In a society driven by consumerism, the quest for perfect skin revolves around the latest product promising miracles in a bottle or through procedures. While many of these products and treatments mask the problem, they are typically only a temporary solution. But what if there was another side to the story? One that we didn’t want to hear because it holds us accountable. What if a large portion of premature aging lies within our daily habits? Whether we want it to be true or not, the choices we make each day affect our skin. From seemingly common indulgences to inadequate daily routines, we are wreaking havoc on our complexion. The good news? We have the power to slow the inevitable aging process. Here is how…
What not to do: Live a Sedentary Lifestyle
A study conducted in the American Journal of Epidemiology suggested that a sedentary lifestyle shortens telomeres faster. Telomeres are a DNA-protein structure that protects our chromosomes and genetic information. In the natural aging process, telomeres shorten and eventually the cell dies. While the process may be inevitable, a lack of exercise only accelerates it.
What to do: Engage in 30 min of physical activity per day. It may not be possible to hit the gym often, but even going for a daily 30 min walk or run can be extremely beneficial. Don’t feel like it? Let the research be your motivation. Exercise can stimulate collagen production; that is, the protein that provides structure and elasticity to the skin. Meaning that frequent physical activity will prevent muscle atrophy and skin from sagging. So next time you feel the urge to skip out on that walk, think about the long-term effects on your skin.
What not to do: Consuming Unhealthy Foods
The saying goes, you are what you eat. Consequently, while the unhealthiest foods may be the tastiest, they come at a price. Processed foods contain unhealthy fats and sugars, and an excess of refined sugar causes sugar molecules to bind to proteins in the blood, which reduces elasticity and contributes to wrinkles and premature aging. Inflammation is associated with aging processes, including damage to the skin and elastin fibers.
What to do: Incorporate vegetables, fruits, and foods with the necessary vitamins and minerals that your body needs. We emphasize the word “YOUR” body because every individual is different. Some may benefit from foods high in iron while others may have enough iron in the body, but instead are calcium deficient and need to eat more foods with a higher source of calcium, etc. Regardless of your body type, you can’t go wrong with following the general rule of thumb: Half of your plate should be comprised of vegetables. The more, the better to ensure you receive all the necessary nutrients to keep your skin glowing from the inside out.
What not to do: Live by the Saying “It’s 5 O’clock Somewhere”
It may be 5 o’clock somewhere, but are a couple of cocktails worth it? Research suggests that alcohol has detrimental effects on the brain, body, and skin. In 2019, a study published in the Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology found that heavy alcohol use was associated with shrinking blood vessels, increased upper facial lines, and under-eye puffiness.
What to do: We don’t expect you to go cold turkey and cut out alcohol entirely from your life. Rather we suggest limiting your alcohol intake to one drink a week and eventually only on special occasions.
What not to do: Get Inadequate Sleep
The old wife’s tale holds some truth to it. It’s called Beauty Rest for a reason. A study conducted in the National Library of Medicine suggests that those who consistently have poor quality sleep have increased signs of skin aging, fine lines and reduced elasticity.
What to do: Don’t eat for 2-3 hours before bed and avoid blue light exposure. Be sure to sleep in a dark, cool room and aim for 8 hours of sleep each night.
What not to do: Take no Breaks from Blue Light
A recent research study in the National Library of Medicine found that Blue Light penetrates into the layers of the skin.
What to do: We understand that your job might require you to spend 8 hours a day on a screen, but during the hours of the day where you DON’T have to be on a screen, try and limit that exposure. Whether that means buying a physical copy of a book instead of reading on your iPad or going for a walk instead of scrolling on your phone in the evening. The goal is to find balance, not remove blue light from your day, as that would be impractical.
What not to do: Avoid Sunscreen
Research suggests that UV rays cause premature facial aging of the skin through wrinkles and changes in pigmentation.
What to do: Apply SPF on your face (before makeup) and opt for UV-protected sunglasses to avoid wrinkles caused by frequent squinting from the sun.
What not to do: Keep Smoking
This one might be obvious, but there is always somebody that might need the reminder. Smoking ages skin unlike any other habit.
What to do: Try Nicotine gum to ween off cigarettes. Trust us, your skin, teeth, and lungs will thank us.
What not to do: Allowing Stress to Consume You
Board certified dermatologist Amy Wechsler asserts that stress releases the hormone cortisol which breaks down collagen, leading to inflammation, sagging skin and wrinkles.
What to do: Manage stress. Find what works for you. Whether it be yoga, meditation, reading, prayer, dance, tennis, hockey, find your hobby and ensure you spend a small portion of your day engaging in it.
Jackie Marson | Contributing Writer