As you age, changes in your body occur, and your internal processes begin to slow down. These changes contribute to how your body functions and how your body appears. Your skin and your face are often the first indicators of aging, but there are things that you can do for younger-looking skin such as changing your diet, wearing your sunscreen, staying hydrated, and even plastic surgery.
Eat a Healthier Diet
Healthy diets are important for a number of reasons. When you’re younger, you might not worry as much about what you eat, but as you age, your nutritional needs change. According to health professionals, there is a correlation between your diet and your skin. Poor eating can result in acne and premature skin aging. Eating healthy doesn’t necessarily mean strict limitations or depriving yourself of your favorite foods — it is more about eating a balanced diet; this includes changing your eating habits to include food that promotes skin health. Healthline provides a list of the foods that can help you look younger, including:
- Extra virgin olive oil;
- Green tea;
- Fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, herring);
- Bone broth;
- Dark chocolate.
Maintaining a healthy diet can be difficult at times, but it is important for your skin health. Start out by making small changes, then transitioning into larger changes as you get used to your new diet.
If you are someone that struggles to stay hydrated, your skin may be at risk as a result. Studies show that water intake affects human skin hydration and biomechanics — specifically for individuals with low daily water consumption. Water recommendations can vary based on gender, age, size, and the weather, but WebMD provides the following water consumption recommendations:
- Men: 13 cups (around 3 liters) of fluid per day;
- Women: 9 cups (a little over 2 liters) of fluid per day, 10 cups if they are pregnant, and 12 cups if they are breastfeeding;
- Children/teenagers: Between 6 and 8 cups per day.
Water plays a significant role in your skin’s health, and without proper hydration, your skin may appear duller, wrinkles may stand out, and pores can appear more prominent. However, water is not the only liquid that helps to hydrate your skin. A National Library of Medicine study on lemon balm leaf extract shows that this extract (that can be found in various teas) helps improve skin elasticity and mitigating skin tissue damage.
Prioritize Your Sleep
Sleep is essential for overall health and lack of sleep can affect your appearance. A study on the effects of sleep deprivation and facial appearance found that the sleep-deprived study participants had more hanging eyelids, more red eyes, more swollen eyes, dark circles under their eyes, paler skin, more wrinkles/fine lines, and more droopy corners around their mouths.
The National Sleep Foundation provides the following sleep recommendation ranges for all ages:
- Newborns (0-3 months): 14 to 17 hours per day;
- Infants (4-11 months): 12 to 15 hours per day;
- Toddlers (1-2 years): 11 to 14 hours;
- Preschoolers (3-5): 10 to 13 hours;
- School-age children (6-13): 9 to 11 hours;
- Teenagers (14-17): 8 to 10 hours;
- Younger adults (18-25): 7 to 9 hours;
- Adults (26-64): 7 to 9 hours;
- Older adults (65+): 7 to 8 hours.
The CDC provides tips for better sleep on their site, but if you are someone who clinically struggles with sleep, it may be a good idea to consult a sleep specialist.
Exercise has a number of health benefits and studies show that a lifetime of regular exercise helps slow down aging. According to a WebMD article on exercise for healthy skin, when you exercise you increase blood flow throughout your body. When you increase blood flow, the oxygen and nutrients nourish and carry away waste products from skin cells — leaving your skin healthier.
The American Heart Association provides the following physical activity recommendations:
- Adults: 150 minutes per week of moderate to intense aerobic activity, or 75 minutes per week of vigorous aerobic activity. They also recommend spending less time sitting, and adding additional workouts or time spent working out;
- Children: Children ages 3 to 5 should be physically active throughout the day while children ages 6 to 17 should get at least 60 minutes per day of moderate/vigorous physical activity (primarily aerobic).
Try to get in the habit of being active at some point in your day. It may be helpful to sign up for a gym membership, hire a personal trainer, or simply reach out to a friend to become your fitness accountability partner.
Although sun exposure is a great way to boost vitamin D levels, it is important to avoid too much of it. Sun and skin have a complicated relationship since human bodies were designed to make use of sunlight, but too much exposure can lead to less skin elasticity and more wrinkles. Skincare measures, especially during the summer, should always be emphasized. Studies show that sunscreen use helps prevent skin aging. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends that individuals going outdoors should use SPF 15 or higher every day when outdoors. Sunscreen should be applied to all exposed areas 30 minutes prior to going outdoors and reapplied every two hours. You should be extra careful on hot summer days, but also when it is overcast. Some other sun safety tips to prevent premature aging include:
- Finding shade;
- Covering up with clothing;
- Wearing a hat;
- Wearing sunglasses.
