It’s a well-known and unfortunate fact that we can’t avoid aging, but we can definitely take steps to help prevent future skin damage and even help reduce the appearance of some of the damage that may have already occurred. Check out these 6 factors that may be accelerating your skin aging and what you can do to help your skin:
1. Sun exposure. The majority of skin aging results from the amount of sun our skin is exposed to throughout our life. The sun breaks down collagen fibers in our skin, causing it to wrinkle and sag; it can also cause age spots to occur. To help diminish the signs of skin aging, use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher along with a comprehensive sun protection program including wearing sun protective clothing, hats, sunglasses, and avoiding the sun between the hours of 10am – 2pm.

2. Smoking. Whether you smoke or spend time around someone who smokes, your body is being depleted of Vitamin C, which is a key ingredient for helping defend against the visible signs of skin aging. In addition, smoking greatly increases skin dryness and wrinkles.

3. Sleep. During sleep, body tissues, including the skin, are renewed and repaired. Prolonged lack of sleep can accelerate signs of aging, including skin aging. Also, sleeping on your face in the same position for too long can cause it to wrinkle. To help maintain healthy-looking skin, get a good night’s sleep on your back or switch positions, if possible.

4. Stress . Prolonged emotional stress increases the secretion of stress hormones, which accelerate aging. Stress also causes repetitive frowning, which can trigger facial muscles to uphold that expression over time (i.e. a frown line). To help aging skin, be aware of your stress level and try to vary your facial expressions throughout the day. Manage stress with meditation, yoga, exercise, or other relaxation techniques.

5. Dry skin. Some people have inherently drier skin, but it can also be caused by windy and low temperatures. These environmental factors may not only cause skin dryness, but can also cause wrinkling. Keep dry skin in check by drinking enough water and using a moisturizer to help keep the skin hydrated.

6. Diet . A diet high in sugar and processed carbohydrates can age your skin by damaging collagen and elastin, leading to wrinkles and sagging. As they say, “You are what you eat”…and “you” includes your skin! To help keep your skin as young-looking as possible, eat a diet rich in antioxidants such as fruits and vegetables, which have been shown to reduce the appearance of wrinkles and create a more youthful-looking complexion. Antioxidants can help fight free radicals-tiny, unstable molecules that have been shown to cause damage at the cellular level.
In addition to these pointers, it’s important to find a skin care routine that fits your needs and lifestyle. As always, talk to your skin care physician about what’s best for you and your unique skin care needs.