Our skin has an impressive ability to protect us and even bounce back despite the number of damaging elements it is exposed to. However, if it is showing the worse for wear, it can make you look old, tired or unhealthy. Since “distressed” is a look best applied to jeans, it won’t be as flattering on your skin. To address the problem head on, you need to be aware of which habits are prematurely setting off this process of decline. More importantly, you must know that you still have the chance to deal with any signs of wear and tear.
Skin Aging FACTs
Changes naturally occur in our skin as we age. It becomes rougher and more fragile, and sags over the years, sometimes even earlier for some people. As you gradually lose elastic tissue, or elastin, we initially notice fine lines. But, what starts out as a faint crease will eventually develop into a deep wrinkle if left unmanaged. What we usually see is just the tip of the iceberg, because underneath it all is a continuing decline of the structures which can find its way to the surface.
Yes, changes below the skin also become evident as we age. Fat loss in areas like the cheeks, temples, nose, chin and around the eyes reduces plumpness. Cartilage loss accentuates bony structures, particularly in the nose. All these are part of intrinsic aging, or the natural aging process that occurs over the years regardless of outside influences. It also means that on the down-low, your body produces about 1 percent less collagen in the skin every year once you hit your twenties.
On the surface, skin aging may show itself as dark spots, patchy skin tone and wrinkles. These are part of extrinsic aging, which is a process triggered by environmental factors and even our very own habits.
Prevention is the key for you to age beautifully. What is interesting, however, is that most of us are not even aware that a lot of what we do on a daily basis is aging our skin faster.
10 Habits that Age Your Skin
Aside from the obvious reasons, it’s the seemingly harmless habits that can cause significant damage. Collectively these can age our skin prematurely, and can even be harmful in the long run.
Unhealthy food choices can eventually show its effects on your skin. Fatty food, coffee and even sugary drinks are not the best options if you want to have radiant and youthful-looking skin. Junk foods can also load your system with free radicals, which are those nasty buggers that can only hasten the process of aging. A healthy diet may be a true test of patience and self-control but this not only good on the scale as it is also beneficial for your skin!
You may be a harmless couch potato, but being one can be a serious threat to your health. Recent research done on women showed that ladies who were sedentary were biologically older by eight years. It gives a significant age gap between those who exercised and those who just sit around.
Chronological age doesn’t always match biological age. Studies showed that cells age faster with a sedentary lifestyle, which means that you are making your skin look older every day you fail to exercise. Experts looked into the changes in DNA structure, particularly telomeres, which shorten as one ages. This can lead to several conditions like cancer, heart disease and diabetes.
It was discovered that women who sat longer end up shortening their telomeres faster. Consequently, the kind of aging that goes on inside will eventually find its way to the surface – and the process is significantly faster for those who spend more time sitting with very little to no exercise.
Poor Sleep Quality
Lack of sleep can speed up aging. In fact, even an all-nighter can already give you a preview of what your skin will suffer if you keep at it. The answer, however, is not only in getting a good number of hours but the quality of sleep.
Poor quality sleepers showed increased signs of intrinsic skin aging evidenced by fine lines and reduced elasticity. Their skin barrier function is diminished, which means that the skin’s recovery is also 30% less compared to good quality sleepers. They are also found to have lower satisfaction with their appearance. Therefore, beauty rest is no old wives’ tale because these stress-induced changes created by lack of good quality sleep can negatively affect your facial tissues.
Furthermore, sleep debt-related health conditions can also be bad for the skin. It can induce inflammatory skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis. In addition, it can also exacerbate allergic and irritant contact dermatitis.
Mechanical compression during sleep can distort the skin and cause sleep lines to develop. Stress forces become evident on the face when you assume a lateral or prone sleeping position. In a study, plastic surgeons noted that upon close inspection of their patient’s face, they noticed various facial lines. Detailed evaluation revealed that these were caused by their sleeping position. It was also concluded that these lines can be considered a factor in the formation of wrinkles.
Constant Use of Electronic Devices
This one can be quite hard to brush off especially when most of what we do is either online, or on our handheld device. Dermatologists are sounding the alarm on high energy visible (HEV) light emitted from your phone, tablet, or computer screens because this can cause damage to the skin – and ultimately cause premature aging.
