We all want to live long, interesting lives—and prevent the evidence from showing up on our faces. At the same time, most of us do things every day that can cause premature aging. The good news: You can turn back the years with a few easy changes to your daily routine. Here’s what the experts recommend. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don’t miss these Sure Signs You Had COVID and Didn’t Know It.
During sleep, several body systems restore and repair themselves—including the skin. According to a study published in Clinical and Experimental Dermatology, women who reported having poor quality sleep experienced 30% better “skin-barrier recovery” than women who got poor sleep, and had “significantly lower intrinsic skin aging.” How much sleep is ideal? Experts like the National Sleep Foundation recommend seven to nine hours every night.
Applying a facial moisturizer daily can help combat fine lines and wrinkles. “Moisturizer traps water in our skin, giving it a more youthful appearance,” explains the AAD. And wearing one with sunscreen can protect your face from photoaging—lines, wrinkles and freckling—caused by the sun. Choose one that’s at least 30 SPF and protects against both UV-A and UV-B light.
Alcohol dehydrates the skin and causes inflammation, which can show up on your face as flushing, swelling and broken capillaries. Chronic overuse of alcohol can lead to premature aging. To prevent that, and to reduce your risk of cancer or heart disease, experts recommend no more than two drinks a day for men and one for women.
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Not drinking enough water can lead to dehydration, which can show up on your face in the form of dryness, crow’s feet, fine lines and dark circles. According to Harvard Medical School, the average healthy person needs four to six cups a day, but you should check in with your doctor about how much is right for you.
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To prevent premature skin aging, you should exercise most days of the week. “Findings from a few studies suggest that moderate exercise can improve circulation and boost the immune system,” says the American Academy of Dermatology. “This, in turn, may give the skin a more youthful appearance.”
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“Eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables may help prevent damage that leads to premature skin aging,” says the AAD. “Findings from research studies also suggest that a diet containing lots of sugar or other refined carbohydrates can accelerate aging.” Yep, sugar can actually cause wrinkles: According to a study published in the journal Clinical Dermatology, when high levels of glucose or fructose—a.k.a. sugar—are consumed, they bind to amino acids in collagen and elastin, the compounds that keep our skin plump and youthful, damaging them and actually preventing the body from repairing them.
“Smoking greatly speeds up how quickly skin ages,” says the American Academy of Dermatology. “It causes wrinkles and a dull, sallow complexion.” The toxins in cigarette smoke cause blood vessels to constrict, preventing oxygen and nutrients from getting to the skin. According to one study published in JAMA, researchers found that cigarette smokers had three times the wrinkles of nonsmokers. And to get through life at your healthiest, don’t miss: This Supplement Can Raise Your Cancer Risk, Experts Say.