In case you missed yesterday’s post, the Anti-Aging Strategies Recap provides some helpful background for these tips. The Recap is a 1-page summary of everything I’ve talked about so far, and takes about 5-10 minutes to read.
This list is meant for those of you who are just starting to learn about anti-aging or want to keep things simple.
21 Anti Aging Tips
PRODUCTS YOU NEED
1. A sunscreen with Zinc Oxide. Make sure you see ‘Broad Spectrum SPF’ on the product label (if you’re in the U.S.)
Zinc Oxide is the best ingredient for blocking both UVA and UVB. If you don’t like the way this ingredient looks or feels on your skin, then read this for alternatives.
Vitamin C is an essential antioxidant in skin care. Here are the anti-aging benefits of Vitamin C.
Consider a separate Vitamin C serum if you do NOT have sensitive skin. A serum provides a more concentrated amount of Vitamin C than a moisturizer. Avoid Ascorbic Acid (this page explains why). If you have sensitive skin, you may still be able to use a Vitamin C serum. It depends on the form of the Vitamin C.
Vitamin A is the main weapon against aging. There are several forms of Vitamin A. The most effective form that doesn’t require a prescription is Retinol. If you have sensitive skin, don’t use Retinol – look for Retinyl Palmitate or Retinyl Acetate (more gentle forms). You can read this to understand the different derivatives of Vitamin A.
Examples: Grape Seed, Green or White Tea, Licorice, Niacinamide, Lycopene, Alpha Lipoic Acid, Coenzyme Q10. Here is a list of some popular antioxidants. Botanicals, such as flowers, herbs, fruits, and vegetables, are common sources. They’re all over skin care.
Examples: Oat, Green Tea, Chamomile, Licorice, Aloe, Arnica, Mugwort, Milk Thistle. Here is a list of anti-inflammatory ingredients.
Chronic, low-level inflammation is a long-term source of aging. Putting anti-inflammatory ingredients on your skin daily, even if you don’t have sensitive or irritated skin, counters this chronic inflammation.
It is important to maintain a strong skin barrier function. An intact barrier holds in water better and keeps out irritants. When the barrier is damaged, skin is more vulnerable to inflammation, a major source of aging.
Lipids strengthen the barrier. Here is a list of lipids commonly used in skin care.
Lipids are even more important if you have dry skin and are over 40. We need more lipids as we age, since lipids in the epidermis decrease significantly after 40.
Remember, dry means lack of oil, dehydrated means lack of water.
If you’re oily, read this to learn more about How Oil Can Help Oily Skin.
Skin needs constant hydration, since water evaporates from the skin continually. Dehydrated skin, especially around the eyes, wrinkles more easily. To hydrate skin, you need humectant ingredients, which attract and hold onto water. The most common sources are: Hyaluronic Acid (aka Sodium Hyaluronate), Propylene Glycol, Butylene Glycol, Panthenol, Sodium PCA, Algae, and certain Amino Acids.
Obviously, drinking water is good for you. But just drinking a lot of water isn’t enough for skin. You need humectants to hold onto water that is lost through evaporation. Here are tips on how to hydrate skin with a toner.
The skin around the eyes is the thinnest on the body. Therefore, it loses water easily. Don’t let your eye area get dry. Skin wrinkles more easily when dry. If it does, apply more cream during the day.
Look for a cream that is rich in lipids, which strengthens the barrier function, or silicones, which create an occlusive layer over skin (prevents water loss).
Here is a list of lipid ingredients. Common silicones are Methicone, Dimethicone, and Cyclomethicone.
It is impossible to get the daily requirement of Vitamin E from food alone, so a supplement is a boost for skin.
If you have the time and motivation, you can add Vitamin E to a moisturizer. But because Vitamin E oxidizes, mix only what you need for at most a week’s supply. Keep your mixture away from heat and light, in a dark area such as a cabinet or drawer.
Make sure the fabric is a tight weave. Not straw, which is ‘porous’ and allows UV rays through. Darker colors are more protective.
Remember that you still get UV rays in the shade. UV reflects off pavement, sand, and snow.
11. Stay out of the sun!
The UV rays from sun are responsible for over 80% of the signs of skin aging. Preventing damage is so much easier than correcting it. By far the easiest way to slow aging is to minimize your time in the sun.
That said, of course it is not realistic or desirable to stay completely out of the sun. You do need sunshine for Vitamin D, and life would not be nice without our enjoyment of sunshine. So when I say “stay out of the sun,” I mean don’t sunbathe, avoid intense sunshine, stay out of the sun during peak hours of the day (10-2), and wear sunscreen when you are outside.
You need to wear sunscreen when you are outside. The ‘aging ray’, UVA, passes through clouds and window glass. UVA causes wrinkles & sagging, along with spots and discoloration.
Many people make the mistake of skipping sunscreen when it is cloudy. Sunscreen is not just for sunny days or activities at the beach. UVA rays are just as strong on a cloudy day. (UVB, the ray primarily responsible for burning, is what you notice on a sunny day.)
This seems so obvious, but it is harder to put into practice than it seems. Covering up is not always convenient or comfortable, but it does make a difference.
You can buy sun protective clothing made of UPF fabrics, which are treated with UV absorbers.
The skin on the neck loses firmness and becomes loose, which is difficult to correct. The decollete pigments easily. People with sun damage typically have dark discoloration and spots in this area.
If you wear perfume or cologne on your neck or decollete, it is especially important to wear sunscreen there. Artificial fragrance can cause photosensitivity and increase pigmentation.
It’s easy to skip sunscreen when sunscreen is not within reach. Touch-ups are needed too. Sunscreen loses its efficacy after a few hours. Also, most people have a tendency to not apply enough.
It is highly destructive to skin. Tanning beds utilize UVA light, which is 12 times more damaging than being in the sun. The damage makes skin thick and rough, and creates deep and coarse wrinkles. This is an example of environmental aging, which looks different from genetic aging (where skin becomes thinner and wrinkles appear as fine lines).
Excess sugar will attach to collagen in skin, cross-linking it. Cross-linking hardens collagen and makes skin lose its firmness. It also leads to age spots.
Even if you’re not a smoker, secondhand smoke (whether from cigarettes or cigars), will launch a destructive free radical chain reaction in your skin that lasts for at least a day. Smoke is a massive accelerator of aging. I cannot emphasize enough how damaging smoke is. So step away from smoky areas.
Stress is a major accelerator of aging too. Cortisol, a stress hormone, thins the skin. Sleeping helps control it. Cortisol levels are higher when you lack sleep. More on stress here.
Water-soluble antioxidants don’t last long. They need to be replenished constantly. So try to get antioxidants into each meal or snack.
Antioxidize first thing in the morning. Start your day with something high in Vitamin C, such as a fresh orange or lemon juice in water (room temperature).
For Ergothioneine, a powerful antioxidant that will boost cellular energy. That energy is needed to repair DNA damaged by free radicals. Mushrooms are the richest natural source of ergothioneine. Eating mushrooms is the easiest way to obtain it. It’s not easy to find in skin care products.