Taking Care of Your Skin

Delay the Signs of Aging

Learn which healthy habits will keep you looking young and vibrant for much  longer

By Leanne Beattie

prevent aging
Since I turned 40 this year, the passage of time has weighed heavily on my  mind. While I certainly don’t want to be 21 again, I wouldn’t mind looking more  youthful. But the anti-aging creams and surgical procedures that are often  promoted as the only ways to ward off the hands of time freak me out. I’ve  always believed that treating your body well and caring for your complexion  throughout your life will have a greater effect on how well you age than a cream  or potion ever will. And a little research proved that my hunch was right after  all. You can look younger, healthier and more vibrant without going under the  knife or spending hundreds of dollars on cosmetics. Here’s how.Eat Right: Healthy Skin Starts with Healthy Eating You really are  what you eat. Every cell in your body is made from the foods you eat, so why not  feed your body high-quality, nutritious foods for best results? After all, your  diet has a major impact on the overall health of your body, inside and out. If  you need motivation to eat more fruits and vegetables, caring about your  appearance may just be the push you need to fill your plate with more plant  foods.

Nutrients such as beta carotene, vitamin C, selenium and zinc are abundant  in fresh produce, while vitamin E is found in healthy nuts and seeds. These  antioxidants help increase cellular regeneration and the production of elastin  and collagen, keeping your skin firm and wrinkle-free. Essential fatty acids,  such as those found in flaxseed and fatty fish, help your skin function properly  and aid in tissue repair. Bottom line: If it’s a whole food, it’s good for both  your body and your skin.

Wear Sunscreen: The Perfect Anti-Aging Cream Too much sun exposure  can damage your skin, causing wrinkles, sun spots, uneven tone, and dryness—not  exactly the picture of youth. If you’re sensitive to the sun or spend more than  10-15 minutes outside most days (the amount recommended you spend outside  without sunscreen for vitamin D synthesis), then sunscreen is a must.

Dermatologists recommend applying SPF 15 (or greater) sunscreen every day,  even in the winter. For maximum anti-aging benefits, make sure to apply  sunscreen to your ears, neck, décolletage and hands, too. If looking younger is  important to you, then add sunscreen to your beauty regimen. As a bonus, it also  moisturizes your skin!

Stay Hydrated: Water is the Fountain of Youth Drinking lots of  water is one of the easiest ways to look (and feel) your best. Water is needed  for almost every body process, including perspiration and the removal of waste  products. Water also keeps the skin moist, plump and supple. Fine lines and  wrinkles appear more pronounced when you are dehydrated, so make sure you meet  your daily quota—that’s about eight cups a day (or equivalent).

Drink Less: Alcohol Ages You Alcohol may have some health benefits  according to recent research, but it could be detrimental to your appearance.  Drinking alcohol causes dehydration and depletes your body of valuable vitamins  and minerals. When you drink alcohol, your liver has to work extra hard to  eliminate the toxins from your body, but when you cut down or eliminate alcohol,  your body can flush out impurities more efficiently—resulting in clearer skin  and a rosier complexion.

Don’t Smoke: Tobacco Tarnishes Your Skin Ever heard of smoker’s  face? This term, added to the medical dictionary in 1985, describes the telltale  characteristics that make smokers look older than they really are: grey skin,  gauntness, and wrinkles around the mouth and eyes, and deep lines in the cheeks.  If all the other health problems related to smoking haven’t made you quit yet,  maybe vanity will.

Cigarette smoke contains more than 4,000 toxins, many of which are absorbed  directly into the skin. Smoking causes the blood vessels in the top layers of  the skin to constrict, reducing the amount of oxygen in the blood and causing a  sickly pallor. Smoking causes the skin to thin due to poor circulation, making  lines and wrinkles more noticeable. Smoking also reduces the production of  collagen, which is needed to keep the skin plump and firm. One study of 25 sets  of identical twins (one a lifelong smoker, the other a non-smoker) by British  researchers at St. Thomas’s Hospital found that the skin of the smoker was 25  percent thinner than the non-smoker’s. In a few cases the skin was up to 40  percent thinner. Your appearance is just one of the many reasons why you  shouldn’t smoke, so take steps to quit today.

Aging is inevitable, but looking older doesn’t have to be. While a certain  amount of how your skin ages is due to genetic factors beyond your control, just  knowing I can help keep Father Time at bay with a healthy lifestyle makes me  feel better about the future. Bring on the 40s—I’m ready to put my best face  forward! Are you?

Read more: Anti-Aging Tips – How to Fight Aging at WomansDay.com – Woman’s Day

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