Unlike good wine, the quality of our skin does not increase with age. It loses moisture, elasticity, and resiliency, leading to fine lines, wrinkles, and sagginess as the clock ticks by. In fact, there are two types of aging. First, intrinsic aging is genetically programmed, and you can’t do much about it without the help of a plastic surgeon. The second — extrinsic aging — is the result of environmental factors that speed up skin aging, and the major culprit in this equation is the sun, which is responsible for about 80% of facial wrinkles. Bust rest assured. In this post, we explain anything and everything you can do to help avoid premature skin aging, from lifestyle changes to skincare and tech-y devices.
How to prevent premature skin aging
Quite a few habits influence how your skin ages, and here are the most important lifestyle changes you can do to help prevent early skin aging.
Sleep on your back
Did you know something as simple as your sleep position could be a cause of premature aging signs? Sleeping on one side or on the stomach, with the face smashed into the pillow, is more likely to cause wrinkles, while sleeping on your back eliminates this potential risk and also allows the fluids in your skin to drain properly, preventing puffy eyes.
Although back sleeping is highly recommended to counteract possible wrinkles, it’s difficult to stick to it as we can not control the body and movements while we are asleep. But for that, special pillows designed to minimize the appearance of wrinkles during sleep exist — like Beauty Pillow.
The undereye area is the first to show wrinkles because the skin there is thinner and more fragile than the rest of the face. Fortunately, we can thwart early-onset eye aging with simply earing sunglaesses.
Because the sun degrades collagen and elastin, leading to crow’s feet and puffiness, you want to stay defended against possible damage by wearing sunglasses, especially in sunny weather that makes you squint (squinting can deepen wrinkles over time). However, remember that UV rays aren’t blocked by typical glass, so to really prevent sun damage, opt for lenses that have built-in UV protection.
Keep it on fire
A new study conducted by the University of California in San Francisco revealed that having sex at least once a week slows aging in women. The researchers monitored the sexual habits of 129 women in a relationship over one week. They found that those who had sex at least once during that week had significantly longer telomeres. Telomeres are regions at the end of the DNA strands that protect chromosomes from deteriorating, and the longer they are, the slower the aging process, the longer the cell lifespan, and the better overall health.
Watch your frowning
Fowning and laughing, squinting as well as any other repeated facial expression, lead to the apparition of wrinkles, called expressional wrinkles. The conclusion is not that you shouldn’t express emotions with your face, but try to be aware of how often you do it, especially frowning.
Smokers’ wrinkles have several distinctive features: they appear early and spread over a larger area (especially around the lips) deepen with age, and often have a brown appearance. Smoking tobacco imparts the production of collagen and elastin while also causing free radicals, the culprits that damage skin proteins and induce oxidative stress.
Apply sunscreen all year round
Today’s tan leads to tomorrow’s wrinkles. Excessive exposure to UV radiation increases the chances of premature wrinkles, so wearing sunscreen every day should be top of mind. Consider a sunscreen with at least 30 SPF that protects against both UVA and UVB rays — called broad-spectrum sunscreens — and reapply it every two hours for the pinnacle of protection.
Avoid tanning beds
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, indoor tanning has been associated with a significant increase in wrinkles and the risk of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. Twenty minutes on a tanning bed is equivalent to a whole day spent on the beach without sunscreen. Avoid artificial tanning methods for the sake of the future appearance of your skin. Instead, you can use self-tanning lotion, like Beauty by Earth Self Tanner Tanning Lotion, which everybody raves about.
Wear a hat
Whether you’re at the beach or out in the midday sun, consider wearing a 10cm wide-brimmed hat to prevent the sun from reaching your face and neck. Don’t rely on baseball caps or unpaired straw hats with rare braids as they let the sun’s rays penetrate and damage your skin.
Do not expose yourself to the midday sun
This advice refers to the interval 10 AM-4 PM in the summer and between noon and 2 PM in the rest of the year. During this period, ultraviolet radiation is the strongest, so it’s more likely to weaken proteins in the skin, leading to dehydration, fine lines and wrinkles the American Skin Association agrees.
Stay in the shade
Because wrinkles occur as a result of excessive sun exposure, on hot days, withdraw from time to time to a shady place. At the beach or in the garden, sit under a large umbrella. If you go for a walk or on a boat, wear clothing made of compact fabrics that prevent UV rays from reaching your skin.
