Top 7 Tips to Prevent and Repair Aging
Effective steps for slowing down the aging process |
Everyone gets old. Everyone ages and everyone will get wrinkles. This is not something you can stop from happening.
However, the good news is, you can prevent aging to a certain extent.
As you age, your skin no longer sheds and renews itself as quickly. It starts to lose moisture, thin, and grow loose (hence jowls and eye bags). Sun damage (all those years of tanning or running around as a kid without sunscreen), facial expressions (frowning, smiling), lifestyle habits (smoking, drinking, diet), and even gravity all contribute to the aging of your skin.
You can't stop Father Time, but there are things you can do to slow down the aging process and repair some of the damage already done. Here are the top 7 anti-aging skin tips for doing just that, starting with number seven:
No. 7: A GOOD, BASIC SKIN CARE ROUTINE
Okay, don't press the back button just yet!
I know you're thinking, well of course! Everyone knows that a good skin care routine can help fight the signs of aging. All those commercials and skin care products exist for a reason, right? But, I just wanted to reiterate that even if you don't use any actual anti-aging products, a no frills routine with a simple cleanser and moisturizer will be better than doing nothing at all. You don't need the latest breakthrough skin care product to prevent aging, as long as you take good basic care of your skin.
Note: Your hands, neck, and eyes (maybe the lips for some people) are usually the first areas that start to show signs of aging. Whatever you do to care for your face, do the same for the rest of your body. Also, pay special attention and be extra careful and gentle to the skin around your eyes because that area is pretty delicate.
No. 6: CHEMICAL (or manual) EXFOLIANTS
People say men tend to age slower (or look younger, however you want to think of it) because they shave, frequently exfoliating their face. For both women and men, exfoliating is definitely an easy way to keep your skin fresh. Pretty much every beauty magazine will recommend exfoliating your skin at least once a week.
You can exfoliate manually, by using a facial scrub or washcloth, or chemically, by using topical acids or retinoids. Exfoliating helps keep your skin looking young by shedding dead skin cells and pushing newer ones to form. Chemical exfoliants, like AHAs, can also minimize the appearance of wrinkles over time. There is also some scientific evidence that long-term AHA use encourages collagen regeneration, repairing the effects of aging.
Even if exfoliating didn't help your skin stay firm or reduce any wrinkles, the process of exfoliation helps you maintain an even and bright complexion, which definitely looks much younger and healthier compared to uneven and blotchy skin.
No. 5: FACIAL PROCEDURES
I was debating whether to rank facial procedures as number one because obviously something like a face lift will "repair" a lot of your aging concerns. In the end, I decided to put it at number 5 simply because while facial procedures have their advantages, they are not practical. Not everyone can afford (or even be willing) to get a face lift.
Procedures like plastic surgery also don't really prevent or treat anti-aging. They more like "mask" the effects of aging because even after you get work done, your face will still continue to age and you will still have to practice good anti-aging prevention.
However, not all facial procedures are invasive. Long-term Botox use actually helps minimize the appearance deep-set wrinkles. Fat grafting can plump up skin and distribute nutrients to previously depleted regions of your face. Facials like microdermabrasion and chemical peels help prevent and repair the appearance of aging by rapidly exfoliating surface layers of the skin and minimizing fine wrinkles. Laser skin treatments can also stimulate deeper layers of your skin to encourage collagen production for better skin elasticity. The downside is, with these procedures, one treatment session usually does not accomplish much as far as anti-aging goes. Monthly treatments every single year would definitely pack a powerful punch, both to your skin and your wallet.
As drastic as the results can be, facial procedures are generally not things you can do for everyday anti-aging maintenance. They are also not the modern-day fountains of youth like so many people erroneously assume. Facial procedures can trip up Father Time for a bit, but he will get right back up soon enough.
No. 4: ANTIOXIDANTS AND OTHER TOPICALS
Antioxidants like Vitamin C, Q10, alpha-lipoic acid, and green/white tea prevent free radicals from damaging your skin. Free radicals are partially responsible for wrinkles, non-gravity defying eye bags, etc. Luckily, free radical fighting antioxidants come in many forms, both external and internal.
Topically, vitamin C is probably the most powerful antioxidant for your skin, scientifically proven to stimulate collagen production and brighten overall skin tone. Green tea is another popular antioxidant, but its effectiveness is debatable. Some people think green tea particles are too big to be absorbed and used by the skin, while others think it's just as good as vitamin C.
