As you get older, wrinkles and sagging skin will be your greatest concerns. This natural aging process is inevitable. However, your lifestyle changes can make a significant impact on your skin, helping you look and stay younger. The skin reflects your well-being and age. By taking good care of your skin, you can diminish the signs of aging.
The chronological aging of the skin is known as intrinsic skin aging. It is beyond your control. But, external factors such as chronic sun exposure and poor nutrition contribute to extrinsic skin aging.1 Several protective measures can prevent these factors to a great extent.
Factors That Influence Your Skin
Before you learn the ways to maintain your skin healthy, you should know the factors that could contribute to its health. Collagen is the buzzword when everyone talks about skin health. It is the most abundant protein in your body. How important is it for your skin? It gives your skin elasticity and strength. Also, it replaces dead skin cells. As we age, the production of collagen may come down, resulting in wrinkles. Oxidative stress in skin is another factor responsible for the aging process.2 Antioxidants such as vitamin C can kill free radicals, reducing this oxidative stress. Other factors such as environmental exposure and mechanical stress also play a role in the skin health.
Tips To Maintain Young Skin
Your attempts to look younger with a glowing skin need to take care of these factors. Here are a few tips that are capable of strengthening your collagen, fighting free radicals, and preventing UV exposure.
1. Eat Healthy
Healthy eating patterns are necessary for maintaining the vibrant nature of your skin. Various research studies suggest that a well-balanced diet can prevent premature skin aging. Adopt these changes in your diet:
- Add vitamin C: Incorporate vitamin C-rich foods such as citrus fruits, green leafy vegetables, broccolis, papayas, and strawberries in your diet.3 Tomatoes, potatoes, red and green peppers, cantaloupes, brussels sprouts, and kiwifruits are other food sources.4 Remember, prolonged storage and cooking may reduce the vitamin C content in food. Try steaming or microwaving to avoid it. Vitamin C also protects the skin from oxidative stress by neutralizing the free radicals. If left unchecked, oxidative stress leads to the production of a number of mediators that contribute to inflammation and skin aging.5 It is also vital for collagen biosynthesis.6 Vitamin C converts collagen subunits into active collagen proteins. Thus, consuming vitamin C-rich foods is an important way to boost collagen production.7
- Include antioxidants: For a youthful appearing skin, add more vegetables and fruits in your diet as they are rich sources of antioxidants.8 Nuts, herbs, spices, beans, and other legumes are high in antioxidants, which can protect against skin aging. Even though antioxidant supplements are there, they do not seem to have the same effect as whole foods.9
- Less sugar: Cut down sugar from your daily diet as it promotes signs of aging.10 The ingestion of sugar promotes a process known as glycation, where sugar reacts with proteins and fibers in an abnormal way. This leads to the production of advanced glycation end products (AGEs). They damage collagen and elastin, resulting in increased stiffness and reduced elasticity.11 Cooking processes such as grilling, frying, and roasting also increase the level of AGEs in your body.
- Opt for Omega-3 fatty acids: They are known for their anti-inflammatory properties. Since aging is characterized by high level of interleukin 1 (IL-1), a proinflammatory cytokine, intake of omega-3 helps you fight it.12 Deep-water fish and some plant foods are the sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Salmon, herring, mackerel, and sardines are high in omega-3.13 Essential fatty acids are also available as supplements in the market. The dietary fish oil rich in omega-3 fatty acids can reduce the sunburn effect on the skin. It also lowers UV-induced inflammation.14
2. Use Sunscreen
Exposure to ultraviolet radiation results in premature skin aging, which is known as photoaging. If you spend more time in the sun, you may end up with deep wrinkles and dullness on your face. Limit your time in the sun. The sun’s rays are most intense between 10 a.m and 2 p.m. So, try to stay out of the sun during this peak time. The FDA recommends applying a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher to all uncovered skin.15 You should reapply it every two hours.
