Younger Skin at Any Age
Dermatologists offer advice on how to keep skin smooth and healthy.
Growing old gracefully isn't a lost art―it's just a forgotten one. For all those women who think the scalpel or the syringe is the only way to stay "young," here's a news flash: "About 80 percent of aging is caused by environmental factors, things you have control over," says Leslie Baumann, a dermatologist and the director of the University of Miami Cosmetic Center, in Florida. Real Simple went to eight female dermatologists to find out their own at-home anti-aging routines. They all offer a sensible approach: Protect your skin, use the right skin-care ingredients, and get on with your life.
Twelve Ways to Delay Aging
- Wear sunscreen every day. You've heard it before: Sun exposure is the number one cause of premature aging. Ultraviolet light from the sun―or a tanning bed―breaks down collagen and elastin, the substances that keep skin smooth and firm. To help minimize damage and wrinkles, stay out of the sun and follow these tips.
- Apply sunscreen liberally. A too-thin layer of SPF (sun protection factor) 15 is equal to only about SPF 7. Use a shot glass-size amount to cover your body and a teaspoonful to cover your face.
- Don't forget your legs. "We find more cases of malignant melanomas on women's legs than on their faces," says Heidi Waldorf, director of laser and cosmetic dermatology at Mount Sinai Medical Center, in New York City.
- Don't rely on SPF-enhanced makeup. Chances are you don't wear enough of it to defend your skin.
- Choose sunglasses with UV protection. Good sunglasses help prevent cataracts, and they also keep you from squinting, which can, over time, break down the collagen around your eyes and cause crow's-feet.
- Avoid smoky situations. If you smoke, quit. And nonsmokers should be aware that chronic exposure to secondhand smoke can damage skin. According to Karyn Grossman, a Santa Monica-based dermatologist, smoke, like the sun, bombards you with free radicals that make skin sallow, break down its collagen, and slow its ability to heal. To fend off damage, Grossman suggests products containing antioxidants, which neutralize free radicals. Her favorite antioxidants are vitamin C, vitamin E, and green tea. "The studies back up their efficacy the most," she says.
- Be conscious of repetitive movements. Between smiling, frowning, and talking, your face makes thousands of movements a day. Over time, these repetitive motions lead to deeper lines. It would be unrealistic (not to mention Stepford-like) to stop showing your emotions, but some habits can be curbed. "We're not saying, 'Don't live; don't move,'" says Debra Jaliman, a New York City dermatologist. "But if you're constantly drinking through a straw, chewing gum, or smoking, you're breaking down the collagen around your mouth. And the wrinkles will come earlier."