Although Botox, fillers and surgery are effective ways to look younger, surgery and injectables aren’t for everyone. There are a variety of other less expensive and natural ways to look younger without surgery or injectables breaking the skin or the bank. First, let’s talk about what causes our skin to age prematurely.
Primary Causes of Premature Aging
1. Sun Exposure
Remember slathering in baby oil and baking in the sun when you were a teenager? Unfortunately, those beautiful tans that made us look slimmer and gave our skin a “healthy glow” were not so healthy after all.
Not only does prolonged sun exposure increase our risk of various skin cancers, such as melanoma, it can also cause our skin to age prematurely. When we spend time out in the sun without sun protection, the ultraviolet (UV) rays cause our skin’s collagen to break down, leading to stretching and sagging.
Crepey skin and saggy knees? Yup, we can blame the sun for that. The sun also causes brown spots, known as “age spots,” on the backs of our hands and other areas of the body, such as our shoulders and back.
We all know that smoking is terribly unhealthy for virtually every organ in the body. But in addition to its life-threatening impacts, it causes major premature aging. According to tobaccofreelife.org, smoking 30 cigarettes per day can add 14 years to our appearance by age 70.
As with sun exposure, smoking breaks down precious wrinkle-fighting collagen, leading to older-looking skin. It also constricts blood vessels, which deprives the skin of essential nutrients.
Nutritionist Jairo Rodriguez told Vogue “alcohol is actually one of the worst, most aggressive compounds to destroy your skin.” Alcohol causes your skin to dehydrate, making fine lines and wrinkles more apparent. Heavy alcohol consumption also can cause blood vessel ruptures and inflammation, according to detoxtorehab.com, causing you to look older than your age.
4. Not Enough Sleep
Lack of sleep can impact the skin’s ability to repair itself by replenishing collagen and draining fluids and toxins, advises Ellen Marmur MD, who wrote Simple Skin Beauty: Every Woman’s Guide to a Lifetime of Healthy, Gorgeous Skin. When this repair process doesn’t happen, eye bags and wrinkles develop, and our skin is deprived of its healthy glow.
According to webmd.com, stress causes the body to produce more cortisol, a hormone that can lead to inflammation and oily skin. It can also exacerbate existing skin issues like rosacea, eczema and psoriasis, and acne.
This is by no means an exhaustive list. But it represents the worst offenders for premature aging.
9 Ways to Look Younger Without Surgery or Injectables
Now that we understand the primary causes of premature aging, we can take specific steps either to avoid them or at least reduce their impact.
1. Use Sun Protection
One of the best ways to look look younger without surgery or injectables is to avoid the sun’s damaging effects and stay out of the sun. But for those of us who enjoy the sunshine, we can at least take some basic steps to ensure we’re protected. The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) recommends using a water-resistant, broad-spectrum sunscreen that is SPF 30 or higher.
According to AAD, SPF 30 blocks 97% of the sun’s UVB rays, which means a higher SPF only offers slightly more protection. Additionally, AAD recommends seeking shade between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. when the sun is strongest and to wear a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses when possible.
2. Don't Smoke
If you’re already a smoker, quitting can be very difficult. According to smokefree.gov, the nicotine in cigarettes causes physical addiction, which means suddenly stopping can lead to physical withdrawal. Withdrawal symptoms range from sadness, irritability, and trouble sleeping to feeling like you have the flu.
Fortunately, smokefree.gov, offers several tools to help you quit, including a text message program, free smoking cessation apps, and live helplines if you need to talk to an expert.
3. Stop or Reduce Alcohol Consumption
Vogue.com explains it takes as much as 33 hours for alcohol to leave the body of a woman over 40. Accordingly, if a woman over 40 drinks on Monday, she should not drink again until Wednesday. Celebrity aesthetician Angela Caglia tells refinery29.com as a general rule, the clearer the alcohol the better it is for your skin. So before picking up that heavy lager, consider a vodka soda instead.
