It’s not uncommon to be concerned about the signs of aging skin.
These include wrinkles, sagging, and discoloration. While there’s no proven treatment or strategy to completely reverse skin aging, there are some things that you can do that will benefit the health of your skin.
Watch what you eat
First and foremost, focus on what you put into your body just as much as what you put on your skin. With regard to nutrition and aging, one phenomenon that’s been well studied is the formation of advanced glycation end products and their effect on your skin.
Advanced glycation end products accumulate as we age and explain a lot of the diseases of aging, not only wrinkling and decreased elasticity of the skin, but also cataracts, heart disease, and diabetes.
Glycation occurs when a sugar molecule like fructose or glucose binds to a protein. This generates an advanced glycation end product that’s inflammatory and can damage collagen in the skin.
Advanced glycation end products can either be produced endogenously, as a result of high blood sugar levels, or consumed exogenously in the foods that we eat. These end products crosslink the collagen and elastic fibers in our skin and lead to wrinkles and decreased elasticity, as well as sagging and discoloration.
Unfortunately, advanced glycation end products are highly stable and almost impossible to eradicate.
Common sources of advanced glycation end products include packaged crackers, brown colas, sugary donuts and, unfortunately, barbecue grill meats. Endogenous glycation can occur as a result of high blood sugar levels from eating a lot of sugary or processed foods. These inflammatory advanced glycation end products are absorbed by the gut. It’s estimated that glycation of collagen in the skin occurs at about 3.7 percent per year. Diets high in processed, sugary foods can increase the rate of glycation.
Reduce Sun Exposure
Besides watching your diet, be aware that ultraviolet radiation can increase the rate of glycation of collagen in the skin.
Ultraviolet radiation is the number one culprit in aging our skin. Sun exposure damages elastin and causes loss of collagen synthesis. This leads to drooping of the jaw line, wrinkles, discoloration, and thickening of the skin. But most importantly, beyond cosmetic concerns, ultraviolet radiation causes skin cancers.
Of course, you can’t just stop going outside.
Make sure you apply a broad-spectrum, SPF 30 or higher sunscreen to your face and other exposed areas. Don’t forget to apply sunscreen to your neck and ears, as these are common sites of aging as well as pre-malignant skin cancers. Donning a broad-brimmed hat and long sleeves with a tight weave can also provide protection from ultraviolet radiation. Exercise in the early morning and avoid going outdoors between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., as this is when the sun is most intense.
Consider a Retinoid Cream
In addition to daily sunscreen use, probably the best-studied cream for anti-aging is a retinoid. A retinoid is a vitamin A derivative that boosts collagen production, increases skin cell turnover, decreases oil production, breaks up clogged pores, and can improve the overall texture of your skin. Ask your doctor or health care provider for a prescription.
When starting a retinoid, it’s important to follow the directions carefully. Irritation is a common side effect. Start with a small amount and be patient as you ease yourself into consistent use.
Retinoids should be applied to a freshly washed face in the evening before bedtime, as they can become unstable when exposed to UV light. Apply a moisturizer following application of the retinoid to decrease irritation of the skin. Remember, topical retinoids are not recommended for women who are pregnant, nursing, or contemplating conceiving.
Consider Cosmetic Procedures
Finally, be smart about what cosmetic procedures you choose. And as I said, while nothing can completely reverse the clock on aging, these choices can help slow down the rate. First of all, try a peel. As you age, your skin turnover rate decreases. Getting a peel can help exfoliate the skin and make it appear brighter and more lustrous. A chemical peel is a deeper process that does the same thing and may also boost collagen production.
You may want to find out if you’re a candidate for laser resurfacing. It’s a relatively new procedure that actually increase collagen production and improve the look of aged skin. Resurfacing can improve skin texture while minimizing wrinkles, discoloration and old acne scars.
Keep It Simple And Be Consistent
In terms of anti-aging skincare, consistency is key, not cost or quantity of products.
In addition to starting every day with a protective sunscreen, make sure you wash the makeup off of your face at night. As we sleep, the skin turns over, renewing and restoring itself from the cares of the day. As we age, the turnover rate slows, so don’t increase the work your skin has to do by leaving a thick layer of makeup on.
You don’t need an expensive, over-the-top skin care regimen to take care of and promote youthful skin. You just need a healthy diet, consistent sun protection and cleansing habits, and maybe a retinol cream to boost collagen production. These simple, organic methods can reduce the effects of aging on your skin.