Aging is a natural (and beautiful) sign of your time spent here on earth, and there is nothing wrong with sporting those narrative laugh lines and crow’s feet — literally everyone gets them, whether they show them off on social media or not. But it’s also OK to want to slow the process of aging in whatever ways might be possible, especially if it means a boost in confidence. When it comes to aging gracefully, it’s not always about genetics and a good frame of mind. Picking the right anti-aging ingredients, loading up on antioxidants, and minimizing stress can all have a huge impact on your physical appearance. Women who have aged well employ a number of habits in their daily lives to shelve the effects of time.
Almost everything in your environment will have an impact on your skin, not just the well-known culprits like UV rays. Things like air pollution, oxidative stress, your sleeping and eating habits, and your mental health will all make themselves known on the skin in one way or another. So how do you make sure they show up in a good way? Drinking plenty of water, nourishing your body, and creating healthy sleeping habits will all help keep your skin smooth and firm — something all women who age well can attest to.
While skin is a main focus when people want to learn how to age well, there are plenty of other tricks for gracefully aging — and what matters most is that you feel comfortable in your skin. Here, 14 habits to keep you looking and feeling younger for longer.
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Be Diligent With Your Skin Care Routine
Look for daily skin care products that include peptides, which work to stimulate collagen production and prevent fine lines. Start incorporating an eye cream into your regimen stat.
Board-certified cosmetic dermatologist Dr. Mariana Vergara, NP-C, tells TZR that some of the most important anti-aging ingredients include niacinamide, peptides, salicylic acid, hyaluronic acid, zinc, and vitamins A, C, and E. “Vitamin A functions as a powerful antioxidant that inhibits DNA damage, thymine dimer formation, inflammation, and oxidative damage,” she says of using retinol. “It protects against photodamage.” The other active ingredients help keep the skin moisturized, speed cell turnover, and protect against oxidative damage.
The skin around your eyes is the thinnest and has very few oil glands, which is why crow's feet can appear early in life. Ingredients like caffeine and nicotinic acid work to reduce puffiness, lines, wrinkles, and under-eye circles.
Be Mindful Of Your Everyday Makeup
Powder foundations and other heavy makeup products can settle into wrinkles around your eyes and mouth, accentuating any fine lines. “Obviously, as all of us age, our collagen production slows down and so does oil production, so that can definitely make a difference on how makeup wears on the skin,” celebrity makeup artist Neil Scibelli previously told TZR. “I’d suggest using cream-based products like cream blushes and cream highlighters to bring that instant hydration and radiance.”
Swap face powders for tinted moisturizers, and opt for cream formulas to provide coverage and color without drying your skin — which can cause wrinkles.
Remove Your Makeup Every Night
Your skin kicks regeneration into high gear while you’re sleeping, so don’t clog it up by not removing your makeup before going to bed. “It is very important to remove your makeup before cleaning your skin every night,” Vergara tells TZR. “During this cell turnover, new skin cells are formed on the surface while your skin sheds old skin cells. Not removing the makeup at night can lead these dead skin cells to trap dirt and pollutants into the skin, increasing free radicals, which can cause DNA damage and, over time, collagen degradation.” This can make the skin appear dull and lead to premature aging. Vergara says one of the best ways to remove makeup is with grapeseed oil. Remember to be very gentle with it, especially around the eyes.
Use Plenty Of Sun Protection
Sunscreen shields your skin from harmful rays linked to everything from discoloration to cancer. Be sure to apply a wide-spectrum SPF 50 (targeting both UVA and UVB rays). “The most important thing is to reapply it every three to four hours,” says Vergara. “There are physical and chemical sunscreens. Chemical sunscreens are absorbed into the skin, producing free radicals that can age your skin. They are more protective when it comes to sweating or swimming. Physical sunscreens contain active minerals like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide; they form a barrier on the skin to protect from UV damage.” Since you can never be protected enough, double up with a wide-brim hat.
Outsmart Hair Changes
Hormone changes — especially during menopause — can cause hair to become thinner and more brittle. “Our hair ages just like we do, and hair thinning can start at any age, even in teenage years, and in some cases much younger than one would expect,” Lars Skjoth, the founder and head of research and development at Harklinikken, previously told TZR. “Most hair thinning can be attributed to an interaction between genetics and hormones,” he said.
Use nourishing shampoos and conditioners to keep strands strong and soft, and opt for a flexible brush to prevent damage while styling. Additionally, supplements like biotin may work to keep hair full and healthy for people with biotin deficiencies, according to a 2017 review by Skin Appendage Disorders.
Find A Hairstyle That Complements You
Did you know that the right haircut can make your face appear younger? Seriously! Women who age well are in on this little secret: It’s all in a good haircut. Soft side-swept bangs conceal forehead wrinkles, and a bob that hits mid-neck distracts from sagging.
“Longer hair covers and frames certain imperfections and is usually associated with youth,” celebrity hairstylist Cervando Maldonado told TZR in 2017. “No matter the cut, less volume around the face and height in the crown are very [flattering], and highlights can warm up your complexion.”
