While growing older is inevitable, we can reduce the signs of aging with a little care. Here are some tips to help you turn back the clock.
- Be vigilant about on-going sun protection. Use sun protection, including sunscreen, UV blocking glasses, and hats. Put on protection prior to leaving the house in the morning, for mid-day activities, and if necessary, again before leaving school or work for home. Remember that the sunscreen you apply in the morning has reduced protection 2 hours after application. Avoid playing outdoor sports at mid-day, when heat and perspiration make it nearly impossible to keep sunscreen on the skin.
- Wear sunglasses for UVA protection in eye area, and eye correction to prevent squinting, which causes wrinkles. Wearing sunglasses may also help to prevent cataracts.
- Don't smoke. In addition to risk of lung cancer and cardiovascular disease, smoking prematurely ages the skin and damages blood vessels. It slows wound healing, and limits the skin's ability to self-repair.
- Eat well. A nutritious diet (we recommend a low-glycemic index, Mediterranean-type diet, rich in fruit, vegetables, nuts, legumes, fish, whole grains, and monosaturated fats such as olive oil) will show in your skin and overall health. Avoid processed carbohydrates and sugars, which cause instability in insulin levels. Avoid saturated fats, trans fats. Staying adequately hydrated is also important to optimizing health and healthy-looking skin.
- Avoid weight gain. Gaining/losing weight stretches the skin, and can contribute to sagging, and has a negative impact on insulin sensitivity.
- Use a daily skin care regime, including cleansing, exfoliating, moisturizing, and additional treatments depending on skin type (retinoids, bleach creams, antioxidants, etc.).
- Meet your sleep requirements. Your skin, health, and mental acuity will show a significant improvement with adequate sleep. The skin's ability to initiate self-repair is greatest during sleep.
- Avoid stress. Stress has a negative impact on many bodily systems. While we have evolved to tolerate stress, modern day living has unprecedented factors creating stress (career pressures, social stress, pollution, etc.) occurring simultaneously. Exercise, meditation or prayer, breathing exercises, and scheduled "relaxation time" reduces stress and therefore improves overall health as well as the appearance of the skin (if you do any of the above outside, use sun protection).
- Add antioxidants and EFA's to your diet. Anti-oxidants have been shown to neutralize free radicals. EFA's found in foods such as fish and flax seeds, support cell repair and have anti-inflammatory properties, anti-proliferative properties, and help to maintain epidermal hydration.
- Exfoliate properly - Use the appropriate (chemical, mechanical or both) exfoliating agents for your skin. Using too many exfoliating products, or products that have an exfoliative action, or using the product too frequently or with too much intensity, can cause sensitivity and irritation. Not exfoliating can leave the skin looking dry and dull, and will worsen acne-prone skin. Start slowly, and let your skin's comfort be your guide.
- Sleep on your back to avoid "sleep creases".
- Be gentle with skin in eye area - avoid excessive rubbing or manipulating eyes, particularly when applying and removing makeup, and applying eye care products. Try to avoid frowning excessively, which creates a wrinkle between the brows and the appearance of being angry. Use an eye cream appropriate for your skin type. Even if you have oily skin, and use moisturizer in no other area, chances are your skin will benefit from an eye cream.
A number of people will not be able to do all of the above for a variety of reasons, such as having small children and not enough time to sleep, exercise, etc., or may have physical limitations preventing them from exercising. Here is a quick "Baare bones" cheat sheet that virtually everyone can follow regardless of health or time constraints:
- Always protect the skin/eyes from the sun.
- Don't smoke.
- Eat well.
- Avoid weight gain.
- Take anti-oxidant/EFA supplements.