People are eternally on the quest for the proverbial fountain of youth. While dermatological procedures can really make a difference, healthy habits can go a long way in helping you maintain a youthful appearance. Below are some of the best anti-aging secrets to help stop premature aging.
1. Protect yourself from the sun. As a song from the late ’90s urged, wear sunscreen.
If you like having a golden tan, keep in mind that your skin will pay for it in the future. Wrinkles, fine lines, and age spots are all part of the aging process, but the sun exacerbates it through photoaging, the “premature aging of the skin caused by repeated exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation), primarily from the sun but also from artificial UV sources,” according to the Canadian Dermatology Association (CDA). This is normally more obvious in areas that get more sun exposure, such as your face and the back of your hands.
Make sunscreen a part of your daily routine, even on cloudy days. Choose one that protects you from both UVA and UVB rays, which penetrate different layers of your skin. Also limit your sun exposure by avoiding it between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., and cover up when possible (wear a hat when you’re outdoors, for example, to protect your face from direct sunlight.)
2. Eat right. There really is something to the saying “You are what you eat.” Eating excessive amounts of sugar and junk can really start showing on your skin (not to mention have other undesirable effects on your health—and your waistline). Load up on fruits and vegetables to get antioxidants that fight free radicals that speed up aging.
Some of the skin-saving foods you can add to your diet: Spinach, which is said to help improve skin elasticity; red bell peppers and other Vitamin C-rich foods, which can protect your skin from sun damage; and fatty fish like salmon, which contains omega-3 fatty acids that help hydrate cells.
Eating right doesn’t just slow down skin aging, but it can also keep your brain young and prevent you from getting those “senior moments.” Omega-3-rich walnuts and flax oil, blueberries, and curry may help keep dementia at bay. Meanwhile, foods rich in potassium, such as grains, can keep your heart healthy.
3 Get enough sleep. It’s not called “beauty sleep” for nothing. One study conducted by a beauty brand found that poor sleep led to increased signs of skin aging such as fine lines and uneven pigmentation, and seemed to weaken the ability of skin to repair itself. But as anyone who’s sleep-deprived knows, those eyebags and dark circles certainly don’t contribute to a youthful appearance!
4 Exercise. Researchers at McMaster University in Ontario say that exercise may release substances that slow down the skin aging process. While study results aren’t conclusive, that healthy glow after a good workout is a good reason to get moving, not to mention the happy hormones released during a workout and all the other health benefits of physical activity.
5. Have a skin-care routine. If you don’t have a skin-care routine, now is the best time to start. Cleansing and exfoliating can rid your skin of dirt, oil, and dead skin cells that may be causing dullness. Moisturizing can help keep skin feeling smooth and supple. Also hydrate from within by drinking enough water.
Make sure you take your skin type into account when choosing skin-care products. And yes, even those with oily skin need moisturizer—just choose something that is water-based instead of oil-based.
6. …and don’t forget your hair! Turning gray from fewer pigment cells isn’t the only change that hair goes through as you age. Hair may also become drier as oil production slows down, and may become thinner and more brittle. Hair products can help address specific concerns but avoid those with harsh chemicals as they may only damage your locks further. If you’re losing hair at an alarming rate and it doesn’t run in your family, consult your doctor. This might be caused by other health issues that need to be addressed.
The real secret to graceful aging doesn’t lie in expensive treatments or procedures but in cultivating healthy habits. Staying positive and having a lot of self-love can also give you a radiance that no beauty product can ever achieve.