Me? I think you're better off drinking green tea than you are putting it on your skin. Actually, you're probably better off drinking white tea because it's less processed compared to green tea and retains more of its nutrients.
Which brings me to internal antioxidants. These are antioxidants found in everyday foods that add extra "wham-pow-boom!" to your fight against aging skin. Aim for colorful foods because color is synonymous with rich antioxidants. Berries, pomegranates, and noni juice are all excellent anti-aging preventative sources. However, regular run-of-the-mill apples, oranges, and lettuce will also be good for your skin.
Besides antioxidants, in many countries, products with EGF (epidermal growth factor) are gaining ground as increasingly popular anti-aging treatments. These growth factors are naturally occurring molecules in the human body that decrease in production with age. By applying EGF topically, you are essentially supplying your skin with fresh resources to renew and regenerate your epidermis.
Note: For more information about other anti-aging skin actives, check here.
No. 3: RETINOIDS
Retinoids are the gold standard for anti-aging treatment products. They help repair and prevent aging and with long-term use, both over-the-counter and prescription retinoids will stimulate collagen production, reducing wrinkles and helping skin stay firm. Retinoids can also help fade sun spots, hyperpigmentation, and acne scars.
However, some people cannot tolerate retinoids on their skin. And that is perfectly fine. You don't need retinoids to prevent aging, but they certainly help in the fight against wrinkly and droopy skin.
I won't get into retinoids too much here because I've dedicated a whole section of this site to the different types of retinoids and how to use them to prevent irritation, but just know that if you are looking for a skin care treatment to help keep your skin firm and youthful, prescription-strength retinoids are your best bet.
No. 2: SUNSCREEN
I bet you thought sunscreen would be number one on this list. While sunscreen is pretty much the best thing you can put on your skin for protection, the number one spot goes to something far more important.
Sunscreen is the number one preventative topical against aging. It prevents more than fixes, but if you think about it, it's much easier to prevent the signs of aging than it is to reverse wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, or anything else that has already set in. Sunscreen protects you from the sun's harmful UV rays and prevents even more damage (and possibly cancer) from happening to your skin.
However, sunscreen is not a magic potion that works as soon as you start using it. Your skin won't age less a week or even a month after consistent and proper sunscreen application. You may see less sun spots, but ultimate sunscreen benefits are cumulative and will show through in the long run.
Take Asian people for instance. Asian women absolutely abhor the sun because white, porcelain skin is the hallmark of beauty (and in the past, pale skin was a sign of nobility). Their extreme avoidance of UVA and UVB rays definitely pays off though because many Asian women (and men) tend to look much younger than their non-Asian counterparts.
So, try to wear sunscreen everyday. Even if you don't see anti-aging results right away, you'll thank yourself when you're older for being so smart and responsible. If you can't wear sunscreen, at least wear floppy hats and giant shades and stay out of the sun during peak hours. And at the very, very least, avoid tanning beds!
No. 1: HEALTHY LIFESTYLE
This number one thing for anti-aging is not very dramatic, but its importance is often understated and overlooked. Living a happy, healthy lifestyle is the absolute best thing you can do to slow down the aging process.
Whatever cream you slap on your face or whatever lasers you zap your skin with, do not and will not add up to the powers of a living a healthy and happy life. Okay, maybe creams help somewhat and lasers a little, but healthy lifestyles not only keep you looking young and feeling great, but they also keep you living (preferably longer), which I'm sure no cream can do.
Eating a well-balanced diet with enough nutrients and fatty acids, drinking plenty of water, not smoking, not drinking too much alcohol, laughing, and not stressing out too much are all good anti-aging habits. Steven Colbert once asked Jeff Bridges how he made "this look attractive," *this* being getting older, and Jeff Bridges said that his mom always told him to "have fun and don't take [work] too seriously."
It's important to not get so wrapped up in physical anti-aging treatments that you forget about internal health, relaxation, and emotional well-being. These are the foundations upon which topical anti-aging treatments build on, so if you have shabby groundwork to begin with, you're not giving yourself a lot to go on for anti-aging prevention.
So, stop and smell the flowers. You deserve it.
ONE LAST WORD...
Keep in mind that even if you do all of the above seven things, it won't guarantee wrinkle-free skin. Aging is a natural process and in fact, it should even be appreciated.
While I don't want to have a face full of deep wrinkles, a few here and there can really add character. I like to think of wrinkles as the wisdom, stories, and memories of your life etched onto your skin. It's important to protect and take care of your skin, but it's also important to appreciate how much it does for you.
Last updated: October 9, 2012
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