The unfortunate truth is, none of us can escape the aging process, but premature aging is when it happens faster than it should. The cause is usually environmental and lifestyle factors. The most common signs of premature aging appear in your skin, with wrinkles, age spots, dryness or loss of skin tone. Healthy lifestyle habits can help stop and prevent further premature aging.
We (and dermatologists!) recommend following these tips to slow down the aging process of our skin.
Protect your skin from the sun every day.
Whether spending a day at the beach or running errands, sun protection is essential. You can protect your skin by seeking shade, covering up with sun-protective clothing — such as a lightweight and long-sleeved shirt, pants, a wide-brimmed hat, and sunglasses with UV protection — and using sunscreen that is broad-spectrum, SPF 30 (or higher), and water-resistant. You should apply sunscreen every day to all skin that is not covered by clothing. For more effective protection, look for clothing with an ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) label.
Opt for a self-tanner rather than get a tan.
Every time you get a tan, you prematurely age your skin. This holds true if you get a tan from the sun, a tanning bed, or other indoor tanning equipment. All emit harmful UV rays that accelerate how quickly your skin ages.
If you smoke, this is your sign to quit.
Smoking greatly speeds up how quickly skin ages. It causes wrinkles and a dull, sallow complexion.
Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet.
Studies suggest that eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables may help prevent damage that leads to premature skin aging. Consider incorporating foods rich in omega-3 fatty acid, Vitamin E and C and beta carotene into your diet. Read more about the top 12 ways to get the most out of your diet for healthy skin.
Findings from research studies also suggest that a diet containing lots of sugar or other refined carbohydrates can accelerate aging.
Drink less alcohol.
Alcohol is rough on the skin. It dehydrates the skin, and in time, damages the skin. This can make us look older. Read more here.
Studies have found that moderate exercise can improve circulation and boost the immune system. This, in turn, can give the skin a more youthful appearance.
Cut back on your sugar consumption.
Your skin is composed of collagen and elastin, which make our skin supple and soft. Sugar causes cross-linking of collagen, resulting in stiffening and loss of elasticity of our skin. The more sugar we have, the more our skin starts to suffer. This can present as signs such as the appearance of wrinkles, sagging in neck and chin, development of dark spots and slower healing of cuts, scraps, etc.
Cleanse your skin gently.
Scrubbing your skin clean can irritate your skin. Irritating your skin accelerates skin aging. Gentle washing helps to remove pollution, makeup, and other substances without irritating your skin.
Wash your face twice a day and after sweating heavily.
Perspiration, especially when wearing a hat or helmet, irritates the skin, so you want to wash your skin as soon as possible after sweating.
Apply a facial moisturizer every day.
The use of a powerful moisturiser is an essential step to hydrating your skin to keep it looking young. A facial oil, rich in plant-based lipids, free fatty acids and ceramides, is a good place to start, as this will aid in replenishing moisture at a deep cellular level, soothe any redness and irritation, and provides a dose of antioxidants essential for optimal skin health. Look for an emollient facial oil, which will repair damage to the acid mantle, and fill in the gaps to create a smooth and soft surface.
Lower your stress levels.
Try to eliminate as much stress as possible from your life. Find healthy stress management techniques (like meditation or exercise) for the stressors you can’t avoid. Read our blog for more details: 7 ways to lower your stress levels.
Improve the quality (and quantity) of your sleep.
It’s common knowledge that most of us don’t get enough sleep. What most people don’t realize is that the hours we spend asleep are actually just as beneficial, if not more so, as your skincare routine.
During the day, your skin cells are in defence mode, doing their best to protect themselves from UV exposure and free radical damage. When the sun goes down, your mind and body switch into an active regeneration mode – repairing daytime damage and boosting the production of substances that protect and renew.
In short, quality sleep is crucial to both skin health.
Here’s what happens while you snooze away:
- Melatonin, known for its antioxidant (a.k.a. anti-aging) properties, is produced at night.
- Levels of the stress hormone cortisol fall during sleep, which helps your skin repair damage done during the day.
- The body produces more collagen, which minimizes fine lines.
- More human growth hormone is released, increasing muscle mass and strengthening your skin.
Stop using skin care products that sting or burn.
When your skin burns or stings, it means your skin is irritated. Irritating your skin can make it look older.
Just remember, it is never too late to benefit.
Even people who already have signs of premature skin aging can benefit from making lifestyle changes. By protecting your skin from the sun, you give it a chance to repair some of the damage. Smokers who stop often notice that their skin looks healthier.