For millennia, humans have been searching for the key to eternal youth, with written evidence of the sought after (and sadly mythical) “fountain of youth” dating as far back as the 5th century BC. We appreciate the wisdom and experience that comes with age, so what is it from our youth that we continuously grasp for? For many, it is the youthful glow and dewiness of younger skin. We have all done things to contribute to the aging of our skin, and while there is no magical basin or miracle serums to fully reverse the signs of aging, there are plenty of things we can do to maintain or slow down the aging process going further. Aging is an inescapable privilege of life, and laugh lines and dark spots can be becoming because they tell the story of years gone by; but there is no reason we can’t make efforts to preserve the healthy skin we have. Here are a few steps you can take to make sure the less desirable attributes of aging don't creep up prematurely.
1. Limit Sun Exposure
Who doesn’t love the pleasant glow of sun-kissed skin? Your skin, that’s who. Sunburnt, tanned, and even “sun kissed”, are all visible signs of damaged skin cells. Exposure to harmful UV rays, whether natural or artificial (tanning beds) causes our skin cells to age prematurely and show visible signs of aging by way of wrinkles, leathery skin, and liver spots - not to mention direct links to skin cancers.
It’s true that direct contact with sunlight allows us to naturally produce vitamin D, which is a crucial vitamin for maintaining bone density and proper cell function, but excess exposure will cause unnecessary harm. Depending on skin tone and age, a few short minutes of exposure is enough sun exposure per day, while a dietary supplement is always a recommended alternative source of Vitamin D. Using moisturizers with SPF, and other forms of protections like sun hats and UV blocking clothing are simple ways to enjoy the outdoors while still protecting your skin.
2. Use a Gentle Cleanser
Built-up grime and pollutants prevent our living and breathing skin cells from getting the oxygen they need to function and replicate efficiently. Our skin cells, just like every cell in our bodies, have a life cycle of only a few weeks before they make copies of themselves and then die off to make way for the next generation of cells to take over. Clean and healthy cells produce clean new cells, so gently cleansing our skin, especially our faces, is an important daily step to maintain youthful skin.
See Valeria's go-to healthy skin routine in her latest get-ready-with-me
routine vlog below:
Though harsh scrubbing can irritate your skin -which accelerates the appearance of aging - gently washing helps to remove pollution, makeup, and other substances without irritating your skin. Using a gentle cleanser that agrees with your skin type is paramount. If your cleanser is stinging or burning and leaves your face red and raw, you’re likely doing more damage than good. All skin reacts differently to products but this cleansing foam and this Mushroom Milk cleansing oil are two products we love.
3. Invest in a Good Moisturizer
Although there aren’t any miracle creams or serums that can reverse years of wear and tear, adopting a consistent skin care routine centered around a good moisturizer can keep skin cells plump and healthy much longer. Moisturized skin doesn’t just look younger and healthier than dry, flaky skin, it actually is healthier. Products with retinoids, vitamin C, and peptides work with our body’s natural defenses to fight the signs of aging like loose skin and wrinkles. Moisturizers with retinoids treat sun damaged skin, vitamin C protects the skin's surface from damaging debris and pollutants known as free radicals, while products with peptides help to stimulate the body’s own collagen production, which is the protein responsible for keeping our skin tight and plump (Mayo Clinic).
4. Re-think Smoking
There are a plethora of reasons to avoid smoking due to the infamously negative way that nicotine affects our bodies - including our skin. If the links to lung cancers and heart disease aren’t enough to deter you, perhaps cigarettes’ ability to prematurely age and wrinkle our skin will. Nicotine constricts our blood vessels which reduces the amount of blood flow to our vital organs, including our skin. Our skin cells are aerobic, which means they require oxygen to survive.
Oxygenated blood is the main source of oxygen for all of our internal organs (inner layers of skin included), so restricting the blood supply to our cells is nothing short of a death sentence. When our skin cells stop getting the blood supply they so desperately need, they start to slow down, reproduce less efficiently, and as a result we show the tell-tale signs of aging with dark spots, wrinkles, and loose skin. Luckily, because our skin cells reproduce fairly quickly, quitting smoking in the long term will allow our cells to recover and exhibit noticeable improvements to complexion and skin health.
5. Exercise Daily
Consistent exercise can benefit our skin in really interesting ways. Breaking a sweat daily has been proven to moisturize the skin, kill harmful bacteria on the surface, and deep clean our pores - all contributors to “anti-aging” (MyDermConsult). Increased heart rate from moderate to vigorous exercise will also increase blood flow and thus, nutrient supply to our skin cells.
Sweating and increased blood flow may seem like obvious benefits, but exercise may also stimulate our own bodies’ ability to keep skin young and reduce sagging, regardless of what age you adopt an exercise regime. As part of our natural aging, the outer layer of our skin starts to thicken and dry out, while the inner layers conversely start to thin, resulting in loose skin. But exercise seems to slow down this aging process by slowing down the drying and thinning of our skin layers, resulting in youthful looking skin much longer into life (Goop).
6. An Old Hollywood Trick
We’ve long looked to our celebrity inspirations for beauty tricks and tips. Old Hollywood actresses are perhaps the best source for non-commercial skincare hacks - they didn’t have the resources we do now and they’re legendary in their timeless beauty (not to mention breaking into a boys club). All this to say, take it from Joan Crawford who is rumored to have favored the ol’ trick of dunking your face into a bowl of ice cold water in the morning to close up her pores and keep everything tight.