Dark spots, wrinkles, frown lines… aging is so much fun! All kidding aside, these are all normal signs of aging. As time passes, the epidermis, or the top layer of the skin, becomes thinner. The skin also begins to lose some of its elasticity. The result? Fine lines, wrinkles, and sagging skin.
As if that wasn’t enough, the number of pigment-containing cells in the skin also begins to decline. Bring on the dark spots. All of these things are inevitable as we age, but what if you’re noticing them much sooner than you expected? Then it becomes premature aging and that’s a major downer.
The Causes of Premature Aging
There are two types of aging. The first one is the natural aging process, known as intrinsic aging. Over time, you’ll begin to notice that your skin is drier, thinner, and more prone to fine lines than it used to be. Genetics plays a major part in when the signs of intrinsic aging begin to show up.
Then, there’s premature aging or extrinsic aging. This type of aging is often due to lifestyle and environmental factors that wreak havoc on the health of the skin’s cells and structure.
Many of these factors are within your control:
You may love that bronzed goddess look, but your skin is going to pay a steep price for it. Sun damage is the leading cause of premature aging in both men and women. Sun exposure leads to a reduction in skin elasticity, making it more prone to fine lines, wrinkles, and sagging. And let’s not forget about the increased risk of skin cancer, too.
There are so many reasons to quit smoking. Premature aging is just one of many. It turns out that tobacco use reduces the production of collagen. It also damages collagen and elastin fibers in the skin, which are essential for skin elasticity and firmness.
There’s a reason celebrities like Lea Michele swear by drinking lots of water. If your body is dehydrated, your skin will be too. And dehydrated skin is going to look dull, dry, and fine lines will be more obvious – no matter what else you’re doing to take care of your skin.
Stress and Lack of Sleep
Stress and lack of sleep can increase the production of cortisol in your body. Cortisol can cause elastin and collagen in the skin to break down, making it more susceptible to wrinkles. Cortisol also increases inflammation in the body, further contributing to redness and the formation of fine lines.
6 Ways to Prevent Premature Aging
The best way to prevent premature aging is to limit the behaviors that are known to accelerate the process. That means caring for the skin properly, adopting a healthier lifestyle, and actively avoiding things that contribute to cellular damage.
Follow an Anti-Aging Skin Care Routine
Preventing premature aging starts with a good anti-aging skincare routine. That means using skincare strategies and active ingredients that have been proven to slow the signs of extrinsic aging.
Here’s what to consider:
Dehydrated skin will always look older, no matter what else you do to take care of it. Existing fine lines and wrinkles will be more obvious, and your skin will be more prone to developing new fine lines. Using a high-quality moisturizer twice a day will help keep skin looking youthful, plump, and radiant.
When shopping for a moisturizer, look for one that contains peptides, which are the building blocks of collagen and elastin. They’re essential for stimulating cellular growth and collagen production, which helps keep skin looking fuller and fine lines less obvious.
Retinoids are your secret weapon against premature aging. They work by increasing the production of collagen, which plumps up the skin and reduces the visible signs of both intrinsic and extrinsic aging, including dark spots, wrinkles, and uneven texture.
If you were planning to save Botox as a last resort, you might want to rethink that strategy. Preventive Botox is becoming increasingly popular, and for good reason.
It works by relaxing the muscles that cause wrinkles, particularly on the forehead and around the eyes. This stops you from making the repetitive expressions that lead to fine lines and creases on the face, essentially preventing wrinkles from ever forming.
Peachy’s Botox services in Brooklyn, NY recommends having your first treatment as soon as you begin to see the first signs of fine lines starting in late 20s to early 30s, to get the full effects of preventive Botox.
Even on cloudy days, harmful UV rays can do major damage to your skin. Even if you don’t notice a visible tan or burn, the sun could be damaging your skin at the cellular level, which may not be visible on the surface for years.
One of the most important steps you can take to prevent premature aging is to wear sunscreen on all exposed skin whenever you’re outside. Be sure to choose a broad-spectrum formula that has a minimum SPF of 30 or higher.
Reapply the sunscreen as directed by the manufacturer and apply it liberally about an hour before you go out into the sun. Always reapply after swimming or sweating, even if you’re wearing a water-resistant formula.
Of course, you’ll want to ensure that your face is protected, but don’t forget about your neck, decollate, hands, and arms. These areas are also prone to the signs of premature aging.
Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant that protects the skin against UV and free radical damage. It also helps to brighten the skin, increase firmness, boost collagen production, and soften the look of wrinkles.
Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHAs)
AHAs, like glycolic acid and lactic acid, promote cellular turnover to reveal younger-looking skin. They can help restore moisture to aging skin and smooth out uneven skin texture.
Wear a Hat and Sunglasses
Not only will a hat and sunglasses protect the delicate skin around your eyes from the sun, but they will also keep you from squinting due to the bright sunlight. Squinting contributes to fine lines and wrinkles around the eyes, especially the dreaded crow’s feet.
At this point, it should go without saying, but if you’re a smoker, it’s time to quit. No matter what else you do to take care of your skin, continuing to smoke will accelerate aging, especially the formation of fine lines, wrinkles, and creases around the mouth. Smoking also restricts blood flow, which means your skin isn’t getting the nutrients it needs to stay healthy and youthful.
Staying hydrated is essential for keeping your skin looking plump, radiant, and youthful. Be sure to drink water throughout the day and increase your intake when you’re sweating or working hard.
Keep in mind that enjoying a glass of wine with dinner is fine but overdoing it with the alcohol contributes to dehydration. It also causes your blood vessels to dilate, causing redness and possibly even rosacea.
Eat a Healthy Diet
Although science hasn’t quite pinned down exactly how diet affects skin aging, we do know that proper nutrition can help to counter cellular damage that leads to premature aging. The effects of oxidative stress and free radicals can also be reduced by a diet that’s rich in antioxidants, which are most abundant in fresh fruits and vegetables.
And Finally… Avoid Stress and Get Plenty of Rest
While we can’t always avoid the things that cause us stress, there are steps we can take to manage it. Sleep and exercise are essential but don’t overlook the value of stress-reducing activities like creative hobbies, yoga, and spending time in nature.