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What causes that premature, aged look?
You know it, and you want to avoid it– often tanned, dry, leathery and wrinkly looking skin in older men and women, sometimes with large dark spots and deep creases everywhere.
For some, these changes occur earlier than expected, causing you to look older than you actually are. In this case, it’s called premature aging.
Though you can’t stop your skin from aging outright, with the right routine, habits, and skincare treatments, you can prevent early damage and extend that youthful appearance.
Stay fresh with a few simple skincare tips for aging.
Tip number one – and probably the most important – is to use sunscreen regularly.
Sunscreen is your first line of defense in preventing premature aging and maintaining healthy skin in general, and you should be using a gentle SPF product every day. Ultraviolet rays from the sun are really radiation, classified as UVA, UVB or UVC.
UVA radiation is the type that causes the skin to age prematurely, though both UVA and UVB rays can damage the skin.
Studies have shown that broad-spectrum sunscreen has a powerful effect when it comes to preventing premature aging. You’ve seen the term, but broad-spectrum means that it blocks both UVA and UVB radiation. Some sunscreens do not protect against UVA rays because UVB are most commonly responsible for sunburns. Still, that UVA is doing hidden damage, and you want it off your skin.
The American Academy of Dermatology advises using water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. It should be applied to all skin that clothing doesn’t cover and reapplied every few hours if you’re out in direct sun. If you’re engaging in physical activity, perspiring or otherwise getting your skin wet, you may need to reapply your sunscreen immediately after or once every hour for maximum protection.
Even powerful sunblock doesn’t eliminate all of the rays from getting through, so minimize your time in direct sunlight, wearing protective clothing and hats when possible and using umbrellas and shades to help.
Regular sun protection is likely the number one factor in fighting premature aging.
It can be tempting to pop into a tanning salon over the winter months when you want that sun-kissed glow, but the ultraviolet light tanning beds employ to give you your darker look are equally responsible for wrinkles and skin cancer. These days there are many quality self-tanning topical options that can give you that same glow without the dangers of radiation.
Studies suggest that premature aging of the skin can be prevented in-part by eating a diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables. Diets high in sugar and other carbs also may contribute to the appearance of early aging and worse: metabolic disorders, hypertension, diabetes, and the list goes on. As your largest organ, your skin doesn’t exist separate from the rest of you, and what’s good for your general wellbeing is good for your skin too.
Water is key to your bodily processes (you’re over 80% H2O after all), including keeping the skin full and youthful through improved elasticity. Yet the average person doesn’t consume enough water to satisfy the body’s needs daily. Experts recommend that men drink about three liters of fluid each day and that women get about two. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding need more, as do those spending time outside or being active.
Cigarettes contain toxins that are damaging to the skin in addition to the lungs, heart and other major organs. Smoking restricts blood flow, including to the skin, causing skin to lose luster and appear dull and dry. Nicotine and other substances in cigarettes damage collagen in the skin, resulting in more wrinkles. Repeated activities like the sucking motion associated with smoking can also cause wrinkles at the corners of your mouth.
Not only does regular exercise keep you in shape, but it may support younger-looking skin too. Exercise boosts your metabolism, gets blood pumping and the cardiovascular system in shape, and contributes to healthy skin elasticity. Additionally, sweat is a natural bacterial cleanser.
Alcohol dehydrates the body. Although the occasional drink is fine, over-consumption of alcohol on a consistent basis can damage more than just your liver, causing skin to appear older and contributing to skin dullness.
Minimize how frequently you touch your face during the day. Your fingers and hands are covered in oil and germs that transfer to your skin. Be careful not to pick or scratch at blemishes or pimples, as this will only cause irritation, and it can cause even more blemishes or scarring.
Sleep is critical for recovery nightly. Your body needs adequate, restful sleep to go through the normal regeneration process, and if you aren’t getting enough sleep you’re putting all physiology at risk. The CDC recommends that adults get seven hours or more a night.
Stress is a factor in how your body ages. Hormones associated with stress can cause your skin to look older than it actually is. Skin conditions such as eczema, acne and rosacea are all exacerbated by stress. Mindfulness meditation and yoga have been proven to help stress management.
Long, hot showers might feel nice, but they may not be great for your skin. Extreme heat damages the outer layer of skin, drying it out and causing irritation. Instead, try bathing in milder water and less frequently. Twice-daily vigorous scrubbing in a hot shower isn’t ideal.
After you’re done bathing, apply moisturizer to help your skin lock in moisture.
A quality and consistent skincare routine can take years off your appearance. Consistency is key.
Your daily routine should consist of two routines: morning and nighttime skincare. When you care for your skin in the morning, you’re preparing it for the day ahead. You want to protect it from UV rays, and a quality routine might look something like this:
You may be able to combine some of these steps with a moisturizer or makeup that contains a broad-spectrum sunscreen.
At night, you’re preparing your skin for sleep and recovery. Because of this, night is an excellent time to apply skincare products that can work their magic as you rest. A nighttime routine might include:
The prescription retinoid tretinoin is one of the most effective ways to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. It works by accelerating cell production and turnover at the surface of the skin - retinoids like this are one of dermatologists' most powerful tools.
To find the right prescription treatment for your skin, NavaMD has made dermatology easy. Our clinicians evaluate your condition without ever seeing you in-person, selecting a personalized formula for your situation, if appropriate. It's all done online, and your personalized treatment is sent to your door.
This article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice.
Consult a healthcare professional or call a doctor in the case of a medical emergency