Aging is a fact of life, but premature aging doesn't have to be. Aging is either caused by genetics or by personal lifestyle and environment (e.g. smoking, stress, pollution and sun exposure). The good news is, with proper self-care and lifestyle changes, premature aging is avoidable, and elasticity can be restored to damaged skin. Here's how to turn back the hands of time.
So many skin issues are due to a poor diet. Cut back on refined sugar and processed and white foods and replace them with green, leafy vegetables, fresh fruits and fatty fish. Leafy greens are high in vitamin K and antioxidants that have anti-aging properties; salmon and tuna are high in skin-plumping omega-3 fatty acids; and vitamin C promotes the production of collagen, which is essential to healthy skin.
Protect Yourself From Sun Exposure
Just about every dermatologist and aesthetician will tell you that constant unprotected sun exposure is a one-way ticket to premature aging. Avoid the sun between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., when its rays are strongest, to reduce the process of photoaging, a major contributor to wrinkles. When spending time outdoors, always wear sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher, and don't forget to reapply every two hours.
Get Enough Sleep
Insufficient sleep creates eye bags and dark circles that intensify the look of premature aging. According to the National Sleep Foundation, the average healthy adult needs approximately seven to eight hours of sleep each night.
Exercise is not only good for the body, but great for the skin. It promotes circulation and oxygenation throughout the body, maintains a healthy immune system and keeps cells healthy. Also, sweating is a form of detox—that's why working out often seems to induce a cool, refreshed glow.
Cleanse Without Soap
Sulfates, dyes, fragrances and other harsh chemicals added to conventional soaps actually dry out the skin, and dry skin is more prone to premature aging. Wash with an oil-based cleanser, which happens to be suitable for all skin types, even acne-prone. Oil cleansers are the best at removing makeup, and they seal in moisture in the process.
Make a Tea-Based Toner
Next time you brew a cup tea, don't just drink it—put it on. Brew natural herbs, roots and botanicals like rosemary, sage, ginger, chamomile and peppermint, and refrigerate to create a cooling toner. Add lemon juice to tighten the skin and honey to seal in moisture.
Make a DIY Facial Butter
Whip up a homemade facial butter with some incredibly nourishing ingredients. Shea, mango and illipe butters have vitamins and minerals that boost moisture, produce collagen, revitalize damaged skin, promote circulation and accelerate wound healing. Mango and illipe butters, in particular, have wrinkle-fighting properties. Coconut oil is rich in medium-chain triglycerides (MCT), which strengthen connective tissues.
In a blender, combine 1 tablespoon each of shea butter, mango butter, illipe butter and melted coconut oil, and 2 teaspoons vitamin E oil until creamy. Pour half of the mixture into a clean container, and add 1 tablespoon honey; use this as a night cream. Pour the remaining mixture into a separate container without honey; use this as a day cream. Store creams in a cool place.
Illipe butter is derived from nuts. Do not use it if you're allergic to nuts.
Kay Jenkins has been writing faith-related articles since 1996. Her articles have appeared in the "Twin Visions" weekly newspaper and Candler Women's "Celebrating Our Stories." She has written for several syndicated e-zines and books on demand. Jenkins holds dual master's degrees in divinity and theology from Emory University. She also has a Bachelor of Arts in sociology from Rutgers University.