Skin aging is one of the most natural occurrences. As we grow old, we begin noticing fine lines and wrinkles on our face; it’s aging, just like the rest of our body, and unless you’re an advocate for cosmetic procedures, there isn’t much that you can do to prevent this natural progression of things. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, the medical term for this type of aging is “intrinsic aging. However, not all skin-aging is created equal, and there is such a thing as premature skin-aging and, unlike with natural aging, which is beyond our control, there are a number of things you can do to salvage and protect your skin from it.
The Culprits and the Damage they Cause
Before we can dive into remedies and prevention, we need to shed some light as to how and why premature skin-aging happens in the first place – uncover the culprits. Of course, the first one and luckily the one we have most control over is sun exposure. While moderate exposure to the sun is actually beneficial because of body's production of vitamin D, overdoing it can come with severe consequences. The ultraviolet rays from the sun penetrate into the skin. There, they damage the elastic fibers that keep skin firm, allowing wrinkles to develop. Sunlight is also responsible for age spots, leathery and dry skin, and in the worst case scenario skin cancer. Still, many people are familiar with this main and most notorious culprit, but what are some other damaging factors?
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, smoking is definitely on the list. In their words: “Smoking greatly speeds up how quickly skin ages. It causes wrinkles and a dull, sallow complexion.” There are also several skin-crimes we tend to commit that contribute to skin-aging and one of them is not removing makeup before sleep. As Dr. Eric Schweiger states, this practice can result in clogged pores that can lead to acne breakouts.
Broad Spectrum is More Important
The one thing all dermatologists can agree on when it comes to skincare and protection is the importance of using sunscreen products. One common misconception is that SPF (at least 30 but not higher than 50 because sunscreens with SPFs greater than 50 provide only a small increase in UV protection) is protection enough. The truth of the matter is, broad spectrum sunscreen is a much more effective protection tool. According to Mayo Clinic: “There are two types of UV light that can harm your skin — UVA and UVB. A broad-spectrum or full-spectrum sunscreen protects you from both.” This is exactly why broad or full-spectrum sunscreen is more important than SPF, as it stands for sun protection factor, a measure of how well sunscreen protects against UVB rays while UVA protection isn't rated.
Another popular belief is that that summer is the only season during which we should be protecting our skin. It’s high time we shatter that myth - your skin needs protection all year long. As Dr. Bruce E. Katz, the director of JUVA Skin & Laser Center in New York points out the sun’s harmful rays are strong despite what the thermometer says and contributes to wrinkles and skin cancer risk.
Now, going back to the prime sun exposure season, the summer, Dr. Maryam Zamani is here with highly helpful tips on proper application of a broad-spectrum sunscreen. According to her, the right amount is 2-3 tablespoons of cream for every zone, and it’s highly important to reapply every two hours. For people whose skin has a tendency to burn quicker, even more frequent application is recommended. Now, bear in mind that there are 11 zones in the body: the head, the right arm, the left arm, the upper front torso, the lower front torso, the upper back, the lower back, the upper legs and the lower legs. Still, many people forget that going to the beach is not the only time they are exposed to the sun. Whenever you leave the house your skin, particularly that of the face is under attack, and it’s therefore highly important to apply a moisturizer with a high SPF daily and keep the skin safe. One of the wonderful summer options is a daily mattifying moisturizer by Ultraceuticals which doesn’t only provide necessary hydration, but contains an SPF of 30, and you certainly don’t want anything lower than that.
Be Kind to Your Skin
Always, always remove your makeup before heading to bed, double-cleanse and apply a retinol night cream. Aside from broad-spectrum and SPF, retinol is a vitamin A derivative many dermatologists swear by. Dermatologist Dr. Emmy Graber tells us that retinol serves to boost collagen production (reducing wrinkles and preventing fine lines), speed cell turnover (evening out discoloration and brightening skin tone) and unclog pores. While you get your beauty sleep, retinol is working overtime to prevent and undo the damage caused during the day. Also, for some additional rejuvenation, indulge in relaxing and effective rose baths as recommended by Traditional Chinese Medicine expert, Paz Vizcarra.
Take the Natural Route
It’s always better to be safe than sorry, but if you do notice age spots, or solar lentigines, previously mentioned as one of the results of sun-exposure, react quickly and use natural resources. Although you can go the bleaching and laser treatment route, if you can rely on nature, it’s always preferable to do so. There is a great number of natural products you can use to treat these spots. One of the best is definitely castor oil. Simply apply the oil on the affected area, leave it for about 30 minutes and then wash off with lukewarm water. Another great home remedy hides in the main ingredient of hummus – chickpeas. Just mash a handful of chickpeas into a paste (after having soaked them in water overnight), apply on the affected area and keep until it’s dry. Wash off with just water and you’ll surely notice that the spots have begun to fade. As these are home remedies, they are safer, which means you can use them as much as you want and not worry as much about side effects.
Organize Your Time and Get Your Beauty Sleep
Beauty sleep is not just an expression, it’s the real deal. Skin creates new collagen while you sleep and that in turn brings about fewer unwanted wrinkles. Michael Breus, PhD states that if you adopt a healthy sleep routine, which entails no less than seven hours, your face will definitely show it.
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