Keep a constant weight
If you go through weight fluctuations, the skin will dilate to make room for excess body weight. Even worse, it is possible the skin won’t return to its original state after a weight loss regimen. As an experiment shows, massive weight fluctuations make the skin much weaker and less resistant and highly destroy collagen and elastic fiber networks.
Diligent skincare routine
You know the drill, cleanse, tone, apply eye cream, treat, moisturize, use sunscreen daily, and exfoliate once a week. In your anti-aging routine, you need products that contain antioxidants, like vitamin C and resveratrol, because these are able to neutralize free radicals that weaken protein fibers and induce wrinkles and dark spots apparition. Collagen boosters like vitamin C, peptides, glycolic acid, and retinol should also be on your radar to preserve your smooth, plump skin.
A 2020 study adds weight to the fact that having a complex 6-step skincare routine consisting of a cleanser, toner, serum, eye cream, and day and night cream, does better on every aspect (hydration, roughness, plumpness, firmness) than a simple routine that includes only cleansing and moisturizing. So it goes without saying: a diligent skincare routine is one of the best things you can do to turn on your skin’s defense against aging and delay the apparition of wrinkles.
Use hydrating products
If you have dehydrated skin (which makes aging signs appear more noticeable), using a moisturizer twice a day will slightly plump the skin, temporarily softening fine lines and wrinkles. This is not a long-term solution, but in the short term, it makes your skin look healthier. Make sure your moisturizer includes humectants and occlusives to add water and retain water in the skin (such as hyaluronic acid and squalane).
Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) work by removing dead cells from the skin’s surface, exposing young cells underneath to sight, and sloughing off old, dead cells. More than that, AHAs spur collagen growth and act like humectants, meaning they pull water into the skin, both leading to less noticeable fine lines and wrinkles. The most potent AHA is glycolic acid and can be found in a plethora of products, from toners, serums or creams with glycolic acid, yet is the most potent when used in a peel as that’s more likely to feature a higher concentration of the acid. If you want a milder alternative, you can opt for a lactic acid peel — due to the larger molecular size, lactic acid acts more on the skin’s surface, making it work more gently.
Increase your intake of omega-3s
Two changes in eating habits are likely to keep your skin moist. Consume at least twice a week fatty fish such as salmon, trout, mackerel, and fresh tuna (not canned, as the preservation process removes most of the beneficial oils), rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Likewise, you can add a few drops of hemp seed oil or flaxseed oil, which are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids, to fruit juices and salad dressings, to help increase skin moisture retention. If you want to increase the production of collagen in your body with foods, introduce these superfoods into your diet.
Make sure you drink about eight glasses of water per day to prevent skin dehydration. Drinking enough water helps your digestive system to flush out toxins from the body and helps nutrients reach the skin. In turn, this improves your complexion, helps it stay supple, and can make it glow.
Try to cut down on anything that stresses you out because that’s definitely causing your wrinkles. How? When you stress out a lot, your brain produces high amounts of cortisol, the stress hormone that breaks down collagen and elastin in the skin. Moreover, as a result of stress, you may tend to frown more and make all kinds of grimaces that cause wrinkles in the long term. Maybe start exercising, practice yoga, or meditate.
Get enough sleep
During sleep, the skin is in its repairing state and works to reverse the damage that occurs during the day. Besides, the blood flow increases and the cells produce new collagen while you Zzz. So getting enough bedtime comes with plenty of benefits for the whole body. On the flip side, sleep deprivation can weaken the skin and is more likely to induce premature wrinkling over time. A 2015 study found that the lack of sleep often exacerbates aging signs and weakens the barrier. The results showed that good sleepers had 30% better skin recovery than poor sleepers, while poor sleepers had a major increase in water loss.
This is why it’s important to stick to a sleep schedule and ensure you get your 7-9 hours of quality sleep every night to keep aging signs at bay. FYI, the skin regenerates the most between 9 PM and midnight.
Women’s Concepts uses reliable sources, including dermatologists’ insights, clinical trials, and scientific journals, to find accurate information and support all the facts shared in our articles. All statements and claims have clear and legit references. Read our editorial policy to learn more about our sources of information, our process of researching and fact-checking the content, and how our team strives to keep all articles updated, completed, and trustworthy.
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