Of course, abstinence makes the skin grow fonder, so if that is your cup of tea (pun intended) you might consider strategies to stop drinking altogether. My post, Break the Wine O’Clock Habit: Try These Six Strategies offers several suggestions.
4. Get Some Sleep
Sleep is often elusive, especially when you’re peri- or post-menopausal. Nonetheless, there are several things we can do to improve our sleep patterns. Healthline.com offers 17 tips to sleep better, and I’ve found a few to be particularly helpful. These include avoiding alcohol at night (see three above), increasing bright light exposure during the day, sleeping and waking at consistent times, and exercising regularly.
5. Manage Stress
Notice how I didn’t tell you to reduce stress? Of course, that would be ideal, but for those with difficult jobs or children at home, reducing stress is next to impossible. So rather than stressing out about stressing out, take a few steps to manage your reaction to stressful situations.
The American Heart Association (AHA) advises us to take at least 10 to 15 minutes per day to do something that makes us feel good. For example, listen to music, meditate, or take a relaxing bath. AHA also suggests deep breaths if you find yourself in a moment of stress. You would be surprised how effective deep breathing can be.
Even going for a ten-minute walk can help you gain perspective when the world is crashing down at work. And if you’re working from home, as many of us are these days, try petting your dog or cat rather than throwing your children out the window!
6. Exercise Regularly
Not only does regular exercise help with items two through five, but it can also make your skin look younger. The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity, such as brisk walking, dancing, or slow biking, per week, as well as at least two days of moderate to high-intensity strength training per week.
According to a study published in the Journal of Free Radical Biology and Medicine, moderate exercise is actually an antioxidant. Additionally, Dr. Ellen Marmur told webMD that increased blood flow from exercise nourishes skin cells by providing vital oxygen and nutrients. It also helps remove waste products, including free radicals.
But all you need to do is look in the mirror after a few weeks of regular exercise to see why regular exercise is on my list of 9 ways to look younger without surgery or injectables. Check out Get Fit After 50: 25 Minutes is All You Need for a complete full-body workout.
7. Drink Water
Hydration is everything when it comes to youthful-looking skin. Dr. Steven Deliduka, board-certified dermatologist with Forefront Dermatology says “without adequate water intake, skin appears duller, and wrinkles and pores more prominent. Proper hydration levels help the skin to become plump and improve its elasticity meaning it’s less likely to crack and have irritations and blemishes.”
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine recommends women consume about 11.5 cups of fluids per day. Your level of exercise and overall health may impact this recommendation. However, the Mayo Clinic advises that you are probably consuming enough fluids if you are rarely thirsty and your urine is clear.
8. Eat a Healthy Diet
According to the Mayo Clinic, a diet rich in antioxidants and low in processed sugars and carbohydrates is ideal for making your skin look its best. Superfoods like carrots, apricots, and other yellow and orange fruits and vegetables, leafy greens, tomatoes, beans and legumes, salmon or other fatty fish and nuts are highly recommended to give your skin a healthy glow.
9. Use Products with Retinol
Joshua Zeichner, M.D., director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at the Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City, told prevention.com “retinol enhances cell turnover and stimulates collagen production,” improving fine lines and wrinkles, reducing age spots and improving acne.
“Retinol and especially retinoic acid work to increase cell turnover, build collagen, improve discoloration, [and] treat wrinkles by replenishing the body of vitamin A,” board-certified and nationally-acclaimed dermatologist Dr. Dendy Engelman told thelist.com. All of this means it works to make our skin look younger when concentrated in a skin-care product.
These are just nine ways to look younger without surgery or injectables. Of course, you can also add pricey facials and other noninvasive skincare treatments to this list for even more impact. But most of the items on this list cost little to nothing while significantly improving the appearance of your skin. Try them all and you’ll be surprised at how much younger you will look in no time!
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