The fountain of youth. It’s something that many of us think about when we look in the mirror and start to notice those first few lines creeping up slowly, catching us off guard. Most of us want to stall those first signs of aging as long as possible but have little idea of how to keep them at bay. In desperation, we might even reach for the latest miracle cure, only to end up disappointed. So, what is the secret to the fountain of youth?
The first answer is to accept that maturing is a natural process and that it’s possible to do it beautifully. The second answer is to stop looking for the magic cure and start paying more attention to the everyday ways that you can be taking better care of your skin and preventing premature aging from occurring. The path to preventing wrinkles really is all in the small details. If you want to get a head start on maintaining your beautiful skin for years to come, start with these youthful skin care tips.
Be Vigilant About Sunscreen
If you’re old enough for wrinkle prevention to even be a blip on your radar, then chances are you’ve heard this advice countless times, but of all the wrinkle prevention tips, it’s this one that packs the most power: use your sunscreen, and don’t be skimpy about it.
Damage from the sun is one of the primary causes of premature aging, but there’s no point in trying to hide from sun completely. In small doses, sunlight can be great, but without adequate protection, you’re being exposed to far too much of it - even in your normal day to day activities. For example, the windshields of most vehicles are made with UV protective glass, but side windows generally are not. This means that every minute of your daily commute you’re also soaking up age accelerating UV rays.
Most of us are already mindful of applying sunscreen when we’re at the beach or know that we’ll be spending time outdoors but fall short when it comes to day to day use. It’s the tiny bits of cumulative exposure that creep up and slowly cause premature aging, so if you haven’t already, now is the time to get serious about sunscreen.
But, before you slather on the good stuff, make sure to take a look at your label. Some common ingredients in sunscreen, like octinoxate and oxybenzone have been receiving a lot of bad press for causing more harm than good. It’s best to avoid these ingredients and then head over to the EWG’s website to check out the integrity of your favorite sunscreen brand.
Kick Bad Habits to the Curb
You probably don’t need or want the lecture, but here it goes anyway. All those bad lifestyle habits, like smoking and overindulging in alcohol aren’t only bad for your health, they’re also bad for your skin. One puff of tobacco smoke is loaded with almost 4,000 chemicals that make their way through your body. These nasty toxins work to destroy collagen and elastin – the skin’s support structures that keep it smooth and supple. Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter if you’re the one who lit up or not since exposure to secondhand smoke is also a known culprit of premature aging.
Alcohol can have an equally damaging effect. While an occasional drink isn’t likely to do much damage, overconsuming produces a host of skin woes. Alcohol dehydrates you, disrupts sleep, causes bloating and puffiness and eventually works to rob your skin of its youthful glow.
Let’s talk for a minute about what happens when your head finally hits the pillow after a long day. On a physiological level, your body requires a certain amount of rest and recovery for peak performance. When you sleep, your body is hard at work repairing cells and building new ones. Part of this process is the production of human growth hormones which facilitate cellular reproduction.
Take a good look in the mirror when you wake up. After a full, restful night of sleep your complexion is likely radiant and refreshed. But, a glimpse at your reflection after a less than restful night reveal a complexion that’s shallow and lifeless. While it might be easy to mitigate the effects of a lost night of sleep here or there, chronic sleep issues can accelerate your skin’s aging process due to lack of restorative cellular activity.
Plus, it isn’t just the amount and quality of sleep you get on a nightly basis, it’s also the position that you sleep in that can either prevent or cause premature wrinkling. You might love curling up and burying your face into the pillow but stop and think about how much time you spend in that position. We spend about a third of our lives sleeping, and that’s a significant amount of time to be squishing and putting pressure on your face and neck.
There are a few things you can do to save your face while sleeping. For example, a silk or satin pillow case is smoother and less likely to bunch up and press into your skin while sleeping. Oils and dirt from your hair and hands can also put stress on your skin while you sleep, so consider using a cloth headband or hair tie to hold your hair off your face and avoid using creams or scented lotions on your hands if you have a habit of putting them up to your face while sleeping.
