The skin is the largest organ in the human body. It covers the entire body – a total area of about 20 square feet and provides protection against a large array of germs, bacteria, pollutants, microbes and other alien substances/elements from entering our bodies. It permits the sensations of heat, touch, and cold and helps to regulate our body temperature.
The human skin has three layers. The epidermis, which is the outermost layer of the skin, provides a waterproof barrier and helps creates our skin tone. The second layer, the dermis, houses tough connecting, hair follicles, and sweat glands. The deeper hypodermis is primarily fat and connective tissue.
The skin’s color is created by specialized cells called melanocytes, which produce a pigment called melanin. Melanocytes are located in the epidermis.
However, our skin is subject to a natural aging process which is not in our control. But there are some factors that cause skin aging which is in our control. These include the sun’s harmful UVA/UVB rays, pollution, and environmental factors, stress, the use of strong chemical products on the skin, and facial skin treatments such as chemical peels/lasers.
Of all the parts of our body, the skin on the face is what we all wish to preserve the most as this determines the aesthetic value of the face and how we look. Hence, delaying facial skin aging is the most important type of skin preservation. With time, we all tend to get visible lines, wrinkles, spots and other imperfections on our face. Also, it is natural for our face to lose some of its youthfulness with age. We notice our skin becoming thinner, looser and drier.
Our genes largely control when and how these changes occur. And the medical term for this type of aging is “intrinsic aging.” This is the kind of skin aging that is not within our control and there’s nothing much that we can do about it.
We can, however, influence another type of aging that affects our skin. The environment around us and our lifestyle choices (diet, habits, and exercise) can cause our skin to age prematurely and at a faster rate. The medical term for this type of skin aging is “extrinsic aging”, which is in our control. By taking some preventive actions and precautions, we can slow down the effects that this type of aging has on our skin and thus maintain normal and healthy skin for as long as possible.
10 ways to reduce/delay extrinsic aging or premature skin aging
Now that we have explained the basic makeup of the skin and the causes of skin degeneration and aging, let’s take a look at how we can delay or reduce as far as possible the premature aging of the skin.
Avoid The Sun
The sun plays a major role in the premature or extrinsic aging of our skin. To help prevent this, we recommend the following tips.
Make sure to protect your skin from the sun every day. Whether you’re having a regular day in the city, even on a cloudy day, spending a day at the beach or running errands, proper sun protection is essential. You can protect your skin by standing under the shade, using an umbrella or scarf, covering up with clothing, and the most important of all, using a good, preferably dermatologist prescribed sunscreen that is broad-spectrum, has an SPF 30 (or higher), and is water-resistant. The higher the SPF, the better it is for your skin and the higher the protection you will get. You should apply sunscreen every day to your entire body and not only those parts that aren’t covered by clothing. Reapply sunscreen on your face every 2-3 hours to ensure maximum protection.
Apply self-tanner rather than getting a tan. As much as you love getting a tan, every time you get a tan, you are prematurely aging your skin. This includes getting a tan from the sun, a tanning bed, or other indoor tanning equipment. All of these emit harmful UV rays that accelerate the rate at which your skin ages.
Ditch Harmful Habits
Whether it’s drinking or smoking, all kinds of harmful habits can contribute to unhealthy and poor skin. Smoking greatly speeds up how quickly your skin ages. It causes facial wrinkles and a dull, sallow complexion. So, if you are a smoker, stop immediately.
Drinking also contributes to the premature aging of the skin. Alcohol contains harmful chemicals and toxins that make your skin age faster, leaving it dry and dehydrated. Drinking can cause facial lines and wrinkles that make you look years older than you actually may be. So as far as possible try to reduce your alcohol intake.
One kind of alcohol that would do wonders for your skin is red wine, so there’s absolutely no harm in indulging in a glass or two of your favorite red wine now and then. Red wine contains resveratrol, a compound that comes from the skin of red grapes. Resveratrol helps reduce the effects of aging and may also slow down the production of harmful free radicals which can damage skin cells and cause skin aging.
Healthy Eating Equals Happy Skin
Consume foods that are skin friendly. Some of the best foods for your skin include yogurt, vegetables rich in Vitamin C, carotenoid, and edibles loaded with Vitamin A and E. These include carrots, red/yellow bell peppers, broccoli, spinach, and tomatoes. Tomatoes are rich in vitamin C. They contain all the major carotenoids, including lycopene. Lutein, beta-carotene, and lycopene have been shown to protect your skin against damage from the sun. They also help prevent wrinkling. Also consider pairing carotenoid-rich foods with a source of fat, such as cheese or olive oil. Fat increases your absorption of carotenoids and hence help in giving you great skin.
