The sun plays a major role in prematurely aging our skin. Other things that we do also can age our skin more quickly than it naturally would.
To help their patients prevent premature skin aging, dermatologists offer their patients the following tips.
Protect your skin from the sun every day
Whether spending a day at the beach or running errands, sun protection is essential.
You can protect your skin by seeking shade, covering up with sun-protective clothing — such as a lightweight and long-sleeved shirt, pants, a wide-brimmed hat, and sunglasses with UV protection — and using sunscreen that is broad-spectrum, SPF 30 (or higher), and water-resistant.
You should apply sunscreen every day to all skin that is not covered by clothing. For more effective protection, look for clothing with an ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) label.
Apply self-tanner rather than get a tan
Every time you get a tan, you prematurely age your skin. This holds true if you get a tan from the sun, a tanning bed, or other indoor tanning equipment. All emit harmful UV rays that accelerate how quickly your skin ages.
If you smoke, stop
Smoking greatly speeds up how quickly skin ages. It causes wrinkles and a dull, sallow complexion.
Avoid repetitive facial expressions
When you make a facial expression, you contract the underlying muscles. If you repeatedly contract the same muscles for many years, these lines become permanent. Wearing sunglasses can help reduce lines caused by squinting.
Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet
Findings from a few studies suggest that eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables may help prevent damage that leads to premature skin aging.
Findings from research studies also suggest that a diet containing lots of sugar or other refined carbohydrates can accelerate aging.
Drink less alcohol
Alcohol is rough on the skin. It dehydrates the skin, and in time, damages the skin. This can make us look older.
Exercise most days of the week
Findings from a few studies suggest that moderate exercise can improve circulation and boost the immune system. This, in turn, may give the skin a more-youthful appearance.
Cleanse your skin gently
Scrubbing your skin clean can irritate your skin. Irritating your skin accelerates skin aging. Gentle washing helps to remove pollution, makeup, and other substances without irritating your skin.
Wash your face twice a day and after sweating heavily
Perspiration, especially when wearing a hat or helmet, irritates the skin, so you want to wash your skin as soon as possible after sweating.
Apply a facial moisturizer every day
Moisturizer traps water in our skin, giving it a more youthful appearance.
Stop using skin care products that sting or burn
When your skin burns or stings, it means your skin is irritated. Irritating your skin can make it look older.
Note: Some anti-aging products prescribed by a dermatologist may burn or sting. When using a prescription anti-aging product, this can be OK. Just be sure to let your dermatologist know.
Never too late to benefit
Even people who already have signs of premature skin aging can benefit from making lifestyle changes.
By protecting your skin from the sun, you give it a chance to repair some of the damage. Smokers who stop often notice that their skin looks healthier.
If signs of aging skin bother you, you may want to see a dermatologist. New treatments and less-invasive procedures for smoothing wrinkles, tightening skin, and improving one’s complexion are giving many people younger-looking skin.