Be kind to your complexion (and your wallet) by adopting these anti-aging habits right now.
Fancy creams, gels, oils, and serums like to offer our skin magical antidotes to the effects of time, but they’re rarely cheap. Plus, you never really know if they’ll work. So while you could splurge on the latest 14-karat-gold-infused eye mask, what if we told you there were ways to boost your skin’s natural ability to fight creases, dullness, and spots—without having to sell an internal organ? These anti-aging tips aren’t necessarily quick fixes or beautifully packaged—they’re lifelong habits to adopt now to give your skin a fighting chance for a long, happy youth. Sounds pretty great right? Here’s what to do.
1. Wear Sunscreen Every Day—and Get a Hat You Love
You probably hear this all the time, but it’s so important for people of all skin types and colors. Sun exposure is the number-one cause of premature aging. Ultraviolet light from the sun (or tanning beds) breaks down collagen and elastin, which keep skin from starting to crease and droop. Use a moisturizer with at least SPF 15 every day (use SPF 30 if you’re very fair). When you’ll be outside in the sun for hours on end (hello, beach days!), kick it up to SPF 40 or higher.
2. Buy Shades With Legit UV Protection
Just because your favorite sunnies have dark lenses doesn’t mean they’re the real deal. Pay attention to labels as you’re shopping for sunglasses. The American Optometric Association recommends look for pairs that block 99 or 100 percent of UVA and UVB rays. Quality UV-protection sunglasses help shield the delicate skin around your eyes, prevents cataracts, and keep you from squinting. All good stuff.
3. Take Care While Flying
Germs aren't the only thing you have to worry about while traveling. Unless you’re an astronaut, plane rides are the closest you'll ever get to the sun, and you’re more vulnerable to its rays coming through the windows while up in the air. Airplane air is also notoriously dry, so try to avoid super-salty snacks and hydrate way more than you think you need to. Apply an SPF 15 or higher moisturizer about 30 minutes before you board, and if you’re in a window seat, pull the shade down for at least some of the flight.
4. Curb Your Sugar Intake
Apparently when sugar breaks down and enters the bloodstream it bonds with protein molecules, including those found in skin-supporting fibers collagen and elastin. Unfortunately this process, called glycation, makes collagen and elastin inelastic. Very sad, we know. But are you going to stop eating birthday cake altogether? No. Would we ever expect you to? Of course not. But if you’re obsessed with maintaining a youthful complexion, make smart choices and indulge in moderation. Instead of eating a pint of ice cream a week, reach for a square (or two) of antioxidant-rich dark chocolate after dinner to curb that sugar craving.
5. Keep Your Weight From Fluctuating Too Much
Constant and unhealthy weight fluctuation affects the skin’s elasticity too—that means no yo-yo diets! Keep your weight steady within a healthy range for you and your body type. And definitely chat with your doctor for guidance on where your body mass index should be (and remain).
6. Get Seven to Eight Hours of Sleep Every Night
This likely isn’t news to you, and anyone who’s sleep deprived has probably noted the effects it has on their skin. Shooting for seven to eight hours of deep, uninterrupted sleep every night allows your skin to repair daily wear and tear. (Psst, here’s how to get the best night’s sleep every single night.)
7. Don’t Smoke—and Avoid Smoky Environments When You Can
In case you haven’t heard, smoking is bad for you. But even nonsmokers need to understand that constant exposure to secondhand smoke exposes them to harmful free radicals that lead to sallow skin and collagen breakdown, and slow skin's ability to heal. Sometimes it’s hard to avoid—you’re not just going to wait on the curb while your friends hang out at a particularly smoky bar—but take extra care to stay in nonsmoking hotel rooms, rent smoke-free apartment buildings, and avoid spending hours at smoky bars and restaurants every night.