Research in Japan found that the HEV, or “blue light,” emitted by your electronic device penetrates deeper into the layers of the skin than the sun’s UV rays. It can delay the recovery of your skin barrier from exposure to the environment and it can also result in more pronounced hyperpigmentation of the skin. Can you imagine the silent damage done by those countless selfies, or the long hours hunched over your laptop?
The way we physically interact with our devices can be damaging to our skin. For instance, some dermatologists noticed that most patients have older-looking necks due to constantly looking down on their laptops or phones, creating creases on their necks – or “tech neck” as they call it. The more our skin is held in a crease, the more prone it is to wrinkles.
Dehydrated and Dry Skin
Our skin can be dehydrated without us even knowing it.
To properly address this, you need to know what sets it apart from dry skin. Dehydration is a lack of water, not oil, so even oily skin types can be dehydrated. Dry skin is genetically inherited, while dehydrated skin is a condition caused by external elements such as an unhealthy diet, weather, and lifestyle choices. Other causes include hard water, temperature, and the sun. These factors can deplete the skin’s water content which results in skin that is less supple.
Dry skin, also referred to as alipoid skin, refers to skin that lacks natural oils. It can be caused by hormonal imbalances or an underactive thyroid which can inhibit the production of sebum, consequently producing a dull and lackluster complexion.
So, what happens when you don’t do anything about it?
You will start to have the following symptoms:
- Itchy patches
- Dull skin
- Increased sensitivity
- Fine lines and wrinkles
Dry and dehydrated skin is less resilient and is more prone to wrinkling. It may seem easy to correct, but it is also an issue most of us fail to notice.
It’s one thing to skip removing your makeup altogether, but it’s another mistake to cleanse it poorly. It is important to remove all makeup using makeup wipes or any suitable makeup remover. Afterwards, cleanse the face with a gentle foamy cleanser to rid the stubborn film out of the pores. Makeup removers tend to be oil based, so the second step ensure that the residual oil is removed from the skin to thoroughly unclog the pores.
Skipping sun protection
We only think about sun protection when we head out to the beach. But, did you know that sun exposure causes the most damage to our skin? In a country where humidity greets you for most parts of the year, your skin is highly at risk for sun damage and premature skin aging.
There are two types of UV radiation: UVA and UVB. Between the two, UVA is more dangerous because it can penetrate more deeply through the layers of skin and robs it of its ability to hold its shape. It can even pass through window glass and is present all year round – even on a cloudy day. UVB, on the other hand, is less damaging, but you often experience its effects when you get a sunburn.
To protect itself from the bombardment of heat, the skin produces all this splotchy pigment. This results in uneven skin tone, liver spots and freckles. Adding to that, UV radiation also increases the likelihood of premature skin aging. Just imagine walking around the city every day without any protection whatsoever – yes, even with long sleeves on. It’s not so much about the level of heat that touches your skin, but the sneaky UV radiation that causes visible and invisible injuries.
Not Giving Your Eyes Some Love
What we are referring to here is that delicate area of skin around your eyes. We often miss caring for it, not realizing that due to the quality of skin in this area, it is more prone to wrinkles and darkening.
Unprotected sun exposure leaves skin to wrinkle. Squinting, either under the heat of the sun or while working in front of your computer, can eventually form wrinkles at the outer portion of the eyes. These can even form as early as your late twenties. Another problem in this area are dark circles under the eyes. For some individuals, this can be hereditary, but for others this is caused by rubbing or scratching your eyes, unprotected sun exposure, fatigue, and allergies.
Not Caring for Your Neck
Just like the skin around your eyes, the skin on your neck is also thinner than the rest of the body. This area is often overlooked since we usually focus on the face. Most people do not cleanse, exfoliate, or even moisturize the neck area, and yet it receives the same damage from environmental factors as other exposed areas. The problem only becomes pronounced as you age due to the loss of collagen. Wouldn’t it be weird to have a neck that is in stark contrast to your smooth-looking face?
Tips To Combat Skin Aging
Taking care of your skin takes a couple of tweaks in your lifestyle. Think of it as doing your health a favor because the benefits will soon reflect on your skin. Start with these tips before you even consider going under the knife. Some may be easy, while some may require a bit of sacrifice. But, if you are serious about beating the signs of aging, these can give you good leverage.
A simple and healthy way to achieve great skin and to control the effects of premature aging is to load up on nutrients. Increase your portions on fruits and vegetables, while cutting back on red meat.
If you could just spend 30 minutes a day with any form of exercise, you can help control or even reverse aging to some degree. The earlier you start, the better, and physical activity should continue to be a part of our daily lives even as we get older.
