appearance.
Cleansing: Gentle cleansers instead of harsh chemicals help to maintain a youthful glow. Hypoallergenic products are preferred over cleansers that may cause irritation and further damage. Washing your face at least twice daily is recommended. Since perspiration also causes irritation, bathing or showering is necessary to ensure the health of skin throughout your body, and using a moisturizer will help the skin retain water.
To take your facial cleansing a step further, you can use certain masks remove dirt and impurities that cannot be reached or removed by face washes. The thing with these masks, however, is that one may be better for your skin than the other.
For example, you may have oily or sensitive skin. Here is a buyer’s guide for face masks to help you decide.
Exercise: Regular exercise is vital to keep your cardiovascular system in check and your muscles tone, as well as increasing mental stability. Since exercise improves circulation, it also helps the skin look radiant and effervescent.
Bringing It All Together
Growing older is a natural process that should be embraced, not feared. By adhering to the aforementioned steps, while your body and mind continue to grow older, your healthy complexion will ensure you look decades younger than your peers.