Use a Retinoid
Retinoids are a chemical compound of Vitamin A. Harvard Health provides the following points on how retinoids reduce wrinkles:
- Retinoids minimize fine lines and rinks by upping the production of collagen;
- Retinoids improve blood vessel production to stimulate and improve skin color;
- Retinoids help fade age spots;
- Retinoids soften rough patches;
- Retinoids can take anywhere from three to six months to begin working;
- Retinoids can cause skin dryness and irritation, so it is important to hydrate and only use the product every other day;
- Retinoids make your skin more sensitive to the sun, so be sure to use sunscreen in addition to retinoids when outside.
There are retinoids that require a doctor’s prescription, but there are many options available over-the-counter as well. Be sure to shop around and research products to make sure they have good reviews and that they are the right product for you.
Don’t Be Afraid of Plastic Surgery
As you age, your skin becomes less taut and less elastic, which can cause you to appear older. Plastic surgery is another option for helping you prevent signs of early aging. Some examples include:
- Facelift: Facelift techniques help correct sagging tissues surrounding the face, neck, jowl, and cheeks;
- Eyelid surgery: Eyelid surgery — also known as blepharoplasty — surgically removes excess fat or skin from your eyelids and the areas surrounding your eyelids;
- Laser skin resurfacing: Laser skin resurfacing uses light energy to target damaged skin cells. Laser skin resurfacing is customizable to treat a number of skin types and skin conditions.
If your face isn’t the only part of your body that is aging, you can also take advantage of other options such as a tummy tuck, arm lift, breast lift, or butt lift. All of these surgeries can help manage loose or sagging skin.
Limit Alcohol and Caffeine Intake
There are drinks that actually increase dehydration and alcohol and caffeinated drinks are both on the list. Alcohol and caffeine are both diuretics. While some individuals can benefit from diuretics (e.g. individuals with high blood pressure, or kidney dysfunction), diuretics make the body lose fluids, and this can lead to skin dehydration.
Individuals that want to keep their youthful appearance should reduce or completely eliminate alcohol and caffeine intake. If you are someone who really enjoys either beverage type, be sure to drink water with your alcohol or caffeinated drink to help your body stay hydrated.
Smoking is bad for your health, and it can speed up the normal aging process of your skin. According to the Mayo Clinic, smoking causes wrinkles and the following facial changes:
- Crow’s feet;
- Pronounced lines;
- Uneven skin complexion;
- Grey skin tones;
- Deep creases;
- Eye puffiness;
- Thin lips.
A WebMD study shows additional ways smoking affects your looks — it includes:
- Sagging skin;
- Age spots;
- Hair loss;
- Stained fingers;
- Damaged teeth and gums.
Smoking is extremely addicting and it can be difficult to quit. Below are some tips for ways to resist tobacco cravings:
- Look into nicotine replacements (vapes, nicotine patches, nicotine gum, etc.);
- Avoid triggers (drinking, high-stress situations, etc.);
- Remind yourself of the consequences of smoking;
- Ask for support;
- Distract yourself (workout, start a new hobby, meditate, etc.);
- Avoid “just one” and quit cold turkey.
Wash and Moisturize Your Skin Daily
Washing your face is important for your skin — and properly washing your face includes moisturizing. Staying hydrated is important, so it is important to note that when you wash your face, your skin becomes dried out. Moisturizing your skin after washing is important because it helps stimulate blood circulation and new cell generation that keeps the skin looking young. Use the following tips for how to wash your face properly:
- Wash your face every night (at minimum). Note that it is a good idea to wash your face every morning and every night;
- Avoid using hot water, as it can be damaging to your skin. Use lukewarm or cold water instead;
- Research what facial cleansers and moisturizers are a good fit for your skin;
- Avoid washing your face more than twice a day;
- Use moisturizer directly after washing your face.
Relax Your Face
Facial movements such as frowning or smiling use muscles and repeating those movements often may lead to the formation of wrinkles. Not smiling, frowning, or squinting can prove difficult, but it is important to relax your face whenever possible. Facial tension is generally caused by stress, so below are some remedies for facial tension/stress relief:
- Facial exercises;
- Hot showers/baths;
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy;
- Biofeedback training;
- Anti-anxiety medication.