Americans spend billions of dollars a year trying to look younger. Skin care and aging has become a very profitable industry. What many people aren’t aware of, however, is how our everyday activities contribute to the condition of our skin. Everything from sun exposure to a poor diet and sedentary lifestyle can make you look older.
Hidden Causes of Wrinkles
There are a few well-known causes of wrinkles at any age. The two most obvious are too much exposure to the sun and smoking. Both can cause premature aging. Other lesser-known causes of wrinkles include:
• Sedentary lifestyle. Exercising just 30 minutes a day can help give your skin a more youthful appearance and even reverse some of the signs of aging.
• Drinking too much alcohol. It causes dehydration, which in turn makes skin appear less plump.
• The repetitive action of chewing gum or smoking can cause wrinkles around your mouth. Kicking habits like these can help you preserve your skin.
• Going to bed without taking your make-up off or washing your face causes your pores to clog. That leads to a breakdown in your skin’s collagen and elastin. The result is skin that appears duller and older.
• Tugging on your skin when washing off your makeup or shaving can also lead to wrinkles. Avoid pulling on your skin.
• Overdoing it on meat, dairy and sugar can cause your skin to age more quickly. People who eat a Mediterranean style diet consisting of olive oil, fish, vegetables, fruits and legumes experience less sun damage than those who consume more red meat, dairy products and carbohydrates from sugar.
• Using straws on a regular basis causes repetitive facial movements. As does squinting in to the sunlight if you forget to wear your sunglasses. Both of these can lead to premature wrinkles.
Natural Ways to Keep Your Skin Looking Younger
Taking care of your skin is important at every age. There are ways you can keep your skin looking youthful without resorting to surgery or other procedures. The three best are:
• Eat a healthy diet. Foods rich in lycopene, flax seed, omega-3 fatty acids, and other vitamins and minerals can help fight off sunburn and skin cancer. They can also keep you hydrated and help prevent the inflammation that can make you appear older. Be sure your diet includes foods such as tomatoes, sweet potatoes, spinach, tea, pomegranate, dark chocolate, and almonds.
• Protect yourself from the sun. It is especially important to avoid the sun during the middle of the day when the sun’s rays are the most damaging. When you are outside, wear a hat, a light-weight long sleeve shirt and sunscreen. Wearing sunscreen even on cloudy days is vital. Don’t forget to put it on when you are driving a car. Dermatologists routinely see patients with more sun damage on the left side of their face and body from sun exposure while driving.
• Follow a skin care regimen. Use a gentle cleanser on both your face and body. Avoid products that contain alcohol or that feel dry on your skin. Keep water temperature warm but not hot. Be sure to apply face moisturizer and body lotion in the morning and in the evening. Avoid scrubs that feel gritty to the touch. They can damage your skin. Never go to bed without washing off your makeup.
While genetics contribute to skin health, physical and lifestyle choices can help you overcome many skin problems. We hope these tips encourage you to better care for and protect your skin.