While there are many, many, skincare products stacked high in the drugstore aisles, and all of them are aimed at preventing lines and wrinkles, we may wonder if there are other things we can do to prevent or delay the onset of skin aging, besides slathering on products.
While we know that most of these products do have benefits and help to reverse and minimize the signs of aging such as sagging, drooping, fine lines and wrinkles, is there more we can do? What are some tips to prevent the signs of aging before we are ready? Not that we will ever really be ready…
Skincare experts tell us that there are some things we can do to minimize the appearance of aging and prevent wrinkles.
Genetics has a role to play in how the skin ages. Intrinsic aging means the chronological clock inside of us results in slowly decreased collagen production over time, and for women, a dramatic decrease in collagen production begins after menopause. But in spite of that, there are things we can do to slow down this decrease in collagen depletion. While aging is inevitable, many of the signs of aging in our skin are prompted by environmental factors.
Shun the Sun
The number one cause of premature wrinkles and skin discolorations such as sun and age spots, is UV ray exposure. Even if you begin to protect your skin during your adult years, some damage has already been done if you were exposed to UV rays without protection as a child. Studies show that even a single sunburn during childhood increases the chance of developing skin cancer by a significant degree. Studies show that getting a sunburn even once every two years triples your chance of developing melanoma.
Besides increasing cancer risks, UV ray exposure compromises the integrity of the skin by promoting the development of DNA-damaging free radical cells. Free radical cells cause oxidative damage to skin cells which results in decreased collagen production. Collagen is the glue that binds our skin cells together and is responsible for the strength, resilience, and structural integrity of our skin. When collagen production is decreased, the skin is less able to rebound from the tiny movements of our facial muscles as we make expressions throughout the days. This results in lines developing around the eyes, mouth, and forehead, and the eventual drooping and sagging of skin.
Protecting the skin with a broad spectrum sunscreen is essential to prevent collagen breakdown and sun spots. Wearing a broad-brimmed hat can add to your protection. Seek the shade as often as possible and wear loose clothing outdoors that allows air flow, but protects the skin from the sun.
Even if you’ve had prior exposures to the sun or tanning beds, you can reverse some of the damage by using a good anti-wrinkle cream with ingredients like antioxidants to combat free radicals, and retinol to boost collagen production.
A more surprising way to lessen the development of wrinkles is to sleep in the supine—or back-lying position. In this position, gravity will not pull the facial skin forward. Instead, it pulls it up and back. Interestingly, studies show that those who habitually sleep on their backs have less wrinkles than those who sleep on their stomachs or sides. Side-sleeping especially contributes to wrinkles by distorting the facial skin as it rests against the pillow. This position also causes wrinkles on the décolletage area.
Ease Up on Expressions
This may be difficult to do, but skincare experts tell us that most of the lines that develop on our faces are the result of repeated facial expressions. Wearing sunglasses to avoid squinting can help to prevent lines around the eyes. Frequent frowning, and pursing of the lips can also result in the development of creases and wrinkles. Eyebrow lifting can cause lines to develop on the forehead, and smiling causes crow’s feet.
Because no one should stop smiling, the best way to combat crow’s feet—the lines that radiate outward from the outer corners of the eyes toward the temples—is to treat this fragile area at night with a good eye cream to help replenish moisture and treat fine lines.
Toss out the Tobacco and Unload the Alcohol
Studies show that tobacco smoke damages essential collagen and elastin in the skin, resulting in increased wrinkles and sagging. The act itself of drawing in cigarette smoke eventually results in lines around the lips. The nicotine in tobacco products inhibits circulation by causing blood vessels to constrict. This reduces blood flow to the skin, robbing it of the oxygen it needs for proper cell regeneration. The skin is also robbed of essential skin-nourishing nutrients like vitamin A due to decreased circulation in smokers.
Overuse of alcohol also results in premature aging. Alcohol is highly dehydrating, resulting in dry skin which is more prone to developing lines and wrinkles. It also causes inflammation, which is why you might turn red or flushed while you drink. If this alcohol-induced inflammation is frequent and prolonged, it inhibits collagen production and cell regeneration in the skin, resulting in premature aging.
Welcome the Water
Maintaining proper hydration is critical for preventing wrinkles and premature aging. Water is necessary for the proper functioning of every organ in the body, including its largest organ—the skin. It’s important to realize that fine lines, creases, and wrinkles can be prevented and lessened if the skin remains properly hydrated.
Many people assume that the moisturizers they put on their skin can cure dry, dehydrated skin, but only water has the ability to hydrate. The main purpose of a moisturizer is to promote a stronger barrier to seal hydration into the skin and keep it from evaporating from the skin’s surface. The skin has to contain adequate hydration in order for a moisturizer to be effective. A typical adult requires eight 8-oz glasses of water per day to be properly hydrated.
Value of Vitamins
Eating a healthy, vitamin-rich diet is essential for preventing or minimizing wrinkling. A diet rich in skin-nourishing vitamins and antioxidants can help to prevent wrinkles before they start. Foods that contain anti-inflammatory properties can optimize collagen and elastin production to maintain skin’s structural integrity.
Some examples of foods containing high levels of antioxidants are green tea, blueberries, citrus fruits, red bell peppers, papaya, spinach, and many more.
Some examples of anti-inflammatory rich foods are nuts, avocados, pomegranates, broccoli, and sweet potatoes.
While nothing can completely stop or reverse intrinsic aging, the process can be significantly slowed down by eliminating the environmental factors that tend to speed up the process of collagen depletion.