Aging happens. And if you’re like so many other adults, you’re probably wondering if there’s anything you can do to prevent your skin from showing signs of aging.
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According to dermatologist Melissa Piliang, MD, it’s one of the most common questions dermatologists get asked. But, she says, there’s good news. In fact, there are lots of things you can do to help prevent aging skin. You just have to commit to them.
Here are seven ways you can take matters into your own hands and reduce the toll time has on your skin.
It’s the no. 1 way to prevent wrinkles. Want color? Try spray tan or a bronzer. “Apply sunscreen every single day as part of your morning routine,” says Dr. Piliang. “You need it even when walking to your mailbox, or from your car into the store.”
Avoid fragrances and any products that aren’t gentle on your skin. “Irritation causes dryness and more damage,” says Dr. Piliang. Instead, find moisturizers with ceramides that replenish your skin, and alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) that exfoliate and soften it.
Have a sweet tooth? Partial to pasta? Sugar and refined carbs will spike your blood sugar, triggering the release of insulin. Insulin causes inflammation in your skin and all over your body. “Sugar binds to the elastic and collagen fibers that make skin look plump and youthful. Damage to these fibers means less support for your skin — and more wrinkles,” explains Dr. Piliang.
Environmental pollutants — like soot and car exhaust fumes — can also damage your skin. If you’re exposed to pollutants every day, walking down your street, look for parks and green spaces to stroll.
Over the years, not getting enough sleep can damage your skin. “Again, you want to avoid the inflammatory bomb caused by insulin,” says Dr. Piliang. Do your best to get six to eight hours of sleep per night. Try getting up early every day and going to bed at the same time every night.
Smoking causes havoc beyond your heart and lungs, damaging your skin, too. “Smoking makes the little blood vessels in skin constrict,” explains Dr. Piliang. “Over time, the collagen and elastic fibers are damaged, and your skin gets more wrinkled.”
“Eating a good diet with lots of healthy fats from olive oil, avocado and nuts will nourish your skin,” says Dr. Piliang. Your skin loves antioxidant-rich fruits and veggies, and lean proteins, too. And be sure to hydrate your skin with lots of water.
“The more of these healthy habits you wrap into your lifestyle, the more your skin will reflect them,” Dr. Piliang emphasizes.