The anti-aging market is a multi-billion-dollar-a-year industry. Aging affects every human being on the planet, and it is one of the most common skincare concerns. Unfortunately, it is a normal human biological process. You cannot stop or reverse aging completely, but you can slow it down.
What is aging?
- Intrinsic aging, controlled by our genes, is the normal biologically-determined process all cells experience. As we age, the skin produces less collagen and elastin, which causes wrinkles and sagging. The skin thins out and dehydrates, giving us a dull complexion. The muscles atrophy and get thinner, and the bones shrink in size, giving the face a sunken-in look.
- Extrinsic aging, or premature aging, is governed by our lifestyle choices. We can change certain aspects of our lifestyle to slow down normal aging and help preserve our youthful appearance for as long as possible.
Methods for reducing premature skin aging
You can reduce premature skin aging by altering your lifestyle, adopting proper skincare, and even utilizing anti-aging products and procedures.
Sun ProtectionThe UV radiation from the sun is the number one cause of premature skin aging. It is almost totally preventable with some simple lifestyle changes.
- Wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen, at least an SPF 30, with UVA and UVB protection every day. SPF 50 is better. Use a water-resistant sunscreen for sports.
- Reapply your sunscreen every 1-2 hours you are outside. You need to apply it even if you are driving in the car or sitting by a window. The radiation from the sun passes right through the glass. Reapply your sunscreen immediately after swimming, sweating, or getting wet. Even water-resistant sunscreens only last about 40 minutes.
- Apply enough sunscreen. A shot glass amount will cover your entire body and face.
- Wear a wide-brimmed hat when you are outside.
- Use sunglasses with UVA and UVB protection.
- Apply chapstick with at least an SPF 30 to your lips and reapply every 1-2 hours.
- Wear UPF clothing. This clothing has sunscreen built-in or coating the fabric to protect your skin better than regular clothing. Regular clothing does not offer enough sun protection.
- Avoid being outside during peak hours of the day from 10 am-4 pm.
- Seek shade when you are outside.
- Limit your time outside.
- Do not use tanning beds. They are more deadly than the sun.
- If you need to be tan, use self-tanning creams or get a spray tan.
Smoking causes premature aging in several ways.
- It constricts the blood vessels in your skin, which inhibits blood flow. Blood carries nutrients and oxygen to our skin. Without nutrients, the skin will starve and not look its best.
- Repeated pursing of the lips leads to wrinkles referred to as "smoker's lines" around the mouth.
- It breaks down collagen in our skin, which leads to wrinkles.
Alcohol damages the skin by causing dehydration which makes wrinkles appear worse. It also dilates your blood vessels and results in broken blood vessels on your face giving you a ruddy complexion.
Sugars and carbohydrates lead to collagen breakdown. Stick to a diet rich in antioxidant fruits and vegetables. Antioxidants protect the skin from collagen breakdown from free radicals produced by the sun and pollution.
Exercise improves circulation and the immune system. The increased circulation and blood flow bring more nutrients and oxygen to the skin and eliminate waste products faster to keep the skin healthy. It also reduces stress which helps the skin as well.
Drinking enough water will help flush toxins and wastes out of the body. This keeps your body and skin healthier.
It is vital to get enough sleep. This is the time when the body repairs itself. Without proper repair time, the body stays damaged, and the skin looks dull and aged.
Also, sleeping on your back is best. Repeated mechanical compression of your face by laying on it can cause wrinkles to form.
Proper skin hygiene
Proper skincare is essential for the health of your skin.
- You must wash your face twice a day to remove dirt, oil, bacteria, and toxins, so they do not damage the skin.
- You need to moisturize twice a day as well. Every skin type can benefit from the right moisturizer. If you do not give your skin moisture, it will overproduce oil. Also, dry, dehydrated skin looks more wrinkled.
- You should exfoliate your face 1-2 times a week. If you exfoliate more often, you could irritate and damage your skin. Exfoliation is beneficial because it removes dead skin cells, improves circulation, and preps the skin for anti-aging products. Your anti-aging products will penetrate better and give you superior results if you exfoliate first.
Anti-aging procedures, especially non-invasive ones, have exponentially increased in popularity:
- Botox. Botox injections are a quick and easy procedure to lessen dynamic wrinkles. They give you a more relaxed, softened, and less wrinkled look. It may even prevent the worsening of wrinkles. If the muscles cannot move, then they cannot make wrinkles.
- Dermal fillers and bio stimulatory agents. These injections can add volume, sculpt and contour, and help remove wrinkles from your face.
- Lasers. Lasers can help remove a multitude of aging problems. Depending on the type of laser, it can erase brown spots, wrinkles, and textural irregularities, and even tighten your skin.
Even though you cannot stop intrinsic programmed aging, you can prevent premature extrinsic aging. You can slow down the inevitable and help keep your youthful appearance for as long as possible.
These lifestyle changes are easy to incorporate into your daily routine and make a big impact on your skin.
If you have trouble deciding which anti-aging product or procedure is right for you, consult your dermatologist.
It is never too late to start taking good care of your skin. Be patient and consistent, and you will be rewarded.
American Academy of Dermatology. Anti-aging skincare.
Baumann, L. (2015). Cosmeceuticals and Cosmetic Ingredients.McGraw-Hill Education, NY.
Draelos Z.D. (2005). Cosmeceuticals. Elsevier Inc, NY.
Ganceviciene, R., Liakou, A. I., Theodoridis, A., Makrantonaki, E., & Zouboulis, C. C. (2012). Skin anti-aging strategies. Dermato-endocrinology.4
Skin Cancer Foundation. Sun protection.