10 Steps for Taking Years Off Your Skin

Person placing hands in water

As you get older, your skin loses some of its elasticity and might develop wrinkles, dark spots, and other signs of aging. Fortunately, the modern beauty industry offers plenty of helpful products and simple secrets to take years off your skin.

If your face, hands, and neck look older than you'd like, make lifestyle changes and use high quality skin care products to reverse the process. Work some of these 10 strategies into your skin care regimen to produce youthful skin that doesn't betray your age.

Get More Sleep

If you often wake up with heavy bags underneath your eyes and a sallow tint to your skin, you might need to work a few more hours of sleep into your schedule. While you sleep, your body releases human growth hormone, which helps support your skin and allows your tissues to recover from the rigors of the day.

Female in bed with bed head smiling

According to WebMD, a lack of sleep can contribute to fine lines and wrinkles because your body releases more cortisol, a stress hormone, when you don't get enough rest. Cortisol depletes the collagen in your skin. Your face might look leaner or have less dimension. Sleep deprivation can also result in thin skin, which shows dark spots — or hyperpigmentation — more readily and might cause your skin to heal more slowly after injuries.

If you get plenty of sleep, however, human growth hormone repairs damage to your skin while you snooze. You'll notice that the skin under your eyes looks tighter and your complexion appears healthier. If your skin endures too much exposure to the sun or if you break out in pimples, growth hormone will help remedy those problems.

Remember, though, that sleep quality matters as much as sleep quantity. If you get poor quality sleep, you might experience similar symptoms to those that occur after sleeplessness. Conditions like sleep apnea, for instance, can cause you to wake up multiple times each night and prevent you from entering deep wave sleep, where most of the previously discussed skin repairs occur.

If you notice lines or wrinkles in your face when you wake up, you might need to change your bedding. Pillowcases made from harsh materials, such as cotton with low thread counts, can rub against your face while you sleep and cause damage, such as redness and fine lines. Buy a softer pillowcase or try sleeping on your back instead of your side or stomach.

Go to bed an hour earlier, grab a midday nap, or set your alarm an hour later. Adding a few hours of sleep to your schedule every week can drastically improve the health and appearance of your skin.



Consume and Apply Vitamin C

Both dietary and topical vitamin C contribute to collagen production, which prevents wrinkles from forming at the corners of your mouth and eyes as well as on your neck and hands. Vitamin C's antioxidant properties can also inhibit age spot development and improve the color and smoothness of your complexion. 

You can consume dietary vitamin C through your favorite fruits, such as strawberries and oranges, or in a dietary supplement, such as a multivitamin. Not only does dietary vitamin C improve skin tone, but it also staves off colds, reduces stress levels, and lowers your stroke risk.

If you want to take years off your skin, however, consider applying vitamin C topically. A vitamin C serum enhances skin pigmentation and smooths out wrinkles. Apply the serum after you wash your face in the morning and at night. For faster results, consider combining the serum with a skin toner.

Look For Foods That Contain Beta-Carotene

If you need another reason to add more fruits and vegetables to your diet, consider the rejuvenating benefits of beta-carotene. This organic compound converts to vitamin A in your body, which increases your skin's ability to repair itself and generate new cells.

Fill your fridge with orange, deep red, and dark green fruits and vegetables. Cantaloupe, spinach, carrots, and cabbage all make excellent sources of beta-carotene. Whip up a fruit smoothie for breakfast or make a spinach and kale salad for lunch if you want to take advantage of beta-carotene as an antiaging device.

Several other dietary supplements can halt aging in its tracks, including vitamin E and omega-3 fatty acids. Focus on cultivating a diet rich in vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats so you feel as good as you look, and vice versa.

Use Moisturizers With Retinoids

Moisturizers hydrate your skin and keep it supple and smooth. Apply moisturizer every morning and evening, or once a day if you have sensitive skin, to prevent your face from drying out. You can also use moisturizers on your neck and hands.

To help your skin appear younger, look for moisturizers with retinoids. A retinoid is a chemical compound related to vitamin A that clears up acne, tightens skin, and reduces fine lines. Retinoids are the key ingredients in Accutane, an oral acne treatment developed in the 1980s. Today, many people use retinoids topically in antiaging moisturizers.

Rich ingredients in moisturizers, such as shea butter, can also help tighten and tone your skin. When you apply moisturizer regularly, you'll see fewer dark spots on your cheeks and under your eyes because hydration inhibits hyperpigmentation.

If your moisturizer doesn't seem to do its job, you might need to change your application schedule. Applications work best if you apply moisturizers after you get out of the shower. The warm water opens your pores and makes them more receptive to the moisturizers. Since the winter months bring drier weather, you might need to apply moisturizer more often when the temperatures drop.

Stay Out of the Sun

Umbrella and sun

You can't stop the natural aging process, but you can prevent premature aging. Sun exposure represents one of the most common reasons for advanced aging, especially for people who work outside. However, walking to the mailbox or across the supermarket parking lot also exposes your skin to the sun.

