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

Fall Is Here, Time To Change Skincare Products In Your Vanity

What I Wore: The Editor

Fall is finally here. It’s time to change the clothes in your wardrobe to knee-length pencil skirts, motorcycle leather jackets, and animal print handbags, says Vogue. It’s also time to change your skincare products, says @dermdoc.

Most of us associate changing seasons with changing wardrobes, but it’s also the time to evaluate your skincare routine. Humid, warm air will change to dry, cool air like greens to reds on maple trees. Your skin is a living organ and actively responds to these environmental changes.

  • Dry air means your skin will produce more oils to protect itself.
  • Cool air means that previously flushed skin will pale.
  • Less sun means that thick skin will shrink.
  • Less ultraviolet B light means that tanned skin will fade to allow for maximum vitamin D production.

When you start packing away your shorts and spaghetti strap dresses, remember that your skin needs you to pack away some of your summer products.

  • Dryer, thinner skin is more sensitive; consider exfoliating less frequently. Some scrubs or at-home microdermabrasions should be reduced to once every few days or week.
  • Some retinoids like Retin-A or Renova, can be reduced from every day to every other day to minimize irritation in fall and winter.
  • Listen to your skin. Is it increasingly red and stinging as the weather changes? You might have to stop some peels or toners completely until springtime.
  • Consider switching soapy facial washes to soothing or creamy facial cleansers.
  • Change from a lotion moisturizer to a cream moisturizer. If you haven’t moisturized every day, then you should start now.
  • Use a facial moisturizer, particularly if you’re prone to acne or have excessively dry facial skin.
  • Depending on how far north you live and on your skin tone, you might be able to cut back on sunscreen for winter. Although complete sun protection is the best way minimize all damage to your skin, wearing sunscreen year-round may not be necessary. If you’re not sure, talk to your dermatologist.
  • Remember that even in winter, at high altitudes and where the ground is covered with snow, ultraviolet light can be strong, more like summertime sun. So you always need sunblock when skiing or snowboarding.

Photo credit: FCC, Jessica Quirk

Fluorescent Light Bulbs and UV Exposure

2305743349_47deddac2f_o

You might be getting some UV exposure long after the sun goes down — some new fluorescent light bulbs give off UV light.

Fluorescent light bulbs are everywhere now that people are trying to be more green. Most popular are the ice-cream-twist compact fluorescent bulbs called CFBs. CFBs create light by energizing a gas and exciting a phosphorous coating on their glass. The coating prevents most of the ultraviolet light from reaching you, but not entirely; some UV radiation leaks out of any fluorescent bulb. In some CFBs, the emission of UV light is so high that it exceeds the safety limits of the International Commission of Non-Iodizing Radiation.

So, should you be applying sunscreen before turning on your CFB reading light at night? No. Nor should you switch your CFBs back to energy wasting incandescent bulbs. The amount of UV exposure that you get from the light bulb is small compared to the UV exposure you get from just being outside; for most people it is not significant.

However, some people are exquisitely sensitive to ultraviolet light. Auto immune diseases such as lupus, inflammatory disease such as rosacea, and certain drugs such as HCTZ can be triggered by even small amounts of UV light from CFBs.

If you are particularly sensitive to UV, then select CFBs that have a double envelope instead of single, as it will block most of the UV light. And always stay at least one foot away when using fluorescent bulbs of any sort.

Also, remember to sit back from your TV (which my mother taught me to do when I was a kid). Of course, now with HDTVs, you get the best picture when you’re sitting a distance of 3 times the diameter of your TV. If you just bought a 60 inch HDTV, you might need to be in your neighbor’s living room to watch it. This, fortunately, should be safely away from any radiation.

Photo: Steven Fernandez (flickr)

LED Light Treatment Provides SPF 15 Skin Protection

With all the hype about sunscreens lately, wouldn’t it be nice if someone came up with another way to protect your skin against sun damage without having to deal with sticky, pasty-white, sometimes ineffective, sunscreen? Continue reading “LED Light Treatment Provides SPF 15 Skin Protection”