Limit Device Use
This might be a challenge to most of us, but if you are serious about reducing the harmful effects, you need to dial down the hours spent being exposed to HEV light. Take a deep breath and put down your phone or take breaks in between those nine-to-five staring marathons at your computer screen. You can also protect your skin with a good moisturizer that is also formulated with UV protection.
Healthy Lifestyle Choices
A healthy skin care routine can’t be anywhere near successful when you don’t complement it with healthy lifestyle choices. They don’t have to be dramatic changes, but rather, simple tweaks like drinking plenty of water, reducing alcohol and coffee consumption, and increasing your portions of rich fruits and veggies.
Choose the right products
A good skin care routine is like a good friend: you need to get through some tough times before you can find one that is for keeps. It will be a journey lined with hits and misses, and if you continue without good advice, you could do more harm than good.
For example, your skin may be unable to tolerate high-strength vitamin C treatment every day or even tolerate the combination of an AHA or BHA exfoliant. With our individual responses to different products, you need to pay close attention to the way your skin responds to active ingredients, and invest in those that are appropriate for your skin type.
Many people are unaware of this fact, which is why they end up frustrated, or worse, more problems than they started out with. If your skin problems have escalated, it pays to get professional help. If you are not sure of your skin type, have it evaluated by an expert and work your way from there.
Increasing water intake can help hydrate your body, but to be able to target skin dryness or dehydration, you need to address the absence of a hydrolipid film. This lack of a functional barrier worsens skin dryness and dehydration because there is no protective barrier, making the skin more susceptible to transepidermal water loss (TEWL). So, even with enough water being taken, the skin remains unable to remain hydrated. To apply the simple law of chemistry to TEWL: Oil sits on top of water. Therefore, if we want to retain water within the epidermis or slow down water movement from the skin, bank on providing good oil-based protection on the surface.
Make cleaning your face a priority
Instead of settling on wipes to get rid of makeup, invest in oil, like coconut or jojoba, and smooth it over your skin. Allow it to settle and activate it with warm water before wiping it off with a clean towel. Micellar water is also a good and gentle option. Still, nothing beats good, ole facial wash to thoroughly wash off makeup. If you had a long day, make it a priority to wash your face before your head hits the pillow.
Use Proper Sun Protection
Relying on SPF alone simply doesn’t cut it if you want to protect your skin from premature aging. SPF only indicates the amount of protection the product has against sunburn, the result of UVB exposure. However, sun protection products are now required to inform you of how good they are at shielding your skin from UVA, the part of sunlight that causes aging.
UVA makes up 97% of the solar wavelengths that you are exposed to, and it is present all the time. Experts claim that most of the products that claim to protect against UVA are impractical. A smart way to protect your skin would be to use Zinc Oxide. It is a safe and effective ingredient which provides broad spectrum UV photoprotection. This UV filter predominately covers the UVA spectra, but if you want to address UVB, you can rely on Titanium Dioxide to do the job.
A study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine in June 2013 showed a 26% reduction in skin aging over only four and a half years between groups who use UVA protective sunscreen daily, and those who used one only when they “went out in the sun.” This adds more scientific evidence to support the cosmetic value of sunscreen.
Never Forget Eye Protection
When you have to spend a day outdoors, be sure that you protect your eye area with sunglasses. It can be chic or cool, but the bottom line here is that it gives excellent protection from UV rays. The Mayo Clinic suggests that to protect your eyes, you need to look for sunglasses that can do the following:
- Block 99 to 100 percent of both UVA and UVB rays.
- Screen out 75 to 90 percent of visible light.
- Have lenses that are perfectly matched in color and free of distortions and imperfections.
- Have lenses that are gray for proper color recognition.
The right glasses will not only protect your eyelids and the skin around the eyes, they will also prevent harmful rays from damaging the cornea, lens and other structures of the eyes.
Try Preventive and Restorative Treatment
Before surgical procedures are even considered, there are several non-invasive anti-aging treatments you can choose from. Q-switched Laser, Pulsed Light, Radiofrequency and even dermal fillers can help address the problem. These are aesthetic treatments that can either smoothen the look of fine lines, stimulate collagen restoration, and help even out your skin tone.
The secret is in choosing the right team to provide you with these treatments. You don’t have to compromise skin integrity to look young. Learn more about your other options at The Aesthetics Centre today.