If you don't want to forego long days on the beach or summer hikes through the park, assemble an arsenal of skin-protecting products. Start with a broad-spectrum sunscreen, a minimum SPF 30. Apply sunscreen to every inch of your skin that you won't cover with your clothing.

A hat can also protect your skin from ultraviolet (UV) rays. If you want to hang out by the pool, for instance, grab a broad-brimmed hat that complements your bathing suit. The hat will keep the sun off your face and stop you from squinting across the water.

Your clothes can also protect you from the sun. During the summer, trade in the tank top for a lightweight, long-sleeved shirt. When winter hits, don gloves, scarves, and closed shoes to protect your skin from the sun and the drying impact of the wind.

Correct Squinting and Other Habits

When you can't see well, you automatically squint your eyes to clarify the view in front of them. Squinting reduces the amount of light your eyes allow to access the retinas and slightly adjusts the shapes of your eyes. As a result, you can see better than you would if you relaxed the muscles around your eyes.

While squinting isn't a dangerous activity, squinting can create fine lines and wrinkles around your eyes. The more you squint, the more fixed your skin becomes in the wrinkled position. If you find yourself squinting to see better, make an eye appointment. Your doctor can write a prescription for glasses or contacts so you don't have to squint to see clearly.

Other repetitive movements can cause wrinkles that suggest premature aging. For example, you might squint if you walk outside in bright sunlight without sunglasses to protect your eyes. Wrinkling the forehead and brow produces a similar result.

When you pour yourself a beverage, consider drinking directly from the glass and not through a straw. When you purse your lips around a straw, you create fine lines around your mouth that might eventually become permanent. Similarly, if you smoke cigarettes, stop smoking to prevent premature aging.

Refrigerate Your Skin Care Products

You probably store your skin care products in a medicine cabinet or under your bathroom sink. Keeping those items in your refrigerator offers surprising benefits, however, especially with liquid products.

For example, storing under-eye cream in the refrigerator keeps the cream cold until you wake up in the morning. In addition to its intended benefits, such as moisturizing the skin and toning your complexion, this cream will also reduce inflammation thanks to its temperature.

You can also put topical acne medication and sunscreen in the fridge to increase their effectiveness. Make sure these products are properly labeled so nobody mistakes them for condiments.

Remove Your Makeup

You return home after a long day of work and a long evening of driving the kids to soccer practice, and all you want to do is fall in bed with the television remote and a glass of wine. While this idea might offer immediate gratification, neglecting to remove your makeup each day might contribute to premature aging.

When you leave makeup on your skin while you sleep, human growth hormone and other bodily processes can't repair and refresh your skin. During the day, your makeup attracts free radicals that produce wrinkles and reduce collagen, so you'll increase the impact of these free radicals if you go to sleep without washing your face.

Besides, if you forget to remove your makeup, you're not washing, moisturizing, or toning your skin, either. Leave enough time at the end of the night to observe this ritual so it becomes part of your daily self-care.

Use Makeup to Accentuate Your Beauty

Female applying mascara to her eyelashes

Applying too much makeup can likewise make you look older. Too much makeup emphasizes wrinkles and fine lines, making them more obvious. Use makeup to accentuate your natural beauty, not cover your entire face.

If you use oil-based makeup, you'll clog your pores and cause your skin to retain more oil. Excess oil production and retention can result in adult acne breakouts as well as redness and other signs of irritation. 

Conversely, if you use makeup that dries out your skin, such as talc-based products, you might develop wrinkles earlier than you would have otherwise. Dehydration can make fine lines more pronounced and increase pigmentation of dark spots.

When you shop for makeup, read the ingredients and discard products that contain chemicals like zinc oxide and dimethicone. These materials create a layer of product directly against your skin that traps oil and free radicals in your pores, leading to premature aging.

Additionally, apply makeup as gently as you can to avoid irritating your skin. If you create too much friction, you'll encourage blemishes and create an uneven skin tone, especially if you use harsh products.

Limit Alcohol Consumption

A glass of wine or the occasional cocktail might help you relax before bed or blend in at a party, but keep your alcohol consumption to a minimum. Alcohol dehydrates the entire body, including the skin, which can negate all the efforts you've made to moisturize and hydrate your face, hands, and neck.

The more alcohol you drink, the less elastic your skin becomes. Your body cannot produce enough collagen to keep your skin healthy and plump, and you might wake up in the morning with red spots under your eyes, across your nose, and along your chin. These spots result from vasodilation — the expansion of blood vessels under the skin.

Alcohol's negative effects might impact women more quickly than men because of women's smaller size and different metabolism. While an occasional drink can be healthy, overdoing your drinks will age your skin.

Water, however, helps stave off premature aging. Water hydrates your body and boosts your immune system. Drink a glass of water after an alcoholic beverage to help reduce alcohol's dehydrating impact.

You can't stop yourself from getting older, but you can keep your skin from betraying your age. Follow the above tips to take years off your skin and to enhance your healthy lifestyle.

Image via Flickr by Suso Sinmiedo