Fruits are excellent for your skin too. Foods and drinks rich in antioxidants such as dark chocolate and green tea will also help you maintain healthy and normal skin. Almonds, walnuts, fatty fish (fish containing omega-3 fatty acids – salmon, mackerel, herring), are all excellent foods for your skin. Avocados, sweet potatoes, soy and sunflower seeds are fantastic choices too. So throw out junk and oily foods from your pantry and stock up with these for smooth, nourished, and healthy skin.
Say goodbye to sad skin and hello to ‘fruitful’ skin with the below power-packed fruits!
- Apples contain malice acid that promotes firm, youthful skin.
- Bananas contain potassium that moisturizes and hydrates the skin.
- Kiwis contain vitamin C that enhances skin regeneration and repair and also boosts your immune system.
- Lemons naturally lighten and tighten the skin.
- Papaya contains Papain enzymes that counter free-radical skin damage.
- Pomegranates contain powerful Antioxidants that reverse free-radical skin damage.
- Plums promote digestion and releases harmful toxins from the body.
- Pineapples contain a compound called bromelain, which when applied topically naturally exfoliates the skin.
- Strawberries contain anti-oxidants that help prevent wrinkle formation.
Go Green with Green Tea!
Green tea greatly helps protect your skin from damage and aging. Green tea contains powerful compounds called catechins which work to improve the health of your skin in several ways. Green tea can also help protect your skin against sun damage.
Stress Less, Sleep More
How many times in a day do you say, “I’m so stressed!”? Well, that’s also the number of times you’re internally damaging your precious skin. Stress causes a chemical response in your body that makes the skin more sensitive and reactive. Have you ever noticed that you tend to break out more when you’re stressed? This is because stress causes your body to release hormones like cortisol, which tells your skin glands to produce more oil. Oily skin is more susceptible to acne and other skin problems.
Stress can also make it harder for other skin problems to heal. Stress can aggravate skin conditions like psoriasis, rosacea, and eczema. It can also cause hives and various other types of skin rashes, and even trigger a flare-up of fever blisters. So the less stress you take, the happier and healthier your skin will be.
Sleep, on the other hand, does wonders for your skin. Get at least 8 hours of sleep every day to let your skin get the well-deserved rest it needs. Sleep deprivation can cause the release of cortisol – the stress hormone – which can cause itching and inflammation of the skin or irritant dermatitis, thereby hurting its quality. This itching, in turn, can disrupt your sleep further. Increased inflammatory cells in the body lead to an increase in the breakdown of collagen and hyaluronic acid (which give the skin its glow, bounce, and translucency).
Findings from a number of studies suggest that exercising regularly improves circulation and boosts the immune system. This, in turn, will give the skin a more youthful appearance. Also, when you exercise you sweat, which is extremely good for your skin as sweating releases various toxins from your body.
Have a Set And Effective Cleansing Routine
Apart from keeping your skin healthy and happy from the inside, pampering it a bit from the outside won’t hurt either.
- Cleanse your skin gently. Scrubbing your skin clean roughly can irritate your skin. Irritating your skin accelerates skin aging and can cause it to wrinkle faster. Gently wash your skin to remove pollution, makeup, and other substances without irritating or being harsh on your skin.
- Wash your face at least twice a day especially after sweating heavily. Perspiration, especially while wearing a hat or helmet, irritates the skin. So make sure to wash your skin as soon as possible.
- Apply a facial moisturizer every day. Moisturizers trap water in our skin, giving it a more youthful appearance. You can apply a moisturizer below your sunscreen every morning before you step out.
- Stop using skin care products that cause your skin to burn or sting. When your skin stings or burns, it means that it is irritated. Irritating your skin can make it look aged.
- Use a good night cream/lotion/serum. When it comes to skin products, make sure they contain the three most important vitamins that your skin needs to repair, revive and regenerate. These are ACE – Vitamins A, C, and E. Before you retire to bed every night cleanse your skin thoroughly and then apply a good lotion, cream or serum depending on your skin type. Massage it well into your skin. The product will work its magic while you sleep and have you wake up to glowing, radiant, and fresh-looking skin in the morning.
Follow this complete guide to defy aging and maintain perfect looking skin forever