The Top Causes of Premature Skin Aging
Beautiful skin isn't all in the genes. There's plenty you can do to, on a daily basis, to keep skin youthful and radiant.
Is there a "miracle" way to prevent skin aging? In my busy practice, I get a lot of questions about how to reduce and prevent premature skin aging, and I can say this: There is no miracle, but staying out of the sun is first and foremost and can make a huge difference in how your skin ages. The sun's ultraviolet (UV) rays trigger the production of free radicals, which contribute to the breakdown of the key youth-building substance, collagen. (Collagen is the structural protein that gives your skin its fullness. Without collagen, skin develops wrinkles and sags.) Next up is lifestyle: eating a healthy balance of the right foods (like colorful, antioxidant-rich fruits and veggies), drinking enough water, exercising to reduce stress, and getting enough sleep all help to slow down the skin's aging process, too.
"Eating a healthy balance of the right foods (like colorful, antioxidant-rich fruits and veggies), drinking enough water, exercising to reduce stress, and getting enough sleep all help to slow down the skin's aging process."
What that said, though, there are some simple tweaks you can make to your daily habits that can also make a difference:
1) BECOME A BACK SLEEPER. No matter how soft your pillow, sleeping on your side or with your face in the pillow causes the skin to crease and the fabric—from the pillowcase—to bunch up, putting pressure on your face every single night. Over time, this repeated action can create sleep lines on your face and neck, which can become permanent wrinkles. Sleeping on your back is the best option to avoid these lines. Some patients have told me they find it helpful to place a pillow under their knees or molded next to their body to prevent them from sleeping on their stomach or on their side. If you absolutely can't avoid sleeping with your face in the pillow, invest in a silk pillowcase. The slippery surface of these pillowcases reduces the friction between your skin and the fabric, minimizing the bunching up of fabric that contributes to deep creases.
"Invest in a silk pillowcase. The slippery surface of these pillowcases reduces the friction between your skin and the fabric, minimizing the bunching up of fabric that contributes to deep creases."
2) WEAR A SWEATER AT HOME—INSTEAD OF CRANKING UP THE HEAT. Excessive heat sucks the moisture out of air, dehydrating skin (and hair) and making wrinkles more pronounced. Keep heat moderate (around 68°F or 69°F), drink plenty of water, and use a humidifier to combat dehydration. Optimal humidity levels are between 40 and 60% (a humidistat can measure these levels so you know when to leave the humidifier running and when to shut it off).
3) SKIP THE STRAWS. Drinking through a straw every once in awhile is not going to cause wrinkles, but if you make it a regular habit several times a day (or more) over many years, it can contribute to upper and lower lip (perioral) wrinkle formation. The simple reason: The more you fold the skin in this area or pucker your lips (like a smoker does), the more creased (and wrinkled) skin in this area becomes.
"The more you pucker your lips, the more creased (and wrinkled) skin in this area becomes."
4) LIMIT ALCOHOL INTAKE. Even though red wine is a good source of antioxidants, drinking a lot of it—or any alcohol, for that matter—isn't good for any part of your body, skin included. One of the main reasons is that alcohol acts as a diuretic, causing dehydration. This can cause your skin to look older and more wrinkled; it can also make skin look pale or gray in color. (Too much alcohol is also toxic for your liver, which can contribute to skin discoloration.) It helps to drink water in between drinks to stay hydrated, but it's better to limit your drinks from the get-go!
Excessive alcohol also reduces blood levels of vitamin A, an important antioxidant for your skin that's critical for collagen production. It helps to drink antioxidants (coffee and green tea are good sources) or eat antioxidants—and to apply them topically to neutralize these effects. Replenish from the inside and out!
Alcohol is also a vasodilator that widens the blood vessels of the face—causing facial redness and swelling. Over time, these vessels can become more visible as broken capillaries or persistent redness.
My philosophy: It's always best to maintain a healthy balance in life to keep your body healthy—and your skin looking it's youthful, radiant best.