Aging is a natural part of life. Lifestyle choices, genetics and environmental factors contribute to how your skin looks as you get older. Over time, you may notice fine lines and a duller complexion. Although aging is unavoidable, you can take proactive measures to keep your skin looking youthful. The following tips are simple strategies to prevent premature aging.

Apply Sunscreen Daily

Protecting your skin from the sun is the most crucial step to stop premature aging. Applying sunscreen before going outdoors will put a protective barrier over your skin. Purchase sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. Lather sunscreen on all areas not covered by your clothing. Remember that even indirect contact, such as sunlight coming through your car windows, will damage the skin. Reapply sunscreen every two hours as needed.

Sun-protective clothing will also help protect your skin from harmful UVA and UVB rays. Wear a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses while outside. Instead of sunbathing to get a tan, use a sunless tanning product.

Stop Smoking

Smoking speeds up your skin’s aging process. Tobacco smoke contains harmful substances, including carcinogens. The long-term effects of smoking include uneven skin tone, bags under your eyes, frown lines and deep wrinkles. Smoking slows the skin’s healing ability and quickly breaks down its elasticity.

Eat a Healthy Diet

Fuel yourself with healthy food rich in antioxidants. Antioxidants protect the skin from damage caused by free radicals. Foods high in antioxidants include fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Fermented foods, such as yogurt and kimchi, also contain antioxidants. Additionally, the fermented foods have anti-inflammatory properties. Avoid eating foods high in sugar and carbohydrates since they can speed up aging. Limit alcohol, too, as part of your healthy skin diet.

Foods with omega-3 fatty acids have also been linked to optimal skin health. The fatty acids aid in the skin’s oil production to keep the epidermis well hydrated. Although you can get more omega-3 fatty acids through supplements, foods such as fatty fish, nuts and seeds are also high in nutrients.

Cleanse Gently

Harsh soaps will irritate and damage your skin. Your skin is extremely delicate, especially in the area around the eyes. The eye area is much thinner and shows signs of aging early, such as crow’s feet. Don’t scrub the skin to remove dirt and makeup. Instead, wash your face twice a day with a mild cleansing product. Exfoliating cleansers tend to remove the skin’s protective barrier layer. Choose a face wash without any ingredients like alcohol or fragrances.

Wash your face using a gentle circular motion with your fingertips. Rinse your face clean using warm water. Pat dry with a clean towel.

Avoid Repetitive Facial Motions

When you repeatedly make the same facial expressions, it will cause the lines in your skin to become permanent. Practicing good posture and not squinting are two strategies to avoid repeated facial expressions. Botox treatments also offer a noninvasive way to keep wrinkles at bay.

Botox reduces the appearance of crow’s feet, frown lines and forehead lines. Results are nearly instantaneous, with a more youthful look achieved three to seven days after the injections. Appointments typically only last for 30 minutes with minimal side effects. You can repeat Botox treatments every four to six months for optimal results.

Try Vitamin C Serums

Topical vitamin C serums and lotions may prevent skin issues such as fine lines, acne and dark spots. After cleansing and toning your face, massage a few drops of a vitamin C formulation directly onto your face. Wait a few minutes until the serum absorbs into your face before putting on any makeup.

Exercise Often

Working out three or more days a week could significantly impact your skin’s youthfulness. Moderate exercise sessions improve circulation, which helps deliver oxygen-rich blood and nutrients directly to the skin. Exercising also helps remove toxins from your body which could harm the skin.

Exfoliate With Retinol

Products containing retinol get rid of dead skin cells. The ingredient also unclogs pores to treat acne and prevent blackheads. However, retinol can irritate sensitive skin. Please test a small area before applying it all over your face. Using a moisturizer before any retinol products also helps in protecting the skin. Moreover, you could look for a moisturizer containing anti-aging ingredients such as retinol and vitamin C.

Manage Stress

Although easier said than done, stress management should be a part of your anti-aging routine. When stressed, flare-ups of skin issues — including acne, eczema and psoriasis — are more likely to occur. Talk to a professional about healthy ways to keep your stress levels low.

Work With an Esthetician

Visit a local med spa to request a consultation with an esthetician. Discuss your skin concerns and ask about products or treatments that could help improve your skin’s appearance. Med spas offer short-term and long-term services to prevent and treat the signs of premature aging.

Keep in mind that you’re never too old (or young) to benefit from a healthy skin routine. A few simple lifestyle changes can make you look decades younger.

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