Many of the external causes of aging skin are determined by the health and lifestyle decisions you make every day. Making unhealthy choices can cause prematurely aging skin, and this makes you look older, faster. An important aspect to an anti-aging skin care program is to know what you may be doing that is harming your skin and speeding up your skin’s aging process.
Here are 7 habits that contribute to aging skin, making you look older than your years:
Cigarette smoke: Whether you smoke, or you spend time with a smoker, cigarette smoke is damaging — and aging — to your skin. Research has shown that exposure to cigarette smoke significantly increases skin wrinkles and dryness. This is partly due to the behavior of smoking, and also because cigarette’s smoke depletes your body of Vitamin C, which is a key ingredient for keeping skin plump and moist.
Some researchers believe that exposure to cigarette smoke (whether you smoke or not) is as damaging to aging skin as exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays.
Sun exposure: Sun exposure is very aging to skin. Unprotected skin that is exposed to the sun becomes more mottled in appearance. Freckles can turn into permanent brown sunspots; the skin takes on a dry, leathery appearance, and wrinkles and sagging increase. The risk of skin cancer is significantly increased by sun exposure.
The good news is that sun damage is avoidable, and if you start now, you can improve the condition of sun-damaged skin. Its never too late to start; and don’t even think about tanning salons!
See your health care provider to assess the amount of sun damage you may have, and to rule out possible skin cancers. He or she may be able to offer treatment that can help to reduce existing sun damage.
If you want to avoid aging skin but don’t want to avoid the sun, make sure you use sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB rays. Choose sunscreen with SPF of 30 or higher, and use it all year-round, even on cloudy days. Clouds do not block ultraviolet ray exposure for you and neither do windshields.
Lack of exercise: Living a sedentary life contributes to aging skin, because exercise helps to tone your muscles and gets your blood flowing. Exercise should be an important part of every anti-aging skin care program.
In addition to the physical benefits of exercise, the benefits of a regular exercise program will show on your face. Having a bright smile and lots of energy will help you look and feel younger, at any age.
Exposure to cold weather: Cold winds and low temperatures contribute to aging skin by making skin dry, so if you venture out in the cold be sure to use a good moisturizer. Avoidance and clothing like scarves are important to minimize windburn damage.
It is important to moisturizer indoors too, as heated rooms can be very drying to skin. Consider using a cool-mist humidifier to help keep your skin more comfortable and reduce the aging skin effects of heated rooms.
Alcohol use: Alcohol contributes to aging skin by dilating small blood vessels in the skin and increasing blood flow near the skin’s surface. Over time, these blood vessels can become permanently damaged, creating a flushed appearance and broken vessels on the skin’s surface.
Stress: Maybe you’ve heard this expression: “Don’t frown; your face could end up stuck that way.” Stress and worry cause frowning, and over time the muscles in the face actually conform to that movement.
To help reduce aging skin due to stress, be aware of your stress level and try to vary your facial expressions during the day. A good anti-aging skin care program should include meditation, yoga, gentle exercise or other relaxation techniques. Keeping stress in check — and frown lines and aging skin wrinkles to a minimum — will help you look and feel younger.
Lack of sleep: Too little sleep makes you look and feel tired. One of the first places lack up sleep shows up is on the face, with dark circles and bags under the eyes, and sagging skin. Research has shown that most adults function best with 8-9 hours of sleep each night. Reduce caffeine during the day (with none in the evening), avoid eating at least 2 hours before bedtime, and maintain a sleep routine that includes going to bed around the same time each night (including weekends).
While some signs of aging skin are inevitable, there’s a lot you can do to look your best at any age. While there is a plethora of excellent options available at Toronto Dermatology Centre to help reverse the signs of aging, prevention is always key.
~ Sheri Roselle, Medical Esthetician at Toronto Dermatology Centre