Medically reviewed by Kristin Hall, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 12/31/2020
No one is excited when they wake up in their late twenties and spot crows feet for the first time. But it happens. One day, you’re out in the world being young and full of life and then you notice the fine lines and wrinkles that have crept up on you.
There’s no way to stop skin aging entirely — as long as you’re alive you’ll continue getting older. But the biggest impact you can have in your fight to look young: right in the middle of your face.
Your face is the first thing people see when they look at you. You can hide smile lines under facial hair, and beards are hot right now, but all the youthful hairstyles and fashions can’t undo what father time is doing to the surface of your skin.
The most sure-fire way to look younger? Taking care of your skin and the rest of your body to prevent premature aging. There are several ways to do this. Here are the most important:
Exposure to the sun’s damaging rays may be responsible for up to 80 percent of the visible signs of aging, according to researchers.
Dark spots, wrinkles, dry skin and increased cancer risk — none of these are doing you any favors. UV rays damage your DNA and cause inflammation, changes to your immune system and impaired wound healing.
Fortunately, this is pretty simple to prevent. Wear sunscreen, everyday.
The American Academy of Dermatology recommends a broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 30 and is water resistant.
Stress can do a number on your health, and that includes your skin health. Both short and long-term stress can lead to DNA damage and skin aging, according to scientific literature.
Exactly how remains somewhat of a mystery, but certain hormones associated with stress (epinephrine and cortisol, for instance) likely play a role.
Shortened telomeres, or compound structures at the end of chromosomes, are also likely responsible.
Also, you know that face you make when you’re stressed out? That furrow in your brow isn’t doing you any favors.
The role of nutrition in skin aging has led to numerous nutritional supplements being touted as anti-aging miracles, but the research rarely backs these claims.
Instead, we do know that the antioxidants in healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables may have protective qualities that discourage premature aging.
Instead of taking pills with these compounds in them, however, eating more of these healthy foods is likely the safest and most effective approach to youthful skin through balanced nutrition.
Not only does sweat flush out your pores, exercise may help your cells fight aging. Regular exercise encourages circulation and immunity — two important factors in skin health.
You don’t only look tired when you’re not sleeping well; you look old. And getting a good night sleep consistently is linked to younger looking skin.
Good sleepers recover from UV exposure more effectively, rate their appearance as more youthful and experience better skin barrier recovery overnight, according to research.
If you suffer from dry skin, upping your water intake could prove a game-changer.
And if you’re not a big water drinker, don’t assume you get enough from your regular food and beverage intake: you likely don’t.
If you hope to fight the signs of aging, stopping smoking is an excellent attack strategy — as if you needed another reason.
Numerous twin studies have revealed dramatic differences between identical siblings who smoke and those who don’t. Smoking leads to wrinkles and dull complexion, not to mention skin cancer and that horrible smell.
Daily skin care, including washing and applying skin care products, may improve the health of your skin’s protective barrier and increase smoothness, elasticity, skin regeneration and appearance.
But this doesn’t mean you need to go broke in search of the fountain of youth in a small glass bottle. Here are some of the most worthwhile skin care ingredients and products to consider:
Hydrate from the inside by drinking enough water, but include a good moisturizer in your skin care routine to combat skin dryness. A facial lotion that includes sunscreen, of course.
The American Academy of Dermatology says sunscreen and moisturizer are the “two most effective anti-aging products you can buy.”
By trapping water in your skin, moisturizers plump up your complexion and make it look younger.
Skin care products often include antioxidants, and Vitamin C has been shown to have anti-aging effects by potentially increasing collagen production.
Likewise, vitamin B3, or niacinamide, may improve skin elasticity and cell regeneration.
Vitamin A derivatives, most often seen in skin care products as retinol or retinoids, are cell regulators with additional antioxidant benefits.
Widely popular, retinoids have a solid scientific track record in anti-aging benefits including collagen metabolism, reduced wrinkling, increased elasticity and reduced pigmentation, all signs of skin aging.
When you’re living that anti-aging lifestyle and using skincare products designed to reduce the signs of aging, and you still can’t get used to the inevitable mileage shown on your face, there are cosmetic procedures available.
These are more expensive, more invasive and generally bigger risks than the above options, so weigh them carefully. Here are a few of the age reversing options on the market:
Peels remove layers of skin to reveal new, tighter skin beneath. They may use hydroxy acids or trichloroacetic acid to peel back superficial or deeper layers of the epidermis. Potential side effects include skin irritation, hyperpigmentation and post-operative infections.
Lasers or light devices can also be used to reveal new skin.
Essentially, these procedures are a “controlled form of skin wounding” where the healed skin is more youthful in appearance than it was before the wounding.
You can fill those deep creases with hyaluronic acid, amino acids, nutrients, fat, collagen, fibroblasts and other stuff in various cosmetic fillers.
These solutions aren’t permanent, but may last a few years.
Be warned, however, researchers indicate people who use fillers often go on to use subsequent cosmetic interventions, so it could be a gateway procedure.
Botox® is a brand name of botulinum toxin, an injectable that freezes facial muscles to stop them from wrinkling. The effects generally last three to six months.
However, it’s worth noting that Botox has no actual effect on skin texture, and won’t stop the skin aging process. At best, it can work to reduce and slow down the physical effects of aging, but only when injected regularly.
We’re all aging, every day we’re here. But no one wants to look older than they are and few people welcome the lines and wrinkles that accompany midlife and old age.
When it comes to reducing the signs of aging, prevention is the best strategy. Taking care of your body by drinking plenty of water, eating healthy and getting plenty of rest can go a long way, even when it comes to your skin.
But when the wrinkles come despite your healthiest efforts — and they will eventually — there are options that can help turn back the hands of time, or at least minimize their destruction.
So pluck your ear hair and put your teeth in, grandpa. You’ve got daily work to do in maintaining that youthful glow.
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