Skin Smarts

Tips to help your skin age gracefully

woman with healthy skin

Changes to the skin are among the most visible signs of aging. These occur over time for a variety of reasons, such as heredity, smoking, sun exposure, stress, obesity, gravity and even sleep position.

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Throughout our lives, our skin regenerates approximately every 27 days. But as we age, we sweat less, leading to increased dryness. Our skin also becomes thinner and loses fat, so it looks less plump and smooth. Older skin also can take longer to heal when injured, and underlying structures — veins and bones in particular — become more prominent.

Fortunately, there are things we can do to reduce the signs of skin aging.

Sun exposure

We’ve all heard it, but the best way to keep skin healthy is to stay out of the sun and use sunscreen daily to prevent further deterioration. While wearing sunscreen won’t undo existing sun damage, your skin sometimes can repair itself. And remember, the higher the SPF number, the more protection from harmful rays.

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Staying out of the sun can make a tremendous difference when it comes to eluding wrinkles, age spots and dryness. Make an effort to avoid the sun between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., when the rays are the strongest. And don’t think sunscreen isn’t needed on cloudy days; UV rays pass through clouds.

Subcutaneous support

Many of the skin changes we notice as we age take place under the skin. The fatty tissue between skin and muscle on our faces begins to break down, making the skin appear slack and our eyes sunken. Skin begins to show the effects of gravity, and so, too, do the tip of your nose and your earlobes — which may lengthen. Your sleeping position also may encourage lines and wrinkles. While this loss of skin elasticity occurs naturally, you can discourage it by faithfully applying moisturizer.

Dry skin

To keep your skin supple, apply moisturizer after bathing. This locks in moisture from the water and prevents it from evaporating. Older adults may notice drier skin in the winter when humidity is lower. Suggestions for combating winter skin include bathing in warm or tepid water, limiting your use of soaps and deodorants that contain drying ingredients and avoiding scratchy fabrics like wool, opting instead for softer cottons.

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Follow these tips for a lifetime of healthy skin

  • Avoid sun exposure and wear sunscreen.
  • Keep your skin fresh by washing and moisturizing daily.
  • Drink plenty of water, and eat a healthy diet.
  • Don’t smoke.
  • Get plenty of sleep.

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