Maintain A Bright Smile
As time passes, teeth may turn yellow or gray from coffee, tea, and red wine stains. Cosmetic dentist Dr. Victoria Veytsman, DDS, previously told TZR, “When we talk about anti-aging and youth, a bright healthy smile can take years off of a face.” With regular use of teeth-whitening products, you can effectively counter signs of aging by combating those pesky stains and maintain a youthful-looking smile.
Stress can age you by taking a toll on your brain and even increasing blood pressure, according to a 2017 review published in EXCLI Journal. Stress is also known to disrupt sleeping habits, which can cause premature signs of aging. Try taking up a weekly yoga or meditation session to boost your mood and calm your mind.
Keep Vices To A Minimum
Wondering how to age well? Be mindful of what you’re putting in your body. “Cigarettes trigger a biochemical change that can accelerate the aging process,” Vergara tells TZR. “Smoking depletes the body of vitamin C, a key antioxidant that keeps your skin plump and moist.” Smoking (even secondhand smoke) triggers the breakdown of collagen, which can lead to loose, saggy skin. The puckering action made when taking a drag from a cigarette also causes deep wrinkles around the mouth.
Excessive alcohol can trigger rosacea outbreaks and exacerbate fine lines, acne, and wrinkles, all of which instantly make you look older. “Alcohol is a vasodilator that dilates all the small vessels, creating a flushed appearance,” Vergara explains. “It is a diuretic that dehydrates your body. When your skin is dehydrated, fine lines are more noticeable. It is always important to drink plenty of water when we drink [alcohol].”
Large amounts of caffeine can cause dehydration and increased anxiety — neither of which is great for your body and skin, so consume coffee and soda in moderation.
Since you are what you eat, your diet makes a huge difference in how you age and feel. The antioxidants and vitamins in fruits and vegetables can keep your skin looking younger. “Research has found that eating lots of plant foods, especially leafy greens, improves circulation and brightens the skin, giving you a healthy, youthful glow,” Whitney Tingle, co-founder of health-food meal delivery company Sakara Life, told TZR in 2017. “Plus, the fiber in fruits and vegetables helps prevent blood sugar spikes, which can damage collagen and ultimately cause wrinkles.”
Resveratrol, a powerful antioxidant found in grapes, has even been shown to help prevent premature aging, according to an Oncotarget study. Omega-3 fatty acids offer many anti-aging benefits: “[They keep] skin hydrated, plump, and supple … long-term, the Omega-3s in the skin barrier keep skin looking young,” Dr. Aanand Geria, M.D., FAAD, a board-certified dermatologist, previously told TZR. “Chia seed oil is known to be high in fatty acids like Omega-3,” he added. So pop those seeds or cook up a seafood dinner throughout the week to eat your way to younger skin.
Get Plenty Of Sleep
They don't call it "beauty sleep" for nothing! Seriously, people who age well know that you can sleep your way there. While you snooze, your body releases a growth hormone that helps restore collagen and elastin, the essential building blocks of young, healthy skin. According to a 2017 review in Maedica, sleep deprivation is linked to reduced skin elasticity, fine lines, and uneven pigmentation. Poor sleep quality and decreased sleep duration have also been shown to increase your risk of obesity, heart disease, and diabetes, according to a 2011 study in Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition & Metabolic Care.
Be Gentle On Your Skin While You Sleep
In addition to sleep quality and duration, you could potentially be aging your skin while you sleep in an entirely different way. A 2016 Aesthetic Surgery Journal article found that wrinkles may be “due to skin distortion from mechanical compression during sleep.” Even while you’re getting a good night’s sleep, you could be pushing and pulling on your skin for extended hours, leading to potential wrinkles and skin sagging. If and when possible, try to adjust your sleeping habits so you’re not constantly tugging on the same side of your face all night, every night.
The material you’re sleeping on could also have an effect on your skin’s moisture. Read: Your cotton pillowcase is sucking the hydration from your skin. Instead, try a silk or copper oxide pillowcase.
Give Yourself A Regular Facial Massage
You know your body needs exercise to stay youthful and healthy, but what about your face? "If you think of the sagging face as being the result of gravitational pull on the facial muscles, one way to combat this (particularly on the mid-cheeks, jowls, and smile line) is to regularly exercise these muscles," board-certified dermatologist Dr. David Goldberg, M.D., J.D., previously told TZR. There are certain facial massage techniques and exercises you can do that involve using your hands or tools like stone rollers or gua sha to help sculpt the face.
Drink Plenty Of Water
If skin hydration is key to warding off premature fine lines and wrinkles, water is your best friend. According to the results of a 2015 study in Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology, higher water intake had a positive impact on skin hydration. The study suggested that “increasing the dietary water intake would affect the skin the same way as a topical moisturizer.” Be sure you're drinking your daily intake, which, according to the study, is 3.7 liters for men and 2.7 liters for women, age 19 to 30 — though this also may vary from person to person.
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