We all know that eating right and drinking water are essential to looking young, but is that all there is to it?
You won’t be surprised that anti-aging habits extend well beyond dieting, but you may be surprised at what practices you have that actually speed up the aging process. Habits that have rolled over from our 20s can become destructive to our skin as we age, making wrinkles more pronounced and prevalent.
“When people first see signs of aging—fine lines, brown marks, smile lines, crow’s feet—is when they become better about anti-aging care,” says dermatologist Diane C. Madfes, assistant clinical professor at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine in New York City and a spokesperson for the American Academy of Dermatology. “The good news is that it’s never too late to respond to what you see.”
As it turns out, it isn’t the price tag on the product that is going to keep you looking youthful and radiant, it’s how you use it. Here are a few habits to break today, and a few new ones you need to start to keep the signs of aging at bay.
1. Avid Sun Management
The worst thing you can do for your skin is ignore sun protection. UVA rays have been classified as a carcinogen, meaning they damage elastin and cause a loss of collagen, which equals wrinkles and dark spots.
UV exposure damages healthy skin cells and makes it harder for your body to reproduce new ones, so daily protection from the sun is essential. Here are a few ways you can keep harmful rays away.
Wear sunscreen every day, even if you don’t plan on spending time outside. UVA rays can penetrate through glass and clothing, so you’re exposed to these harmful rays any time you’re in the sun.
Use moisturizers with SPF in them. These lighter lotions won’t clog your pores, but will still help protect your soft skin cells from harmful rays.
Spend as much time in the shade as you can when you’re outside, especially between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the sun’s rays are the strongest.
Wear UV protective clothing when you spend a lot of time in the sun, like when you’re gardening, hiking or hosting a barbecue.
2. Stop Smoking Today
The second worse habit for inviting premature wrinkles is smoking. Not only do the carcinogens in cigarettes kill healthy cells inside your body, the repeated pursing of your lips around a cigarette generates wrinkles that can’t be cured.
If you’re worried about the signs of aging appearing on your face, it’s time to cut out smoking for good.
3. Minimize Alcohol Consumption
Maintaining moisture is one of the key pillars to reducing the signs of aging. Alcohol dehydrates the skin, making wrinkles more prominent and diminishing your body’s natural ability to replenish skin cells, especially if you drink before bed, which is when your body does most of its repairs. Alcohol can also cause broken or distended capillaries on the nose and face.
In small doses, red wine may be good for the skin. The grapes used in red wine contain retinoids, which can boost collagen production and stimulate blood vessels. But, alcohol should be consumed in moderation, as the negatives tend to outway the anti-aging benefits.
4. Develop a Routine, And Stick to It
The skin is a sensitive organ and it doesn’t like change. As you age, your body doesn’t need expensive, top-shelf products to stay healthy, it needs a routine.
Make sure you remove all makeup and wash your face before bed each night. Your skin is constantly being exposed to chemicals during the day that break down collagen. If you don’t cleanse your face, these pollutants will continue to assault your skin all night long.
After cleansing, apply a moisturizer and sleep on a clean pillow and sheets. This will give your skin the opportunity to regenerate while you sleep, so it’s ready to take on the next day.
5. Rally the Retinoids
Retinoids are a vitamin A derivative compound that have been proven to help reduce the signs of aging in just a few months.
These compounds boost collagen production and cell turnover, so your skin is replenished with newer, healthier cells more often. Retinoids have also been shown to unclog pores and stimulate blood vessels, meaning they can reduce oil and acne, smooth your skin and leave skin looking brighter and healthier.
Talk to your doctor about getting a retinol moisturizer and insert it into your daily routine. When introducing retinoids to your skin, start slow. This powerful compound can take your skin a few weeks to get used to.
6. Reduce Your Makeup Ritual
When it comes to aging skin, foundation can do more harm than good. A heavy foundation settles into wrinkles as the day progresses, making them more noticeable. Instead, use a concealer to cover blemishes and around your eyes, and then use a tinted moisturizer for allover coverage.
Finish with an illuminating primer on your face and chest. Primers contain reflective particles that bounce light around the skin so fine lines are less noticeable.
7. Moisturize, Moisturize, Moisturize
Remember that your whole body needs moisturizing, not just your face.
Take care of your hands by regularly exfoliating and moisturizing them to remove dead skin cells and replenish collagen. And try using a sesame oil or coconut shea butter on your body daily. You’ll hydrate your skin, get your blood circulating and exit the shower looking and feeling completely replenished.
8. Massage Stress Away
Stress is a top culprit for premature aging. To keep your skin, body and mind healthy, try getting regular massages that will reduce stress and reinvigorate blood flow.
If you can’t swing frequent massages, try other forms of stress relief like meditation or yoga. Practicing mindfulness meditation for just 20 minutes a day can greatly reduce stress and regularly stretching makes you look and feel younger from the inside out.
9. Don’t Skimp on Sleep
Bedtime is when the body gets a chance to repair itself after a long day. When you don’t get enough quality sleep, you are reducing your body’s ability to manage stress, repair damaged cells and regulate your metabolism.
Make sure you have a good night-time routine. Sleep in a clean, cool environment without noise and light pollution so your mind has a chance to relax and fall into a deep, restful sleep.
Unfortunately, there isn’t one grand trick that will reverse the signs of aging. Looking and feeling younger comes from a combination of small, daily tasks that work together to rejuvenate your body.
The sooner you adopt these healthy habits, the more opportunity you give your body to stave off typical aging tells. So get to work, and start rejuvenating your body today!