Image: Emilian Robert Vicol
One of the most common misconceptions we have when it comes to aging is that it’s solely affected by time. But studies reveal that there are several other factors that affect the aging process. These include exposure to certain environmental factors, lifestyle, nutrition, and stress.
Sun exposure accounts to many cases of premature skin aging. Long-term exposure to the sun’s UV rays lead to wrinkles, pigmentation, loss of skin’s elasticity, and skin dullness. Study shows that multiple exposure to the UV rays lead to an increased level of matrix metalloproteinases, a family of enzymes, causing damage to the skin’s collagen.
Collagen is what gives the skin structure and strength. When it’s damaged, it can lead to skin sagging and wrinkling.
Pollution is another thing that affects the skin’s aging. In a study conducted, it shows that airborne particles are in direct proportion to the signs of aging. Increase in soot also leads to an increase in pigment spots and wrinkles. This can be due to the presence polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) found in the nanoparticles in the air. These particles produce reactive oxygen species (ROS) which can have the same damaging effect as the UV rays.
Since 1970s, studies have been conducted to find out the effects of smoking on the skin. These studies show that smoking is one of those factors that can premature skin aging. It can disrupt collagen production and causes damage to the elastic fibers.
Excessive Alcohol Drinking
An occasional drink or two won’t cause harm but when one resorts to drinking more than one glass per day, then that’s where the problem begins.
Alcohol is known for its dehydrating effects on the skin. So the more alcohol you drink, the drier your skin looks.
One of the things that you should watch for when eating is the amount of sugar in your food or drink. It’s because sugar can attach itself to proteins and lead to creation of new molecules. These new molecules cause damage to the surrounding proteins including collagen and elastin.
Whether it’s due to work or personal problems, chronic stress can make you look older. When you’re stressed, the nutrients for your skin are redirected to your vital organs like the heart, brain, and lungs to cope with the situation. If this happens frequently and for too long, the skin can look dry and dull.
Delaying the Effects of Aging
Learning the different factors that affect skin aging can help you identify ways to delay the effects of it on your skin. Below are some the effective ways to do it:
1. Alway wear sunscreen
Exposure to UV radiation isn’t just the culprit for cases of skin cancer but also for premature skin aging. Wearing sunscreen is one easy yet effective way to delay the effect of aging on the skin. In a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, it shows that those who regularly apply sunscreen are less likely to have increased skin aging after 4.5 years.
2. Stay hydrated
This may sound so simple but many of us are trading water for soda. This poses a problem as hydrating yourself with soda is completely different with water. Soda is loaded with sugar and other additives that do not just contribute to the growing obesity problem but as well contribute to premature skin aging.
Water, in most parts of the world, is free. It hydrates your skin and helps improve its elasticity without the added guilt (it’s zero calories).
3. Get sufficient sleep
Getting sufficient sleep provides damaged cells with sufficient time to heal themselves. This could not happen if deep sleep is disrupted or if you’re getting less than the required number of sleeping hours.
Avoiding heavy meals in the evening, limiting TV watching or gadget use at least 30 minutes before bedtime, establishing sleeping routine, and learning to manage stress are ways to help get better sleep each night.
4. Establish skin care routine
Having a skin care routine helps in delaying skin aging. However, it can only be that effective if you’re choosing the right products based on your skin type and existing needs of your skin.
5. Move your facial muscles
More women are now getting into facial exercise. It is based on a premise that facial muscles are like other muscles in the body. If you’re not ‘working them out’ regularly, they can sag and make you look older than your actual age.
Compared to surgical facelift, doing facial exercise won’t cost you that much and is not an invasive procedure. You can do it at home or with the guidance of an expert.
Your skin is a reflection of what you eat. If you want to look like as if you stop the hands of time, then eating healthy should not just be an option but your way of life. Some of the foods that can keep you young-looking include shiitake mushrooms, oatmeal, grapefruit, and walnuts.
7. Quit smoking
Smoking doesn’t just predispose you to lung cancer and other chronic diseases; it also damages your skin, causing premature skin aging. If you want to keep your youthful glow, then quitting smoking is a good choice.
Your age may be the result of time but how your skin looks as you age depends on how you take care of it. These 7 tips may not assure you of wrinkle-free skin but they can definitely help achieve that young-looking and glowing skin.