Congratulations, you picked a great time to be born. At your tender young age, you still have time to prevent premature aging. The actions you take now will save you countless wrinkles in the future, and best of all, it can be done cheaply.
The majority of women who buy anti-aging products today did NOT take care of their skin when they were younger. Part of it isn’t their fault; the dangers of UV light were simply not mainstream news 20 years ago. Even if they were, the skin care products available back then were nowhere near the caliber they are now.
In other words, technology and time are on your side. Just as saving for retirement pays off if you start in your 20s, so does skin care. The actions you take now will dictate how young your face looks at 35, 45, 55, and beyond.
Your strategy at this point is to prevent sun damage. That’s it. You can do some other things that will help (see below), but your primary concern right now, by far, is blocking and avoiding UV rays.
In order of importance, here are the steps you need to take right now to ensure a youthful face for as long as gravity will let you.
1. Wear sunblock. I repeat, wear sun block. Unfortunately, not all sun blocks are the same. In fact, some mainstream sunblocks will do nothing for you.
#1, it must block both UVA rays (the ones that age you) and UVB rays (the ones that burn you). But this is tricky, because even bottles that say they block both rays sometimes don’t do so. They mostly block UVB rays, which means the UVA rays will still come through.
Make sure the bottle you is a “broad spectrum” UVA/UVB blocker. Ingredients to look for are zinc oxide, titanium oxide, avobenzone, Mexoryl, or Helioplex.
#2, it must have an SPF (sun protection factor) of 15 or higher. A higher SPF doesn’t necessarily mean you’re getting more protection. Remember, SPF refers to UVB protection, so a high SPF means nothing unless the sunscreen blocks UVA rays.
#3, wear it all the time. Just because you are in the shade, or indoors, does not mean you are safe from the sun. Rays deflect, and that umbrella you use to shield the sun is only partially effective. When you’re indoors, the windows allow UVA rays to come in the house and age you when you least expect it. Cover up at all times, and re-apply a few times a day if you’re going to be outdoors a lot.
#4, the weather doesn’t matter. Clouds block some UVB rays, but UVA rays still come through. No matter the weather, wear sunscreen. Besides, wind also damages your skin, so you need as much protection as possible at all times.
#5, don’t just protect your face. Don’t forget your ears, hands, arms, legs, shoulders, etc. Even your lips need protection (from an SPF lip balm, not sunscreen).
#6, apply sun block correctly. This is extremely important. Sun block does you no good unless there is absolutely nothing between your skin and the sun block cream. That is, sun block must be the first thing you apply after washing your face in the morning. You must then wait at least 10 minutes before applying anything else or going outside, since the sun block needs time to sink in.
2. Stop smoking and drinking. Even if you don’t smoke, you might be around someone who does. Both smoke and second-hand smoke badly damage your skin. Smoking can also kill you in other ways, so the benefits go far beyond skin care.
My aunt has smoked for years, and I could stick nickels in the deep wrinkles all around her mouth and face. Smoking has made her look 20 years older than she is. Stop smoking now, and don’t hang out with people who do, because they’re badly aging your skin for you.
3. Hands off the face! Try not to let anything, whether it’s your hands or rough towels, touch your face.
Whenever you rest your face on your hand, you’re wrinkling your skin. If you rub towels over your face in rough fashion, you’re wrinkling your skin. And when you sleep face down on a pillow, you’re wrinkling your skin all night long.
Hands off the face, for one. Secondly, never scrub your face with anything. Instead of drying your face with a towel, pat it down gently. And when you sleep, lie on your back. The effects of gravity will be minimized, and you won’t be pressing your face into a pillow for 8 consecutive hours. Speaking of 8 hours…
4. Get some sleep. Lack of sleep is one of the #1 causes of premature aging, and not just for your skin. Aim for at least 7 hours, and ideally 8 or 9. “Beauty sleep” really is beauty sleep. So hit the sack.
5. Keep a poker face. People with straight, emotionless facial expressions are considered to be boring. But they also age well. Here’s why.
Excessive facial expressions such as laughing, smiling, frowning, and other silly clown faces, wrinkle your face. They bend, twist, and churn your skin into a wrinkled mess. There’s a reason clowns wear make-up.
I don’t suggest you give up laughing, because that’s impossible unless you watch the lifeless sit-coms on network TV these days. I do suggest you minimize the width of your smiles and laughs, and frowning is absolutely out of the question. Also, get a good pair of UV-protecting sunglasses. They’ll cut down on your squinting in the sun, and squinting causes that annoying wrinkle in your furrow.
Your face is not an Etch-a-Sketch, so treat it well. And crack a smile (but just a little).
6. Eat right. You know you need to eat right, but many of you don’t. And when you do, it’s usually a fad diet like Atkins, South Beach, or the Zone.
Bottom line: eating right is simple. The hard part is having the discipline to do it, but since you are interested in aging well, you’re going to learn discipline.
1) Drink lots of water. Water is good for every organ in your body, including your skin.
2) Eat lots of fruits and vegetables. They are filled with nothing but goodness, including the vitamins and nutrients your body (and skin) needs.
3) Minimize your portions. Find out what a serving size is, and eat just that. You’d be surprised what a serving size of meat really is (about the size of a deck of cards).
4) Eat lean protein. Fish, lean beef and poultry, egg whites, low-fat dairy products, beans, lentils, and nuts are all good sources of protein.
5) Choose your carbs. Forget about simple carbs like white bread, white pasta, and baked goods and desserts. Your carbs need to come from whole grain sources like flourless (or 100% whole wheat) bread, high-fiber cereal, wheat pasta, brown rice, quinoa, bulgur wheat, fruits, and vegetables.
A lifetime of these habits will ensure youthful skin for as long as it is able to do so. Everyone ages, and wrinkles are inevitable… BUT you can delay those wrinkles for a long time by following the strategy outlined above. Look good, feel good, and lay the foundation for a lifetime of healthy aging.