New Study Proves That Sunscreen Prevents Aging

A new study from Australia shows that daily use of sunscreen helps prevent skin aging, including wrinkles and dark spots.

wrinklesSunscreens prevent aging, don’t they? You’d think that would be an easy question to answer. Turns out, until a few days ago, it wasn’t. That’s because it takes years to conduct such studies.

Now, a new study in the Annals of Internal Medicine shows conclusively that wearing sunscreen helps prevent photoaging — premature aging from the sun, including wrinkles and sun spots. The study participants who applied sunscreen every day showed 24% less skin aging than those told to use the cream as they normally do.

Researchers found that of the 900 men and women in the study, those assigned to use daily sunscreen were less likely to have wrinkles and dark spots after 4.5 years than those who did not regularly use sunscreen.

So, what should you do? Use a broad-spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher daily.

And remember, “buckle up and reapply.”

Photo credit, FCC, gracieandviv

Why Does Skin Age? Part II: 11 Tips to Slow Aging

Skin aging is caused by intrinsic (genetic) factors and extrinsic (environment and lifestyle) factors. Here are 11 tips to slow aging.

Grandmother & Granddaughter

In my last post I explained that skin ages due to both intrinsic (genetic) factors and extrinsic (environment and lifestyle) factors. Today I’m sharing 11 tips to slow aging in your skin. Notice I didn’t say “stop” aging. That can’t be done. Granddaughters turn into grandmothers. For now, anyway.

  1. Avoid the sun. No single factor is more important to prevent aging than avoiding excess sun exposure. Ultraviolet light breaks down the elastin and collagen in your skin, causing brown discoloration, thinning of the skin, and ultimately wrinkles. Wear a broad spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher on your face and hands every day.
  2. Stop smoking. Smoking deprives your skin of oxygen, releases damaging oxidizing free radicals and causes wrinkles, dullness, and sallowness. It is a sure contributor to aging. Find a way to quit this summer.
  3. Lose weight. Gaining weight causes excess heavy fat to develop on your face. This will stretch your skin and pull down your cheeks and jowels, aging your face. Have you ever said that someone who has lost a lot of weight looks a lot younger? There is a reason why.
  4. Go low-glycemic. A low-glycemic diet high in fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein is healthy for your body and your skin. Research has shown that sugary or high glycemic carbohydrate foods can contribute to aging.
  5. Eat less. We know that animals who adhere to a calorie restricted diet age much more slowly than those on a normal diet. Eating 1/3 fewer calories is difficult but would be likely to slow all aging, including your skin.
  6. Control your stress. Chronically elevated levels of the stress hormone cortisol can damage your organs including your skin. Meditate, exercise, travel, keep a journal. Do whatever it takes to reduce the stress pounding on you.
  7. Sleep on your back. Sleeping on your face or on your side causes wrinkles overnight. The weight of your head on your pillow can also limit the blood flow, depriving your skin of blood and oxygen overnight. Night after night this can lead to permanent wrinkles. Try to train yourself to sleep on your back.
  8. Cut back on alcohol. Drinking alcohol causes dehydration and can lead to damage of your skin over time. Although it does not cause rosacea, it can lead to unsightly red blood vessels on your face that quickly age you.
  9. Wear make-up appropriately. Wearing too much makeup can actually harm your skin by clogging pores and causing excess dryness. Thick foundations and shimmery makeup make you look much older especially if it cracks or settles into existing fine lines and wrinkles. As you age, a lighter touch and natural shades are most flattering.
  10. Moisturize. Your skin is under constant assault from the elements — wind rain, humidity, hot, dry weather and arctic air all damage your skin leading to wrinkles and dullness. Fight back by applying a facial moisturizer every day to protect your skin. Moisturizers also plump up skin, reducing the appearance of fine lines.
  11. Stop squinting. Whether you’re squinting to avoid the sun or to see your computer monitor, repeatedly contracting your eye muscles will cause permanent wrinkles over time. Wear dark sun glasses every day, and be sure there’s no glare on your computer screen at work or at home.

Photo credit: FCC, Jenny818

Why Does Skin Age? Part I: Genetics

Skin aging results from both intrinsic (genetic) and extrinsic (environment and lifestyle choices) factors. Intrinsic factors cannot be changed, but extrinsic factors can.

The Aged Beauty

A 91-year-old woman who comes to me every few months for treatment of skin cancers came to me recently. While I was removing a basal cell from her scalp, she volunteered: “I should have died at 85.”

“Why would you say that? I asked.

“Just look at my skin,” she said. “There’s nothing left to it. My joints are shot, my heart doesn’t beat right, the bowels don’t work. We just weren’t meant to live this long.”

Mind you, this is from a woman who still drives in to see me. She has managed to stay healthy but has not avoided aging.

Aging is most common disease I see. Billions of dollars are spent each year to conquer and unconquerable foe.

So why does our skin age? And why in this technologically sophisticated world haven’t we figured out how to stop aging?

Skin aging results from both intrinsic and extrinsic factors. Intrinsic factors are your genetic makeup — your skin color, texture, and elasticity you inherited from your parents — and cannot be modified.

  • Aging begins in your 20’s
  • Loss of elastin leads to lax skin and the formation of wrinkles.
  • Dead skin cells don’t shed properly leading to scaly skin.
  • Loss of natural skin fats lead to dry, itchy skin.
  • Loss of collagen and elastin leads to thin, papery skin on the hands and arms and  vertical ridges around your lips.
  • Loss of underlying fat leads to hollowness under the eyes, sunken cheeks, and sunken backs of hands.
  • Gray hair and loss of hair develop.
  • Nails become thin, brittle, and easily breakable. The loss of nail lunula (the white part of the nail) occurs and nail ridges develop.

Extrinsic factors are things within your control that also lead to aging including sun damage, smoking, sleeping habits, and diet. These are all factors that can be modified. And in my next post, I’ll share my best anti-aging tips with you.

Photo credit: FCC, alex proimos

Twins Show That Aging Is Not All in Your Genes

simon whitaker twins

Have you ever looked in the mirror and noticed how much you’re starting to look like your mother or father? It happens to all of us: much of aging is determined by the genes we inherited from our parents. Continue reading “Twins Show That Aging Is Not All in Your Genes”

Hormone Replacement Therapy Doesn’t Make You Younger

For post-menopausal women, decreasing estrogen levels might contribute to skin aging. Common skin changes associated with being post-menopausal include atrophy (thinning of the skin), wrinkling, dryness, laxity, sallow complexion, and poor wound healing. There are estrogen receptors in the skin and it is thought that the decrease in estrogen that accompanies menopause leads to a loss of estrogen activity and to these undesirable skin changes.

Continue reading “Hormone Replacement Therapy Doesn’t Make You Younger”