Aging is a natural process and all living creatures must go through it. However, it’s no secret that aging causes certain changes that most of us would like to avoid, such as wrinkles and age spots in our skin. There’s nothing wrong with aging, but it’s also natural to want to look and feel our best, regardless of age.
Preventing excessive aging is much easier than reversing it, which is why most anti-aging secrets are closely related to developing healthy habits from an early age. But even if you’re already starting to see signs of aging, don’t despair! There are still many things you can do.
The first thing we need to do to learn how to prevent premature aging is to understand how aging works and how it happens. Understanding the causes of aging can make it much easier to ensure that you’re doing what’s best for your skin and for the rest of your body. So, before we get into anti-aging secrets, let’s take a look at what really happens during the aging process.
Understanding Aging: What Happens As We Get Older?
Our skin might seem like a simple structure, but in reality, it’s made up of many different cells, substances, and components, which play a vital role in maintaining a balance in your skin that leads to a youthful appearance. If that balance is lost, your skin becomes affected and starts to age more rapidly.
Components such as collagen, elastin, and glycosaminoglycans or GAGs all play vital roles in maintaining your skin’s structure and elasticity. Collagen helps keep your skin firm, while elastin – as its name suggests – makes skin more elastic, and GAGs maintain hydration.
There are certain causes of aging that we can’t prevent nor stop, which is what dermatologists call intrinsic aging. Intrinsic aging is, quite simply, the natural aging process that we all go through, regardless of habits, skincare, environment, or other outside factors.
Intrinsic aging occurs as a result of our skin’s diminished ability to repair itself and produce substances such as the collagen, elastin, and GAGs that we mentioned earlier. Collagen production slows down much earlier than you might think; in fact, your skin produces 1% less collagen each year after the age of 20 years old.
As a result, skin becomes dehydrated and less flexible, and wrinkles begin to appear. Our sweat and oil glands, which help keep skin protected and hydrated, also decrease their function as we age.
The good news is that while we can’t avoid intrinsic aging, it’s not the factor that causes the worst damage to our skin. Intrinsic aging actually only causes light to mild damage to your skin.
Extrinsic aging, on the other hand, can cause much more damage to your skin. Extrinsic aging is caused by outside factors such as sun exposure, tobacco, unhealthy habits, pollution, and poor skin care. This type of aging leads to an accelerated loss of collagen, elastin, and GAGs; it also makes your skin more prone to conditions such as precancerous lesions and skin cancer.
Extrinsic aging is, without a doubt, the type of aging that causes more damage to your skin. Fortunately, we can prevent or control many of the factors that lead to extrinsic aging.
Healthy Habits To Reduce The Effects Of Aging
You’ll be relieved to hear that most of the habits that you need to develop to maintain healthy skin are actually very simple and common. What’s even more important: many of these habits won’t just help your skin, but they’re also important to overall health and wellbeing.
These are some of the most important healthy habits that can slow down extrinsic aging:
Protect your skin from the sun every day
This is the most basic skincare method, but you’d be surprised to learn that many people skip it entirely. The sun’s ultraviolet or UV rays cause more than 90% of the visible damage to your skin, which accumulates over time.
Make sure to apply sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher every day, even if you’re staying indoors. If you’re going to be exposed to the sun, try to shield your skin by wearing long sleeves, staying in the shade, and limiting the amount of time that you spend directly in the sun.
Remember that UV rays can cause much more than just aging. Excessive sun exposure can lead to rough patches of skin, skin discoloration, and skin cancer. Many people believe that they don’t have to use sunscreen if they have darker skin, which isn’t true. All types of skin can be negatively affected by the sun.
Smoking isn’t just bad for your lungs. The toxins in tobacco and cigarettes can damage the collagen and elastin in your skin. Smoking can lead to premature skin aging, wrinkles, poor blood flow, impaired healing, and skin discoloration.
Drinking plenty of water each day can help your skin look plump and fresh. Hydration improves your blood flow, which is responsible for transporting nutrients and oxygen to the cells in your body – including your skin.
Your skin is made up of approximately 30% water. When you’re dehydrated, that water content decreases and makes your skin look dull, wrinkly, and unhealthy. To avoid this, make sure you’re drinking at least 8 glasses of water each day.
Reduce your alcohol intake
The harmful effects of alcohol are well known. But what you might not know is that drinking alcohol excessively can actually cause premature aging in many parts of your body.
Alcohol can cause wrinkles, visible veins, and dry skin. It can also aggravate other skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, dark circles under your eyes, acne, and rosacea. It can also disrupt your sleep and cause weight gain.
You don’t have to cut alcohol entirely. Instead, experts recommend sticking to 1 drink per day for women and 2 drinks a day for men.
Eat a healthy, balanced diet
Scientific research has shown that individuals with high blood sugar levels are perceive as being older than their healthier peers. Everyone’s skin reacts differently to different foods, but overall, a healthy diets full of nutrients and antioxidants will make your skin look healthier.
Include plenty of fruits, vegetables, grains, and healthy fats in your diet to improve not only your skin, but also your overall health.
Sun tanning isn’t the only tanning practice that can harm your skin and lead to premature aging. Indoor tanning equipment, such as tanning beds, also produce UV rays that can have a negative impact on your skin.
