Genetics, environmental factors, and lifestyle habits influence how early the skin starts losing its youthful appearance. Aging is a natural process and cannot be stopped. However, there are things you can do to prevent premature aging skin.
Let’s look at common factors that accelerate the aging process, and what you can do to longer enjoy your glowing skin.
What Is Prematurely Aged Skin?
Prematurely aged skin is when your skin appears older than your actual age. For example, some people have wrinkles in their 20s, appearing older than they are. Others develop them in their 50s.
If you are unhappy with your skin’s condition, you can employ various techniques to improve its appearance.
Premature Skin Aging Signs
There is not an exact age when a certain sign of aging appears, but most of them develop in our late 20s or 30s. If they happen earlier than that, we’re dealing with premature aging.
Here’s what to look out for:
- Dry, dull skin
- Itchy, flaky skin
- Loss of skin elasticity, sagging skin
- Loss of youthful facial fat
- Fine lines around the eyes, lips, on the forehead
- Thinning lips
- Spider veins on the face and body
- Veiny, wrinkled hands
- Hyperpigmentation around the chest
Why Is My Skin Aging Prematurely?
As we grow older, the biological processes in our body slow down, giving way to signs of aging. Each person’s genetics dictate when this happens. However, certain environmental and lifestyle factors can accelerate these processes and make us look older than we are.
Sun and Tanning Beds
Exposure to UV rays is the number one cause of premature aging. Sunrays are vital in helping us absorb vitamin D, but 10-20 minutes of sun exposure are enough for our necessary daily dose. Any exposure to ultraviolet radiation over that time leads to DNA damage and skin collagen degradation—the substance that keeps our skin firm and gives it shape.
Note: Learn more about the importance of collagen for the skin and how to boost collagen production via lifestyle changes, natural supplements, and non-invasive treatments.
Our genes dictate whether we develop aging signs in our 20s or 50s. Apart from cosmetic interventions, there is not much we can do to postpone biological or intrinsic aging.
If intrinsic aging occurs in childhood, it’s a sign of a rare, progressive genetic disorder called progeria.
Not only does smoking damage lungs, but it’s also bad for the skin. It activates enzymes that destroy the skin’s elasticity and limits the amount of oxygen our skin receives. The results are sagging skin, wrinkles, and loss of pigmentation.
A glass of alcohol here and there won’t affect how you age, but heavy drinking may cause changes to facial skin such as discolored and dull skin, spider veins, and loss of facial skin volume.
Facial Movements and Expressions
Repetitive facial movements like smiling and squinting will leave fine lines on our face. That’s because our skin loses its elasticity over time and cannot spring back in place after a face muscle contracts to make an expression.
Some studies suggest that high-sugar, high-fat, and high-salt diets are related to premature aging skin. Excess sugars cause inflammatory damage and the accumulation of advanced glycation end products (AGEs), which accelerate the skin aging process.
Chronic psychological stress causes our body to produce excessive amounts of the major stress hormone, cortisol, which increases DNA damage and aggravates the signs of skin aging.
Not enough or poor quality of sleep has a negative effect on our skin, causing fine lines, reduced elasticity of the skin and uneven coloration. Even one night of poor sleep quality can accelerate the aging process.
Incorrect Use of Cosmetics
Not removing make-up before bed or using cosmetics with high chemical content can cause skin discoloration, redness, thinning, dryness, and make it look older.
How to Prevent Premature Aging of Skin?
Fortunately, there are many things you can do to “pause time” and retain a fresh look for as long as your genes will allow. Don’t let laziness be your excuse for not preventing premature skin aging.
Protect Your Skin from UV Rays
Since UV rays are the biggest contributor to skin aging, always wear sunscreen outside.
Use cosmetic products that already have an SPF 30+. For extra protection, wear hats and shirts with long sleeves. Don’t forget sunglasses, because the combination of sun rays and repetitive squinting will speed up the process of wrinkle formation around your eyes.
For many people, this is easier said than done. However, it may help if you factor in the rewards for quitting smoking: Smoother, firmer skin, and healthier lungs.
Alcohol inhibits absorption of healthy nutrients (such as magnesium, vitamin B12, zinc) and may speed up the process of skin aging, so avoid drinking in excess.
Have a Healthy Diet
Since sugar and carbs are not ideal for premature aging skin prevention, try a diet rich in fruits and vegetables. Antioxidants in fresh produce help slow down the aging process. Drinking eight cups of water is also necessary to keep the skin hydrated.
Avoid Over-Repetitive Facial Movements and Expressions
Of course, you shouldn’t stop smiling, but try to acknowledge all unnecessary facial movements you make during the day, such as wrinkling your forehead and squinting at the sun.
It’s proven that regular, moderate exercise improves our health in general, and this applies to the skin as well. Exercising promotes better blood circulation, faster waste elimination, and sends more oxygen to the skin. In combination with a balanced diet, exercising gives the skin a more youthful, fresher look.
Properly Care for Your Skin
If you’re using make-up, remove it before bedtime. Wash your face in the morning, evening, and after intense workouts. Don’t use cosmetic products with lots of heavy chemicals. Choose natural moisturizing products that hydrate the skin. For best results, exfoliate once or twice a week. Removing dead cells will rejuvenate your skin.
Read our guide about rejuvenation skin products to learn more.
Acquire Healthy Sleeping Habits
Try to get at least 7-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep during the night. It may take some time to form the habit of sleeping properly. Use sleep-inducing techniques such as meditation, herbal teas, or popular lamps for aiding sleep.
Manage Your Stress
There are many strategies for managing stress. Find what works for you: Yoga, jogging, meditation, long walks in nature, reading, dancing, socializing. Maintaining optimal levels of the stress hormone will improve your skin condition.
Aging is as certain as taxes, but the good news is that premature skin aging is preventable. There are A LOT of things you can do to avoid the early onset of wrinkles, sunspots, and hollow cheekbones. You’ll need to invest time and show persistence, but it’s a small price to pay for a radiant, youthful-looking skin well into your 40s or 50s.