As a beauty editor, I hear about skin aging on a near-daily basis.
The dermatologists I interview go on about the rapid decline of our collagen stores. If I get invited to a skin treatment, the therapist might point out my sun damage or likelihood of future lip lines (true story). And then there are the press presentations, where we're shown giant diagrams of the epidermis in various stages of wrinkling, sagging, spotting and dullness.
It sure can get depressing. (See? This job isn't all unicorns and rainbows.)
But I think there's a way to be more positive about the future aging process—and that's by taking control.
Personally, I've always believed that our outsides are a reflection of our inner health and how well we take care of ourselves—which includes everything from diet to lifestyle to the skincare products we use. We can all start making choices that'll have a lasting positive impact, not only on our complexions but our entire bodies.
And that's what I want to share with you today. Here are 10 things you can do right now to prevent the first signs of skin aging:
1. Be Sun Safe
This one's a no-brainer, but c'mon, I had to say it. Protecting your skin from the sun is the number one way to prevent premature aging (not to mention deadly skin cancers). The golden rule is to wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen that shields you from both UVA and UVB rays, of at least SPF 15 (higher if you're going to be outdoors or driving).
2. Get Enough Deep Sleep
During sleep, our bodies go into repair mode—and that includes the skin. (They call it "beauty sleep" for a reason!) Because the most restorative functions happen around 1am, during deep sleep, it's important to get to bed early. The consensus seems to be that most people need between six to eight hours of rest, but if you remember me talking about a certain age-defying actress, there's a case to be made for even more!
3. Don't Smoke (or Drink That Much)
We all know that smoking speeds up the aging process. Nicotine starves the skin of oxygen, causing dullness, and breaks down elasticity, leading to wrinkles. (One study found that premature wrinkles can appear in smokers as young as age 20!) But did you know that alcohol can also age the skin? Not only is it dehydrating and inflammatory, but it also depletes vitamin A levels, which are critical for the production of collagen (the protein that keeps skin firm and strong).
4. Lower Your Stress
Under stress, our bodies go into "fight or flight" mode, releasing hormones and chemicals that increase inflammation and age us on a cellular level. A 2001 study found that stress compromises the skin barrier, reducing its ability to repair itself and causing water loss. Of course, it's hard to escape stress completely, but committing to regular meditation, yoga, walking or other de-stressing techniques can all help to make stress more manageable.
5. Eat Foods High in Vitamin A
Like I said, vitamin A is a key nutrient for building collagen and repairing skin tissues. You're not gonna like this, but the very best source... is liver. A true "superfood," just one serving of beef liver contains more than 50,000 IU of vitamin A—so having some once a week or so can make a huge difference in your skin quality (it's also great for acne). Other sources of vitamin A include milk, cream, eggs and butter. Carrots and other vegetables aren't ideal because almost 50 percent of women can't effectively convert beta-carotene to vitamin A.
6. Start a Skincare Regimen
Our skin is our largest—yet most delicate—organ. So it's never too early to start taking care of it with a proper skincare routine (and not, say, doing stuff like this). However, a common mistake is to use products for mature skin that are too rich and heavy. That's one reason I like Biotherm's new Skin Best range, specifically designed to target the first signs of aging, i.e. fine lines and texture changes. High in one of my favourite skin ingredients, glycerin, the line is also formulated with the antioxidant astaxanthin, which protects against oxidation from free radicals, and spirulina algae, which instantly combats fatigue. The Serum-in-Cream can be worn alone or underneath one of the two moisturizers, the Day Cream and the Intense Night Recovery Balm.
7. Load Up On Antioxidants
Speaking of of free radicals, let's go over the importance of antioxidants—both topically and internally. A hidden cause of aging, free radicals are highly reactive molecules generated naturally by our bodies and from exposure to environmental factors such as pollution, UV radiation and smoking. Left to their own devices, they can damage collagen and elastin fibres, and even DNA. Using a good topical antioxidant such as vitamin C, ferulic acid, coffee extract or the astaxanthin in Biotherm's Skin Best range can help counter their effects, while supplementing with vitamin E can protect against oxidation internally. Tomatoes, berries, green tea, garlic and red grapes are all potent dietary sources of antioxidants, too.
8. Exfoliate a Little
But not too much. As we age, cell turnover slows down and the skin's outer layer doesn't slough off as easily—which means uneven tone and the loss of that "glow". To restore it, I like gentle chemical exfoliants such as lactic acid, but you can also use a scrub or a face cloth. Depending on product and skin type, some people can tolerate daily exfoliation, whereas others can only do it once a week. If your skin gets red or irritated, that's a sure sign you're overdoing it—which can actually backfire, causing premature aging instead of preventing it!
9. Try Facial Massage
Ever come out of a facial looking like you just had a facelift? That's the principle behind facial massage, which anyone can do at home to relieve wrinkle-causing muscle tension and increase blood flow (which in turn helps with collagen production). Biotherm has developed a unique protocol inspired by Japanese pressure point massage, which you can do along with your product application. It really works!
10. Don't Forget Your Neck and Chest
Your face stops at your boobs and don't you forget it! In fact, it's crepiness and wrinkles on the neck and chest that usually give away a woman's age. The skin is just as delicate there as on our faces, and yet it's the area we most neglect, often forgetting to apply both sunscreen and anti-aging products. Start including your décolletage in your skincare routine now, and in a few years, you'll be SO thankful.
Have Your Say
What's YOUR attitude to skin aging? Does your routine include any of these measures? What else do you swear by?