If you really want to get a tan, try a self-tanning lotion. These products can give you a light tan over time without harming your skin.
Believe it or not, exercising has been found to reverse skin damage to a certain degree. Exercise increases blood flow and boosts your immune system, which can lead to healthier and more youthful skin.
You don’t need to hit the gym every day to see improvements. Performing moderate exercise at least 3 times a week is enough to prevent or improve premature skin aging. Additionally, exercise can improve acne and reduce stress levels.
Maintain a skincare routine
Don’t wait until your senior years to establish a skincare routine that works for you. It’s very important to cleanse your skin when you wake up and before you go to bed each night.
In addition to cleansing your skin, products such as moisturizers, toners, serums, and face masks can help you take care of your skin. Look for products that are aimed towards your particular skin type, whether that is oily, dry, sensitive, or combination skin.
The benefits of a skincare routine might not be immediately obvious. But if you follow your routine consistently, you will experience better skin in the present and prevent premature aging in the future.
Avoid repetitive facial expressions
Whenever you form an expression with your face, you are contracting certain muscles and areas of your skin. If you constantly repeat the same facial expression, over time, the skin in that area can develop lines and wrinkles.
One of the most common – and unconscious – examples of this is when you squint your eyes to protect them from the sun. Wear sunglasses regularly to protect the delicate skin around your eyes.
Get enough sleep every night
Our daily routines seem to become busier each day, which can make it difficult to get enough sleep. But you should keep in mind that sleep deprivation can cause premature aging, fine lines, wrinkles, and unevenness.
Sleeping increases collagen production, blood flow, reduces inflammation and puffiness, and makes you unconsciously change your facial expression to look happier. Insufficient sleep, on the other hand, increases stress levels, makes your skin look dull and dry, and it can even make you lose hair.
The Best Anti-Aging Skincare Ingredients
Now you know that developing healthy habits is a must if you want to prevent aging and achieve healthy skin. But in addition to a healthier lifestyle, certain skincare products can give your skincare routine a powerful boost.
These are some of the most beneficial skincare ingredients available:
Many moisturizers, lotions, and serums contain this ingredient. Hyaluronic acid attracts water and increases hydration inside your skin. It also improves skin elasticity, tissue healing, and cell metabolism and regeneration.
Hyaluronic acid works by pulling water from the deeper layers of your skin to the outer layers. It can also pull moisture from the air and keep it in your skin. As a result, your skin will look plumper and fine lines will be less evident. It has a light consistency that won’t feel oily on your skin.
Oral hyaluronic acid is used to treat many other health conditions, such as osteoarthritis, acid reflux, dry eye, bone density loss, and painful bladder syndrome, among others. If you’re taking oral hyaluronic acid for any of these conditions, you’ll also reap its skin benefits.
Many plants are rich in antioxidants. These nutrients can neutralize free radicals, which are naturally produced by your body and can harm the DNA inside your cells and impair your body’s repair processes. Over time, free radicals lead to wrinkles, aging, and dry or dull skin.
Some antioxidant-rich skincare ingredients include:
- Acai berry oil
- Green tea extract
- Vitamin E
- Grape seed
- Coenzyme Q10 or CoQ10
Although powerful retinoic acid is available as an oral treatment and requires a prescription from a doctor, milder retinoid formulas are available over-the-counter in serums and creams.
Retinoids can improve acne, firm up your skin, tighten pores, soften fine lines and wrinkles, and lighten hyperpigmentation. Retinoids boost your collagen production and they’re one of the most powerful anti-aging skincare products available.
It’s important to be consistent with retinoids since it can take up to 6 months for you to really see their benefits. In fact, retinoids can produce side effects including dryness, tightness, redness, and peeling for a few weeks while your skin gets used to them.
There are many vitamin C serums available in the market. Vitamin C can boost collagen production, minimizing wrinkles, scars, and dark spots. It can also help protect your skin from sun damage (although you should never skip sunscreen!).
Bentonite and kaolin clay can absorb impurities from your skin, lighten blemishes, and control oiliness. Natural clays actually possess a natural electrical charge which is what allows them to pull impurities from your pores.
These clays are completely natural and can be found in many face masks, either by themselves or combined with other beneficial skincare ingredients.
Final thoughts on Anti Aging Secrets
At the end of the day, having glowing and youthful skin requires healthy habits and a consistent skincare routine. It’s much easier to prevent signs of aging if you start to take care of your skin from an early age, but it’s never too late to develop habits that are beneficial to your skin.
Fortunately, most of these habits are fairly simple and achievable. In most cases, these habits are things that we should all do if we want to lead a happier and healthy life. It’s also important to keep an eye out for the ingredients in your skincare products since certain ingredients can be much more beneficial than others.
Start developing healthy habits and use healthy ingredients on your skin, and you’ll be able to prevent skin damage and premature aging in the future!
Andrea, M.D is from Valencia, Venezuela. She is passionate about sexual health and education, and public health and global health. Additionally, she enjoys researching and learning about beauty, skincare, and cosmetic innovations. She has also volunteered in several NGOs in Venezuela. In her free time, Andrea enjoys reading, drinking copious amounts of coffee, making desserts for her family, going to the beach, and spending time with her dog, Dorito.