Waging War on Wrinkles
There are so many things to love about celebrating another year on the calendar. As we age, we gently fine tune ourselves, gain wisdom and learn to appreciate our life experiences. If there is one thing about aging that makes many of us cringe and attempt to stop the hands of time, however, it is the growing presence of wrinkles. Personally, I feel that some wrinkles aren’t all that bad. I love soft, wrinkly newborn skin, and wrinkles are adorable on pugs. However, when I look in the mirror and see those first fine lines making their way to the surface, it doesn’t make me feel warm and fuzzy to say the least.
The cold, hard truth is that wrinkles are a natural consequence of the normal aging process. You can’t escape from them entirely, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t natural steps that you can take to keep them at bay. You can not only reduce the appearance of the character lines you already have, but also prevent, and slow down, the formation of new fine lines and wrinkles. The good news is that healthy, youthful skin is more about common sense and living a healthy life than it is about complicated routines and super-expensive creams. Here are some of my best tips for rejuvenating, repairing and pampering your skin to minimize wrinkles.
Taking Care of the Outside
Your skin is your largest organ, and it is also the most exposed. It takes a daily beating from all the environmental stress and toxins that you encounter, not to mention the fact that it serves as your main protector against pathogens and injury. You simply can’t have healthy skin without taking care of it, and that involves a simple but consistent skin care routine that should include the following components.
Sunscreen: Who doesn’t love a little sunshine? Nothing beats the feeling of warm sunlight kissing your cheeks. Sunlight lifts our moods and is essential in helping us synthesize vitamin D. But, just like everything else, too much of a good thing can quickly turn into a bad thing. Unprotected sun exposure is one of the leading causes of wrinkles and premature aging. A mistake that many of us make is underestimating the power of ultraviolet rays. Your skin can become damaged from UV rays even on overcast days, or while you are driving in the car. You might also not think about the sun exposure you get sitting next to a window at home or at work. Therefore, it is important to always wear sunscreen. Apply an SPF30 sunscreen to your face daily, but don’t forget about the rest of your body that might be exposed to the sun such as your hands, arms and legs. If you have short hair, or tend to wear your hair up, don’t neglect applying sunscreen to the back of your neck and shoulders as well.
Antioxidant Skincare: Oxidative stress, caused by an overload of free radicals, is a primary cause of many signs of aging including wrinkles and dry, thinning skin that has lost its elasticity. Your skin relies on a matrix of collagen for support, and free radicals love to break it down. Avoiding free radicals is impossible. No matter how clean of a lifestyle you live, you can’t avoid all the environmental toxins that produce them. What you can do is introduce antioxidants into your skin care routine to help neutralize free radicals and prevent damage. Search for cleansers, serums and moisturizers that use natural, gentle ingredients, but that also include antioxidant ingredients such as vitamin C, vitamin E, green tea and astaxanthin.
Retinol: If you are at a stage in your life where fine lines and wrinkles are becoming more of a concern, chances are you have heard about retinol. It is one of the most powerful anti-aging ingredients today. Retinol builds up collagen and increase elastin production, which will help fight wrinkles and build healthier, more youthful looking skin. Another beautiful thing about retinol that it also helps reduce pore size and calm acne flare ups, making it a great choice for combination skin types. While available by prescription, you can also find great natural moisturizers such as our Super Youth Retinol Moisturizer, and serums, like our Pro-Retaxinol Retinol Serum, with efficacious concentrations of retinol.
There are two things to keep in mind when using retinols. First, many people experience a period of adjustment to the retinol. This can last anywhere from a couple of days up to two weeks. You might notice some redness and drying, but it should be fairly mild and should resolve within two weeks. If you have sensitive skin, it’s a good idea to start by using your retinol product one to two times per week and slowly build up to daily usage. Secondly, retinol makes your skin more sensitive to sunlight, so while it is always important to use a sunscreen, it is even more important to remain committed to sunscreen use while using retinol products. We always recommend using a zinc oxide-based SPF30 formulation.
Alpha Hydroxy Acids: Exfoliation using alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) such as glycolic acid can be a powerful weapon in your anti-wrinkle arsenal. These agents promote skin cell turnover and allow younger-looking, healthier skin to come to the surface. A good way to include an alpha hydroxy acid in your daily routine with a serum such as our Vitamin C + AHA Facial Serum. For a monthly boost, consider a glycolic acid peel like our 30% Glycolic Acid Peel. Incorporating AHAs in your skincare regimen will reduce the appearance of the wrinkles you might already have and help your skin look smooth and radiant. As with retinol, it is vital to be consistent and vigilant about wearing sunscreen.
