While you can't stop Father Time, you can make these everyday changes to improve your overall health.
There are certain universal truths in life, the most obvious of which are: the sun rises from the east, humans don't deserve dogs, and everyone ages except for Jennifer Lopez. I have nothing else to say about those first two, but I do have some tips pertaining to the third. There's no way to get around the fact that you have to get older, but the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), a group of over 20,000 board-certified dermatologists, has insight into how you can prevent some of the noticeable the signs of aging, and they boil down to simple lifestyle changes.
The AAD explains there are two types of aging, intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic is the aging your genes dictate, while extrinsic is the type of premature aging caused by lifestyle and environmental factors, which we have a hand in.
First and foremost, you should be wearing sunscreen every single day. Even on cloudy days and while sitting on airplanes, you're susceptible to harmful rays that can lead to wrinkles, sun spots, and skin cancer. Your sunscreen should be broad-spectrum to protect against both UVA and UVB rays as well as SPF 30 or higher and water resistant. If you don't have a daily sunscreen, here's our list of the best sunscreens.
This should be intuitive, but if getting tanned or burned by the sun quickens the aging process, so does tanning in artificial beds or by using other similar technology. If you're still hell-bent on getting a tan and bronzer won't cut it, try lotions like Jergens Natural Glow Daily Moisturizer ($9; target.com) or spray tans.
In addition to protecting your skin from the sun every day (can't stress "every" enough), here are more simple lifestyle changes you can make to prevent premature wrinkles and aging.
1. Do You Smoke? Stop
A lot of the lifestyle changes that benefit your overall health also benefit your skin. As you know, smoking is linked to a slew of health issues, and the AAD also says it causes wrinkles and "a dull, sallow complexion." Case in point.
2. Eat Well
A diet full of refined carbs and sugar can actually accelerate aging. Yikes. According to Sejal K. Shah, MD, FAAD, a board-certified dermatologist at SmarterSkin Dermatology in New York City, "It is important to have a balanced diet that contains antioxidants, proteins, and healthy fats. Avoiding too many high-glycemic foods is also beneficial for the skin." You can also boost your skin's radiance and flush out toxins with regular water consumption. As a good rule of thumb, most health professionals suggest upping your intake to at least two liters per day.
3. Exercise Regularly
Exercising, another lifestyle habit connected to positive benefits ranging from mental to physical, can improve your body's circulation and immune system, which can lead to looking younger. Stumped on how to start working out if you basically haven't moved in ages? Brush up on our tips for establishing a fitness routine you'll actually stick with.
4. Drink Less Alcohol
Alcohol is a diuretic, which is why you have to go to the bathroom way more often when you're out drinking than on a sober night at home. Even if you opt out of sugary cocktails, alcohol dehydrates you, which can make your skin look rougher, splotchier, and older.
5. Moisturize on the Regular
As the AAD explains, "Moisturizer traps water in our skin, giving it a more youthful appearance." Look for glow-boosting lotions that contain SPF, like these skin-saving facial moisturizers.
6. Wash Your Face at Least Twice a Day
Washing the day off requires a lot more than a few makeup wipes. Start with an oil-based cleanser, which works to eliminate impurities without drying out the skin. Cleanse morning and night, minimum, and after you sweat so the perspiration doesn't sit on your skin, causing irritation. (And did you know, you should always blot, not wipe, sweat?)
7. Discontinue Products That Irritate Your Pores
"Building up tolerance" to certain skin treatments isn't really a thing. If a product is burning or hurting your skin, it's also probably making it look older from irritation. Unless a product that stings is prescribed by a dermatologist, it's probably not right for you. Look out for common skin irritants on product labels, like fragrance and propylene glycol.
8. Reconsider Your Facial Expressions
We're all for smile lines since they're an indicator of a happy life, but maybe it's time to cut out that unapproachable scowl you make on your morning commute, and instead of squinting at your computer screen, could it be time for glasses?