Young woman looking at herself in the mirror

Growing old is unavoidable, looking old isn’t. You can look 10 or even 20 years younger as long as you get rid of the culprits that are responsible for aging your skin.

Sun Damage

Young woman applying sunblock cream at the beach

Nothing ages the skin faster than sun damage. Harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun is the primary cause of visible skin aging, and 80 percent of visible aging on the face. Chronic sun exposure can give rise to wrinkles, crow’s feet, discolored spots, and loose skin. Skincare products and certain treatments can reverse the aging effects of UV exposure. However, prevention is a better way to keep your face and skin looking young. Avoid basking in the sun, and if you must, wear a hat. Wide-brimmed hats provide enough shade to protect your face and neck from direct sunlight and accompanying UV radiation. Make it a habit to wear sunscreen. It gives you a couple of hours of protection and can block more than 95 percent of UV.   

Dry Air

This can make your skin look ashy, dull, or even cracked. Arid air can sap the oil from your face, leaving it dry and making wrinkles more prominent. Update your skincare regimen with moisturizers that can combat the arid air. Opt for creams instead of lotions, as creams have significantly higher oil content. Stay clear of heavy exfoliants as they can remove the oil in your skin. However, you should exfoliate once or twice a week so that you can get rid of dead skin cells on your face. Use a moisturizer before going to sleep. This way, you stay moisturized through the night and wake up with glowing skin. If the climate is particularly dry, it might be time to get a humidifier. Humidifiers artificially raise the amount of moisture in a given room, protecting you from the effects of the arid air outside. Drink lots of water and up your intake if the weather is particularly hot or dry.

Young woman applying moisturizer on her face

Smoking

Smoking reduces the elasticity of your skin, making it sag or crack. Every cigarette you puff reduces your body’s oxygen levels, giving your skin a dull orange or gray pallor. Particulates from cigarette smoke can enter your lungs and get absorbed into the blood, constricting your blood vessels and further reducing your body’s ability to circulate oxygen. The toxins in cigarettes also introduce free radicals into your body, damaging the collagen and elastin found in your skin. Collagen and elastin are fibers that contribute to your skin’s elasticity and strength and low levels of the two make your skin more prone to cracking, wrinkling, and sagging. Nicotine can also make you more prone to psoriasis, acne, and other inflammatory skin diseases. The effects of smoking on your body are largely reversible. Once you stop, it only takes three to four weeks for your skin to recover its collagen and elastin levels.   

Sun, dry air, and cigarette smoke — just knowing what causes your skin to age and taking action to stop them will help maintain your youthful looks.