Taking Care of the Inside
How you skin looks and feels on the outside is greatly influenced by what is going on inside your body. Fighting wrinkles isn’t just about what you put on your skin, but also the steps you take to nourish it from the inside out.
Drink Plenty of Water: You know that staying hydrated is important for staying healthy. Your skin depends just as much as the rest of your body on the water you drink daily. Your skin is made up of over sixty percent water. Without water, your skin simply cannot perform the functions necessary to remain healthy. Being dehydrated can also cause your skin to appear sallow and sunken, accentuating fine lines and wrinkles. The gold standard is eight to ten 8 ounce glasses a day, however you should always adjust your water intake to accommodate for things like physical activity and caffeine consumption.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids: It is important to get good quality fats, in the form of Omega 3 Fatty acids. Whether you get them from the foods you eat or through supplements, Omega 3 fatty acids, including Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA), Alpha-linolenic Acid (ALA) and Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA) all work to keep your skin young looking by supporting a healthy inflammatory response. Inflammation can break down the key support structures of your skin and cause an acceleration of the natural aging process.
Fuel Up on Antioxidants: Using cleansers, serums and moisturizers that have been boosted with antioxidants was mentioned above as an important way fight wrinkles and to stave off the hands of time. It is just as important to fuel your body on the inside with a diet that is high in antioxidant-rich foods. Antioxidants fight off the free radicals that roam around, causing damage and breaking down cells, including your skin cells. Eating plenty of foods that rank high on the ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) scale is a sure way to keep your body healthy and your skin radiant and youthful looking. What are some of the highest ranked antioxidant foods? Goji berries, blueberries, dark chocolate, pecans and artichokes are all delicious choices that top the list. Spices such as ground clove, oregano, rosemary, thyme and parsley are also excellent ways of boosting the antioxidant content of your favorite dishes.
Enjoy a Mocha: I am hard pressed to think of two things that are better suited for each other than coffee and chocolate. It turns out that both coffee and high quality dark chocolate are also good for keeping wrinkles at bay. Both ingredients can protect your skin from sun damage, encourage healthy cell renewal and improve circulation. So, why not double up and enjoy them together for a drink that rejuvenates your skin and makes your spirit happy at the same time. Make it even better with unsweetened almond or coconut milk.
Adopt Healthy Habits
Your skin is susceptible to damage caused by everyday lifestyle habits. The small things that you might not think much of can add up over time and have a significant effect on the overall health and appearance of your skin. If you are looking for ways to live a lifestyle that is supportive of all your other anti-aging efforts, consider the following suggestions.
Get Enough Sleep: Your body uses the time that you are asleep to rebuild and repair. One of the things that happen while you are asleep is the production of human growth hormone (HGH). HGH promotes cell growth and reproduction. When you aren’t getting enough sleep, your body produces excess of a stress hormone called cortisol, which causes inflammation, slows cell growth and inhibits cellular repair. It is easy to see why healthy sleep patterns can prevent signs of aging such as wrinkles while not enough sleep can make you appear older than you are. Aim to get between seven to nine hours of sleep each night.
Sleep on Your Back: While getting enough sleep is vital for keeping premature aging at bay, how you sleep can also affect how your skin ages. Sleeping with your face pressed against your pillow or all pushed up on your arm can damage the support structure of your skin, making it more susceptible to the formation of deep wrinkles. Try sleeping in a position that limits contact between your face and other surfaces.
Stop Smoking: Cigarette smoke, both first- and second hand, is terrible for your health – and your appearance. While it might take years to feel the effects of habitual smoking, the damage to your skin can appear long before you might expect it to. It has been proven that smoking cigarettes damages the skin and promotes the formation of deep wrinkles along with discoloration and excessive dryness. Quitting is difficult, but it is a tremendous step in the right direction to protecting your health and maintaining your youthful appearance.
Growing older is a beautiful process and while we should embrace it, we can also take steps to look our best for as long as possible. We do have some degree of control over how we live and how we age. I hope that you try some of these tips for preventing and reducing wrinkles and other signs of aging. Not only will your skin look more youthful and beautiful, but you will be improving its overall health as well.