The Ultimate Guide to Fighting the Signs of Skin Aging
The dreaded skin aging…it happens to all of us…
We age. So does our skin. Yes, skin ages. Causes run the gamut from dehydration, gravity, stress, sun damage, diet, smoking, excessive alcohol, genetics, and the list goes on. The sooner we start caring for our skin with a daily (and nightly!) beauty routine, staying out of the sun, monitoring our diet, and making our skin a priority, the longer we keep it healthier and younger-looking and slow the aging process.
Sun. One of the leading causes of skin aging
This is the single most important lifestyle change you can make to prevent or diminish the signs of skin aging. Sun exposure is one of the leading causes of premature aging. We all need to get in the routine of wearing sunscreen everyday to protect our skin. Just a quick walk on the beach (even if it’s cloudy) exposes skin to environmental effects – sun, wind, dehydration. Repeated exposure and sunburn can result in dark and age spots or discoloration. It’s also enough to damage the DNA in your skin, predisposing you to skin cancer and premature skin aging.
Use sunscreens that protect against both UVA and UVB rays (labeled with Broad-Spectrum). The vast majority of the sun’s radiation that reaches the earth is actually UVA. Use sunscreens that contain zinc or titanium dioxide and silicones (listed as dimethicone, orcyclomethicone, or cyclomethicone). These ingredients are less likely to irritate your skin and provide the best overall coverage and protection.
For more protection or if you aren’t able to reapply sunscreen repeatedly throughout the day, try UPF (ultraviolet protection factor) clothing lines such as Coolibar, Mott50, Naviskin, etc. These brands create light weight shirts, pants, shorts, swimsuits, wraps, dresses, and skirts to protect your skin from the summer sun.
Wear a wide brimmed hat whenever you are outside (even for a quick walk). Always wear your sunscreen as well because light reflects off the ground and can cause damage, even with a hat on.
UVA rays come right through most house and car windows, so consider installing UV blocking film on your car and home windows. Consider purchasing blue light blocking films for your electronics as more and more studies are showing detrimental effects of blue light on skin.
Avoid exposure and activities outside during the sun’s peak hours: 10am to 5pm in the summertime and 11am to 2pm in the wintertime and definitely stop any and all tanning bed use. Tanned skin may look good, but it is a sure sign of damage (often permanent) to your skin.
Consult a dermatologist
Consider seeing a board-certified dermatologist who can discuss available options to prevent and treat signs of skin aging including:
- Prescription strength chemical peels to reduce signs of photoaging including fine lines, wrinkles, and sun spots.
- Lasers Treatments to reduce fine lines, wrinkles, and sun spots.
- Botulinum toxin (Botox) that can prevent formation of wrinkles if you start it early enough (in your 20’s or 30’s) and can diminish the appearance existing wrinkles at later ages.
- Pointing out that we lose elastin as we age, causing sagging in skin. Fillers in different areas of the face and neck can make you look younger and can also stimulate collagen growth to prevent signs of aging in the future.
- Recommended customized and personalized skincare products that would be perfect for your specific skin type, issues and needs while promoting a more youthful appearance. Skincare with retinoids, vitamin a, vitamin c, hyaluronic acids or glycolic acids may be recommended to brighten skin while promoting cell turnover and collagen production.
Practice self-care. Take care of your mind and body
When you take care of your physical and mental self, you are taking care of your skin.
- Try to reduce stress in your life. Take time out of your day just for you, spend time with friends, go for a calming walk, or consider meditation. If you are unable to deal with your stress on your own, consider speaking with a close friend, a psychiatrist, or a psychologist.
- Eat right. Eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full. Avoid processed foods. Eat plenty of vegetables, especially leafy greens.
- Getting enough sleep reduces stress. Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day.
- Get rid of any lights that are on in your bedroom while sleeping, including lights from chargers, night lights, phones, television, and even your alarm clock. Try black out curtains and eye shades.
- Limit noise in your bedroom. Put your phone on silent. Try a white noise machine, a fan, or ear plugs to block out noise you can’t control.
- Avoid stimulants including nicotine, caffeine (this includes coffee, tea, and chocolate), and soda within 8 hours of your bedtime.
- Avoid eating two hours before bedtime to avoid symptoms of reflux.
- Get outside during the day to exposure yourself to natural sunlight to maintain a healthy sleep-wake cycle.
- Limit alcohol intake to 1 to 2 servings. However, even this amount can disrupt sleep.
- Make your bed comfortable. Make sure you have the right kind of mattress with comfortable sheets. Keep your bedroom cool.
- Don’t do anything in your bedroom except sleep and sex. If you work or study in your bedroom, you are more likely to think about these things when you are trying to fall asleep.
- Read quietly for 10 minutes before going to bed to let your mind unwind.
- If you can’t fall asleep because thoughts are running wild, try meditation to clear your mind.
- If you absolutely cannot fall asleep, don’t stay in bed. Get up and read a book. Try not to get on your phone or watch TV.
Make your skin a priority with personalized skincare regimen
We each have a different genetic makeup, a different lifestyle, diet, sensitivities and living environment. There is no one size fits all approach. Identify your skin issues and educate yourself through research or speaking with a board-certified dermatologist as to what personalized regimen would be best for your individual skin type and aging concerns. An anti-aging skincare regimen should consist of:
A gentle daily cleanser to wash away dirt and oil, allowing pores to breathe, lessening redness and irritation. And, with our newest fashion accessory, facial masks, more sweat and dirt will get caught in pores. This can actually affect skin health.
Moisturizers. Skin is losing moisture from interior, dry air, facial masks or change in diets. Apply moisturizer after cleansing. As skin ages, it tends to lose moisture, so a cream, rather than a lotion, may be more effective. Hydrating skin is key. Definitely use a day moisturizer with a Broad-Spectrum SPF and a bedtime moisturizer specifically formulated for nighttime use.
Depending on other wants and needs, and perhaps recommendations from your dermatologists, you may want to add a serum or an eye cream to your routine.
Tonika Bruce, MSN, RN, MBA. is an accomplished nurse leader, published author, and personal development expert passionate about advancing healthcare management and quality patient outcomes.
She taps into the years of experience in healthcare management to produce credible and easy-to-understand health and leadership content. Her exceptional work has been featured in reputable publications, including Forbes, Recruiter, Inc, and the Color of Wellness magazine.