From skin care to plastic surgery, we are obsessed with ways to turn back the clock on our appearance. Our aversion to looking older is so ubiquitous that it fuels several multi-billion-dollar industries trying to sell a quick fix. Many of my younger patients wonder what they can do to prevent signs of aging like wrinkles and loss of firmness, and I’m always happy when they bring it up during their visits with me – prevention is far more beneficial than any cream or cosmetic procedure, in my opinion. Here are my own evidence-based commandments for stopping the clock:
Thou shalt protect your skin from the sun!
If you take one thing away from this article, it should be this: wear sunscreen every day. This holds true no matter the weather or season. The sun’s ultraviolet rays are one of the primary factors in skin aging, causing uneven skin tone, wrinkles and loss volume over time. Want proof? Notice the difference in the quality of the skin on your upper chest, which gets a lot of sun in most people, and your buttocks which is (usually?) sun protected. Applying sunscreen to any exposed skin on a daily basis (don’t forget the hands!) will ensure that you stay looking your best and will greatly decrease your risk of skin cancer.
Thou shalt moisturize!
One of the more interesting points that has come out of recent research is that people who moisturize daily show less signs of aging. Moisturizers have plenty of benefits, primarily increasing the hydration level of the skin. Well hydrated skin looks plumper and smoother – both signs of skin health and youth. My favorite part of this commandment? It doesn’t matter what moisturizer you use – whether its $5 or $500. All that matters is that you use it regularly. I recommend using a moisturizer with SPF to knock out commandments 1 and 2 every morning, and a separate SPF-free moisturizer at night.
Thou might want to use a retinoid!
Retinoids – chemical derivatives of retinol AKA vitamin A – are valuable and versatile medications recommended by dermatologists the world over for conditions ranging from acne to melasma. While retinoids are a boon to certain skin conditions, they’re also an antiaging essential due to their ability to increase firmness, shallow wrinkles and even skin tone. One of the gentlest retinoids, adapalene, has gone over-the-counter in the US making the benefits of retinoids accessible to everyone. I recommend using retinoids under the guidance of your physician. Also note that they will make your skin more sensitive to the sun, so sunscreen is a must! I’ll be talking more about the proper use of retinoids in a later post.
Though shalt drop the toxic habits!
It’s 2019. I shouldn’t have to tell you to stop smoking, but I will. Smoking and, to a lesser degree, alcohol use have been scientifically shown to increase the signs of aging. We’ve known this for years, but it never hurts to drive the point home. Smoking will age your skin exponentially, in addition to making you more vulnerable to a whole host of illnesses including cardiovascular disease and lung cancer. If you’re looking for help quitting, take a look at the CDC’s list of Quit Smoking Resources and talk to your primary care physician about strategies that may help.
Now take these commandments, go forth and be rejuvenated!!!
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