Wrinkles are a natural part of getting older, and there’s no reason to dread getting them. Also known as rhytides, they are folds in your skin. As you age, your skin produces less of the proteins collagen and elastin, which makes your skin thinner. Environmental exposure, dehydration, and toxins can all make your face more likely to develop pronounced wrinkles.
But if you’re especially concerned about your skin’s appearance as you grow older, you may want to speak to a dermatologist.
“If you’ve engaged in lifestyle habits, such as, smoking or excessive drinking, you should be particularly vigilant of your skin’s appearance, as you may be at risk for skin cancer,” says Dr Amitabh Kumar, skin specialist, Max Hospital, Delhi.
If you would like to slow the signs of aging on your face, these are some natural ways to do so:
1. Limit your sugar intake
The medical community continues to learn more about how sugar consumption can affect your health. Sugar in your body sets off a process called glycation, and advanced glycation end products (called AGEs) are no good for your skin. “AGEs break down the collagen in your body and, over time, can make you look older. AGEs have also been linked to food preparation methods such as grilling and frying (as opposed to baking and boiling). Limiting your intake of sugar and oil-rich foods will help your face retain its youthful shape,” says Dr Kumar.
2. Cut out smoking
Smoking is bad for your health for lots of reasons, but many people don’t know that it can age your face prematurely. One fascinating study by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons compared the faces of 79 pairs of identical twins in which one had a smoking habit and the other one didn’t. The striking differences in their ages made it clear that smoking does affect the condition of the skin on your face. “Even being around secondhand smoke can increase your risk for many cancers and other diseases, and it may hurt your skin as well,” says Dr Sanjay Aggarwal, a general physician at Holistic Healthcare Centre in Delhi.
3. Wear sunscreen
Most people know that wearing sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) over 30 can help prevent skin cancer. A 2013 study in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that sunscreen also helped delay the signs of aging. “While you probably already wear a sunscreen for work, wearing a moisturising sunscreen on your face each day is a habit that will benefit your skin health long-term,” says Dr Kumar.
4. Up your antioxidants
Skin is exposed to more oxidative stress — an imbalance between free radicals or oxygen-containing molecules and antioxidants in your body — than any other organ in your body. That means your skin can be damaged just by going through your daily routine. Antioxidants help fight the damage that oxidative stress does to your cells, says Dr Aggarwal. While you can purchase a sunscreen or wrinkle cream enriched with antioxidants, there are plenty of other ways to get that antioxidant boost for your skin. “Eating a diet rich in blueberries, grapes, and spinach will help you get healthy skin from the inside out and could reduce the signs of premature aging,” says Dr Kumar.
5. Wash your face regularly
“Taking that extra three to five minutes to wash your face at night is never a waste of your time. When you leave make-up on your face over night, your skin absorbs most of it. Since most cosmetics contain harsh chemicals, this contributes to the oxidative stress your skin faces,” says Dr Aggarwal. That’s why taking an extra three to five minutes to wash your face at night is never a waste of time. Avoid vigorously scrubbing your face. Use a water-based wipe to cleanse your face before you go to sleep, and finish your wash with some cold water splashed across your skin.