Anti-Aging Strategies for Your Skin

Michele Joyce and Jessica Pullano

by Michele Joyce and Jessica Pullano | August 9, 2010 @ 03:00PM

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Your skin has a way of announcing your age to the world -- whether you're ready to reveal it or not. Take a good look. Are you letting your skin get old before it's time?

Contrary to popular belief, brown spots, wrinkles, broken capillaries, and skin color changes don't have to be part of getting older. The aging process is reflected in gravity and muscle changes that cause skin to sag. But other "signs" of aging are actually under your control. Do you spend a lot of time in the sun? Get enough sleep? Eat lots of fruits and veggies? How much water do you drink? What type of skin cleanser do you use? All these factors can affect the appearance of your skin – especially when these behaviors continue, month after month, and year after year.

Don't over-expose. Your skin's biggest enemy is too much sun. How badly has it damaged your skin so far? Extend your arm straight out in front of you, and turn your palm up to the ceiling. Now look at the skin on the underside of your upper arm. Turn your palm face down and look at the skin on the outer side of your lower arm. Do the two patches of skin match in terms of color, number of freckles, and texture? If you're like most people, the skin under your arm has rarely seen the sun. In contrast, the skin on the top of your arms is probably more tanned or brown, is more freckled, and is more leathery.

Tan skin is popularly thought of as healthy-looking. In reality, browning and freckling are signs of sun damage. The ultraviolet radiation in the sun's rays has permanently changed this skin. Liver spots, tan patches on the face and back of hands, broken blood vessels, and wrinkles are all caused by sun exposure. And overexposure also causes loss of elasticity in your skin – making wrinkles worsen. So – from now on, avoid too much sun, and wear protective clothing and sunscreen when you go outdoors.

No smoking! Smoking causes your blood vessels to constrict -- crippling your cells' ability to absorb the oxygen and nutrients they need to stay healthy. When your skin doesn't get enough oxygen, it may begin to look unhealthily pale, pasty, and more severely wrinkled. Moreover, smoking increases the amount of time it takes for injuries and incisions to heal!

Get those ZZZs. Sleep deprivation can make you look older than your age. Your muscles may become fatigued, causing your face to droop. In addition, your face may look sallow; as your body suffers exhaustion, your blood pressure drops and causes less oxygen to be available to your skin cells.

Five a day – or more. Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables ensures a healthy supply of vitamins and minerals. And overall health definitely plays a part in healthy, younger looking skin. The same is true for drinking water. Proper hydration affects your overall health.

Calm down. The feelings related to stress are part of our bodies' defense mechanism. When we are in some way threatened, our bodies release chemicals like adrenaline to make us more alert. This is a terrific boost when a bus is barreling toward us, but these chemicals also kick in when we undergo mental stress before a big meeting or examination. If we are continually under this kind of mental stress, our skin and other organs will suffer.

Establish a routine. Your skin cleansing routine may also be adding to the appearance of aging. Myths such as "acne is caused by dirty pores" have unfortunately pushed many people into harmful cleansing regimens.

The key to healthy skin cleansing is keeping everything as gentle as possible while effectively removing the dirt and perspiration. Take a look at the soaps you're using, how hard you scrub, how often you wash, and the temperature of the water you use. Scrubbing, hot water, and harsh soaps can inflame your skin, strip it of protective oils, and break down those delicate tissues you're trying to care for.

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