Kick these habits, and your skin will naturally age way more slowly.
With constant commercials for new anti-aging products and red carpets full of slew of 70-something-year-old celebrities who barely look a day over 40 (um, what’s up with that?), you might feel a load of pressure to invest in these pricey creams, lotions, and powders—not to mention procedures like Botox or plastic surgery—to look younger.
But before you press the panic button, take a hard look at your everyday habits. Chances are, you might be able to tweak your lifestyle to prevent premature aging. And research shows these certain key lifestyle habits can legitimately turn back the clock. Take one 2009 study of 186 pairs of identical twins. Researchers found that lifestyle choices greatly impacted skin health and signs of aging, despite the women’s identical DNA. Twins who smoked or got more sun exposure, for example, looked significantly older than twins who never lit up and slathered on the sunscreen.
So, here are a few tips for what you should do (and NOT do) to keep your skin healthy and 30-something-ish, according to Kaveh Alizadeh, MD, chief of plastic and reconstructive surgery at Westchester Medical Center and New York Medical College.
Always use sunscreen and wear sun protective clothing when possible. In the now-classic twin study, the siblings with more sun exposure, lack of sunscreen use, and a history of outdoor activities had an older appearance than their identical siblings who did not. (Here’s the derm-approved way to apply sunscreen.)
Quit smoking. You already know smoking leads to more wrinkles, but the actual numbers may motivate you to kick butt once and for all: Every 10 years of smoking adds about 2.5 years of aging to your face. Giving up cigarettes improves circulation so more oxygen can get to the skin. Ready to quit? Try one of these strategies to quit smoking for good.
Exercise. A good workout is another way to improve circulation and bring oxygen to the skin. Plus, the 2009 study of twins found that those with a higher body mass index appeared older than their sisters, and the higher BMI often led to dark and patchy skin discoloration. (Here are 7 more health benefits of exercise.)
Keep stress levels low. Twins who had been through stressful life events, such as divorce, appeared at least two years older than their twin, according to the 2009 study.
Apply retinoids. Dermatologists have used retinoids, a derivative of vitamin A, to treat a variety of skin conditions like acne, psoriasis, and general skin aging for decades. Retinols, a lower-concentration form, are available OTC at drugstores; retinoic acid, a higher-concentration form that works more effectively, is available by prescription.
Get your beauty sleep. Not only do you want to make sure you get enough sleep every night, but pay attention to how you’re sleeping. If you’re a side sleeper, make sure you alternate sides during the night. “And please, please avoid sleeping on your stomach,” says Dr. Alizadeh, “because that can lead to a characteristic pattern of lines on the face.”
Dr. Alizadeh is a board-certified plastic surgeon and the chief of plastic and reconstructive surgery at Westchester Medical Center and New York Medical College.
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When it comes to anti-aging,
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there was a great recent study that
actually compared two identical sisters.
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There's a huge difference between
these identical twins that
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are genetically similar, but had different
exposure from an external source.
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The extrinsic factors
are things like the sun.
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So the best way to be able to avoid
sun damage is to apply sunscreen.
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Another factor is smoking, and that the
sister who smoke compared to the sister
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who did not, appeared to have aged as
much as 15 years over a period of time.
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Getting rid of the smoking will help
improve the circulation to the skin.
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Also, if you exercise,
you're improving circulation to the skin.
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And when you do that,
you're bringing oxygen to the skin,
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which helps the metabolism of the skin and
allows it to maintain it's youth.
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Other factors that we know about
are something like stress.
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There are a number of studies that have
shown meditation, which helps relieve
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stress, or other mechanisms that allow
you to combat stress, will help.
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Well, the best way that we know of
scientifically to stimulate your skin
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is by applying a derivative of vitamin A,
known as the retinoids.
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The way this works is by allowing
your skin to turn over faster, and
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as it turns over faster, you get newer,
healthier, more youthful looking skin.
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The retinols have a minimum of impact, but
of course they're found over the counter.
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The retinoic acid is the more
effective and stronger type of vitamin
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A derivative that would have to
be prescribed by your physician.
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And believe it or not,
there is such a thing as beauty sleep.
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And so it's important to sort
of circulate yourself on the bed
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by moving from side to side.
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And please, please avoid sleeping on
your stomach, cuz that will always
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lead to a characteristic
pattern of lines on the face.
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Of course, you have a number of
great remedies that are available,
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including Botox and
fillers and peels and lasers.
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But I promise if you follow these steps,
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you will not need my help
in the years to come.
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- Skin Care and Aging. Bethesda, MD. National Institute of Aging, 2020 (Accessed on December 30, 2020 at https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/skin-care-and-aging)
- Kwon HS, Lee JH, Kim GM, Bae JM. Efficacy and safety of retinaldehyde 0.1% and 0.05% creams used to treat photoaged skin: A randomized double-blind controlled trial. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2018 Jun;17(3):471-476
Guyuron B, Rowe DJ, Weinfeld AB, Eshraghi Y, Fathi A, Iamphongsai S. Factors contributing to the facial aging of identical twins. Plast Reconstr Surg. 2009 Apr;123(4):1321-1331.