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

Baby Skin Needs Extra Sun Protection

Baby skin is especially vulnerable to sun damage. Here are five tips to keep your baby safe this summer.

Baby skin is sun-sensitive

Everyone wishes they had baby skin. It feels so soft and smooth; it’s perfectly adapted to induce us adults to want to clean their diaper, no matter how many times they dirty them. Like their big eyes and cute noses, baby skin it part of the whole package of being adorable. But like their eyes, their skin, however beautiful, is immature. Baby skin is thinner, has less natural moisturizers and has fewer pigment cells, making it more vulnerable to the environment than adult skin.

This is important especially in summer. How often do you see babies running around on the beach with just a diaper on? Although they seem indestructable, they are more vulnerable than the adult holding the pail and shovel.

Studies have shown that up to 83% of babies get sunburned their first year of life. This is our fault, not theirs. Sunburns at an early age can increase the risk for melanoma skin cancer on the trunk later in life. Sun exposure is also a poor way to get vitamin D for infants because most will get far more damaging sun than they need to make vitamin D — we adults tend to over cook them.

Here are five tips to keep your baby safe this summer:

1. Newborns up to 6 months should be kept out of the sun. Cover them up with light clothing and hats, and put the top down on the stroller.

2. Babies 6 months and older should not be exposed to the sun between 10am and 2pm. When they are outdoors, they should have sunscreen on all exposed skin. Because their immature skin can absorb chemicals more easily, choose sunscreens with zinc and titanium with an SPF of 30 or more. Chemical or spray sunscreens can burn their eyes which will be sure to make for a cranky baby at the beach.

3. Be sure to apply the sunscreen near their hairline, on their ears and at the edges of clothing — areas often missed by well meaning moms.

4. Choose sunscreens that are white or opaque; it’s easier to see where you’ve applied the sunscreen, and he’ll look cute anyway.

5. Be sure your baby is getting 400 IU of vitamin D everyday, then she won’t need any sun for her vitamin D.

Photo: Limaoscarjuliet, Flickr

Where Are You More Likely To Sunburn: Beach Or Mountains?

While vacationing in Idaho and Montana last week (blissfully off the grid), I experienced something beautiful: altitude. At 6,260 feet Stanley, Idaho is a mile higher than my home in San Diego. The skies there were a brilliant blue. There was daylight well after 10 PM. The mornings were a chilly 35 degrees. And I got sunburned.

How can this be? Montana is over 1,000 miles north of San Diego. Shouldn’t the sun be stronger down here?

Several things determine the sun’s intensity. The closer to the equator you are, the more intense the sun’s rays. But also, the higher up you are, the more intense the sun’s rays. Your UV exposure increases by 10% for every 3,280 feet in altitude; at 6,000 to 8,000 feet in elevation, you’re exposed to 25% more ultraviolet radiation than at sea level.

Also, snow (which fell during our mid-June trip) is an efficient reflector of sunlight. When skiing or hiking in snow, 80-90% of UV light is reflected at you, dramatically increasing your sun exposure. Grass in comparison reflects only about 3% of sunlight.

Water, especially when still, also reflects sunlight. Still lakes, including the beautiful Yellowstone Lake pictured above, can reflect up to 100% of UV light (hence the term mirrored lake), doubling your UV exposure.

So although you might feel hot lying on the beach in June in Southern California, you might be more vulnerable to sunburn on a chilly hike in Yellowstone after a June snowstorm, which is exactly what happened to me. (Hence the Stetson later in the trip…)

Photos: Madsit, Stanley, ID (top) Purticortico Yellowstone Lake, WY (middle) Dermdoc White Bird, ID (bottom).

Five Things You Should Know About Facial Redness

red-face-brent-and-marilynn

Despite its association with passion, love, and vibrancy the color red is not what most people want to see on their faces when they look in the mirror. Redness on your face develops from inflammation and from dilated tiny blood vessels right at the surface of your skin. Sometimes the redness can be sudden, whereas other times it can develop slowly over many years. Here are five things your should know about facial redness and what to do about it. Continue reading “Five Things You Should Know About Facial Redness”

Heat from the Sun Causes Aging

infrared-greg-donikian

We know that ultraviolet light from the sun causes damage to your skin. That’s because ultraviolet light is a form of radiation. It damages the delicate DNA in your skin cells, leading to aged, damaged skin and to skin cancers. It also causes free radicals to develop in the skin, damaging fragile elastin and destroying collagen, leaving skin wrinkled, lax, and without elasticity. Although most of the damage is done by this high energy form of radiation, new research suggests that even low energy forms of radiation are harmful. Continue reading “Heat from the Sun Causes Aging”