Align Your Skin Care with Your Current Needs
It isn’t always easy to find a great skin care product that you instantly fall in love with. So, it makes sense that when you do come across such a gem that you’re slow to let it go. The problem is that the product that may have seemed like a magical cure just a few years ago might be doing more damage than good for your skin now.
As we mature, our skin changes. These changes happen much more quickly than any of us are really expecting them to. Just five years can transition someone from their acne prone teens to the clear, radiant skin phase of their twenties. Likewise, by the time someone reaches their early thirties, there’s a good chance that skin care is a whole other ballgame than it was in their mid to late twenties. These changes continue to creep up on us, so it’s a good idea to assess your skin care needs and goals every few years and adapt your routine as necessary to keep your skin healthy and prevent or delay the onset of those first early wrinkles.
Consider Retinol Now Rather Than Later
Retinol has been on the skin care scene for a while now and is well known as a powerful anti-aging ingredient. While retinol’s reputation is stellar, it’s also caused some people to think that it isn’t worth considering in your twenties or thirties. The truth is, the sooner you get started with retinol products, the better.
What many people don’t realize is that retinol is a double edged sword against skin damage. Not only does it help prevent wrinkles and improve the appearance of the ones that have already appeared, but it’s also an effective treatment for acne. The right retinol product can keep your skin clear during the break out phases of your life and proactively prevent premature aging in the process. It’s a win-win solution to skin care no matter what your age or skin type.
One word of caution, though. Retinol can cause some minor irritation in some people and it does induce a greater sensitivity to sunlight. This makes religious use of a high quality sunscreen even more important if you’re using any type of retinol product.
Avoid Tech Neck
Yes, this has become a real thing. If you haven’t heard the term before, it’s used to describe the premature signs of aging that occur on the neck area as a result of the 45°angle that’s become that standard position when someone is engrossed in scrolling through their phone.
Much like how sleeping position can prematurely age your face, the constant pressure of being bent over in the neck area can prematurely age neck skin. To make matters worse, there’s been quite a bit of discussion lately about the effects of the blue light that’s emitted from tech devices on our skin, with some speculation that it prematurely breaks down the skin’s support structures.
The solution is to be mindful of not only how much time you’re spending with tech devices in front of your face, but also your posture and position when using them. Then, take the time to take extra good care of the delicate neck area as part of your regular skin care routine.
Keeping hydrated is one of the most important things you can do for your body and your skin. Your body requires water for pretty much every single biological process, which is why you can’t live very long without it. Without adequate hydration, your body needs to decide where it’s going to use its resources and one of the first places it’s going to steal from is your skin.
If you’re body is making a choice between keeping your skin healthy or keeping your heart pumping, of course it’s going to not care if you’re worried about premature aging. This means that it’s entirely up to you to make sure you take in enough water on a daily basis to support cellular turnover and collagen production. If you want to know exactly how much water you should be consuming every day, there are a few calculators online that consider factors like your weight and activity level, but as a general guideline, the standard 8-10 glasses a day is a good place to start.
See a Professional
Many of us make a point of going in for our annual health exams and teeth cleanings, but seldom make a trip to the dermatologist unless there’s a specific problem that needs to be addressed. Now is the time, no matter what your age, to find a dermatologist you like and develop a relationship with them.
This is important for a couple reasons. The first is that they are professionals in skin care and can guide you in the right direction and make sure you’re invested in the right skin care routine for your current needs.
Secondly, an annual skin exam is one of the most effective ways of catching skin cancer at it’s early stages when it’s most treatable.
The Beautiful Years Ahead
There’s grace and beauty in the aging process, but that doesn’t mean that you want to welcome each new wrinkle with open arms. Now is the time to start taking the small steps that will help to delay wrinkling and keep your skin radiantly youthful looking as the years creep by. As a bonus, everything you do to take care of your skin is also an investment in your overall health. You have some beautiful years ahead of you, so start taking care of your skin now and make the most every moment.