3. Sleep Well
This should be an important step in your anti-aging skin care plan. Your body finds time to renew itself during sleep.16 If you are a poor sleeper, the signs of intrinsic aging will be more in you.17 Also, good sleepers seem to be more physically attractive compared with poor sleepers. If you find it difficult to get enough sleep, develop these habits:18
- Maintain a regular bedtime schedule.
- Avoid heavy meals at night as they cause discomfort.
- Have your dinner at least 2 to 3 hours before bedtime.
- Steer clear of stimulants such as caffeine and nicotine.19
4. Avoid Stress
There is a complicated relation between stress and skin condition. Stress activates skin mast cells, producing stress hormones and inflammatory factors.20 This paves the way for stress-induced inflammatory events, which can exacerbate skin issues. However, the exact relation between stress and skin aging is still not explained. The stress hormone cortisol also weakens collagen, causing wrinkles.21 The stress will also have a negative impact on metabolic functions. This will slow down the renewal of skin cells and cause the skin to look dull.22 Maintain a strong social network to fight stress.23 However, it depends on whether you like to socially interact or not.
5. Try Meditation
Meditation is known as a great stress buster. But, recent research studies have suggested its much greater anti-aging potential. By reducing cognitive stress and stress arousal, some forms of meditation can elevate the positive states of mind. This will, in turn, have productive effects on the length of telomeres, which are the protective caps at the end of your DNA strands.24 Wondering how it is related to aging? The length of telomeres are indicators of cellular aging. The decreasing length of telomeres indicates the speeding up of the aging process. Thus, meditation’s positive effect on telomeres helps you stay younger. A research has proven that people with years of experience of loving-kindness meditation (LKM) practice had longer telomere length overall.25
6. Exercise Regularly
If you work out daily, it enhances the immune system, helping you maintain a healthy skin.26 It also boosts blood circulation, thereby, delivering the oxygen and nutrients to the skin and also lowers inflammation.27 The perspiration that happens during exercise helps you excrete salts and toxins through the skin.28 Moreover, it reduces stress, which in turn, keeps your mind and body healthy.
7. Quit Smoking
Want to stay young without quitting your smoking habits? Research says it is impossible. The toxins in tobacco smoke change a smoker’s face complexion to dry and dull.29 A research study, which compared smoking twins with their nonsmoking counterparts found that 5-year difference in smoking history can cause noticeable changes in facial aging.30Apart from this, limit your alcohol intake as it dehydrates the skin. Over a period of time, the damage may make your skin look older.31
8. Drink Green Tea
As we have seen, chronic exposure to solar ultraviolet radiation will have adverse effects on your skin. The polyphenols in green tea may efficiently prevent solar UV light-induced premature aging of the skin in humans.32Various studies have suggested the effectiveness of the oral administration of green tea in scavenging free radicals.33 Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), the most abundant polyphenol in green tea is responsible for this antioxidant ability. Moreover, the topical application of green tea extract can be used for skin conditions such as eczema and acne, thus, giving you a scar free skin.34
Do Retinoids Fight Skin-Aging?
Retinoids, which are vitamin A derivatives, are now widely used as an anti-aging agent. Vitamin A has a positive impact on collagen synthesis in naturally aged, sun-protected skin as well as in photoaged skin.35 Tretinoin, the first generation retinoid is recognized as an anti-aging treatment in a concentration of 0.05% in the United States. By reducing wrinkles, loss of skin elasticity and pigmentation, it fights UV-induced early skin aging.36 However, for some people, retinoids may cause skin irritation such as burning sensation at the site of application.37 This skin irritation is more seen in tretinoin and tazarotene. Whenever you choose skin care products, choose products that match your skin’s tone and requirement.
In addition to all these, daily care is vital to promote the skin regeneration. Here is what you have to do:
- Wash your face when you wake up and before you sleep to remove the dirt.
- Use lukewarm water to wash your face. Then apply a cleanser in a circular motion with your fingertips. Rinse off the cleanser. Gently pat dry your face with a towel.38
- Also, apply moisturizer every day as it traps water in your skin.39
As you adopt these tips in your life, do not forget the most repeated and well-known rule of skin care – drink more water. The increased water intake will keep your skin hydrated, giving it a more radiant glow.