5 Ways To Anti-Age Your Skin (No Needles Required)
Wouldn’t it be awesome if you could turn back the clocks and retain the skin you had in 2005? Well, sadly we live in the real world and time machines just aren’t an option. However, with some effective skincare and a few tweaks to your lifestyle habits you can still ward off the visible signs of aging.
Wrinkles, dark spots, dullness and sagging skin are four of the most common signs of aging skin. And while the likes of Botox, dermal fillers and microneedling are extremely effective ways to reduce these concerns and nail younger-looking skin, needles aren’t everyone’s jam. But skincare is. Granted, you’ll never get the same dramatic results from skincare that you would from aesthetic treatments at the doctor’s office but that’s OK, because we know some of you don’t even want such dramatic results. Just to soften those fine lines, add radiance and fade discoloration would be nice, right?
Done. Here’s how.
1. Wear Sunscreen ALL YEAR ROUND
According to the Skin Cancer Foundation around 90 percent of all external skin damage is caused by the sun. Scary, huh? And the main culprits? UVA and UVB radiation. UVA radiation is the real skin ager as it penetrates deep into the skin where it breaks down and damages vital proteins such as collagen and elastin. UVA can also increase your risk of developing melanoma skin cancer which is nasty business. Meanwhile, UVB is the one that tans and burns your skin while potentially increasing your chances of developing non-melanoma skin cancers like basal and squamous cell carcinomas.
All in all, there may be no better feeling than the sun on your skin, but it's seriously bad news so we cannot stress enough the importance of year-round sun protection. We like to think you’re savvy enough to slap it on every day during the summer months when that big ball of fire in the sky is a constant reminder to look after your skin. But fess up, are you as vigilant in the winter when the days are cold and miserable? Thought not.
The thing is, the sun can be just as intense on cold days as it is in summertime. Yes, clouds work to partially block the sun’s damaging rays, but according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), up to 80 percent of UV radiation can still penetrate your skin on cloudy days. And that’s a lot.
Most derms will agree that your best defense against aging is to wear sunscreen every day. And not just any sunscreen. Stick with a formulation that’s broad-spectrum (this means it offers protect from UVA and UVB), never go lower than SPF 30, apply it vigilantly and you’ll be golden. Oh, and don’t scrimp when you apply. You’ll need a dime-size amount for your face and another one for your neck, chest and hands if these are going to be exposed.
2. Get On The Retinol Train
After sunscreen, a retinol product is arguably the second most important weapon you can have in your skincare arsenal. Especially if you’re in the market for an ageless complexion and, well, who isn’t?
Retinol is an active form of vitamin A that gets converted into retinoic acid by the skin. Here, it works to fight environmental damage, increase collagen production and stimulate cell turnover. It’s one of the most researched ingredients in skincare and is a huge favorite with dermatologists, skin experts and beauty editors alike for its powers to thicken, firm and brighten the skin. In fact, studies have shown that regular use of retinol offers a significant improvement in fine lines after just 12 weeks of use.
Full disclosure: retinol is a potent, active ingredient so it requires a lot of respect. Always do a patch test before applying then introduce it slowly into your routine. Retinol is best applied at night to reduce dryness and redness from exposure to the sun, so start by applying a low concentration such as 0.5 or 1 percent every third night to clean skin before bed. As your skin acclimates, you can up your application to every other night, then after a few weeks, if your skin is tolerating it well, move to every night. If you start to experience redness or peeling, go back to twice a week, or try layering your favorite moisturizer on top.
3. Fight Free Radical Damage With Antioxidants
After years of abuse from the environment, it’s no wonder the skin you had in your teens is not what it used to be. Overexposure to light, heat and pollution produces free radicals which work like demons to damage everything from DNA to collagen and elastin.
One of the most effective ways to battle the effects of environmental skin damage such as dark spots and wrinkles is to add an antioxidant serum into your daily routine. Antioxidants fight free radicals by diverting their attention away from damaging the good stuff in your skin. And they work. Boy do they work. Super effective antioxidants include vitamins C, E and B3 (niacinamide) – all of which you’ll find in our fabulous serums. Again, just make sure you patch test any new product before getting too slap happy with it.
Also, don’t forget to include as many antioxidant-rich foods in your diet to help your skin and body fight free radicals from the inside. We’re talking berries, kale, spinach, asparagus, carrots, beans and (let’s have a round of applause for…) dark chocolate.
4. Stop Eating All That Sugar
OK, so you know that sugar’s the actual devil when it comes to dental health and your weight, right? Well, it’s also a real contender for skin enemy of the year. And here’s why: it ages your skin like crazy through a process called glycation.
Glycation is a natural process in which sugar in your bloodstream attaches itself to collagen and elastin to produce free radicals called advanced glycation end products, or AGEs which is a clever acronym in itself, don’t you think? These nasty little AGEs cause your collagen and elastin to become weak, stiff and rigid which ends up manifesting itself in dullness, sagging, fine lines and wrinkles. Before you put every ounce of the glycation blame on sugar, however, it’s worth nothing that glycation is a fact of life and always happening within your skin as you age thanks to hormones, sun damage and the other usual suspects. It’s just that a high sugar diet unnecessarily speeds up this process and prematurely ages you up with little to no warning.
The obvious answer is to avoid refined white sugar and simple carbs, but don’t forget the more hidden sweet stuff like high-fructose corn syrup which is often used to sweeten soda, bread, breakfast cereals and salad dressings. Corn syrup is quite possibly the worst of the lot.
5. Look After Your Eyes
Never forget, the skin around your eyes is way thinner, drier and more fragile than the rest of your face which means it’s one of the first areas to show signs of aging such as fine lines (crow’s feet), puffiness and dark circles.
To be honest, crow’s feet are kind of inevitable, but this doesn’t mean you should admit defeat and let nature take its course because there are many way to slow down this particular aging journey. How so? Stop squinting at your computer (maybe an eye test is in order?), wear sunglasses as much as possible, get more sleep (preferably on your back) and up your skincare game with a targeted, moisturizing eye cream that contains ingredients like hyaluronic acid, green tea, ceramides, peptides and antioxidants – yes, those again.
One last thing: remember to apply your eye cream with as little force as possible – rubbing it in too heavily will do nothing but drag and damage the skin. Instead, use your ring fingers to tap it gently around the orbital bone and then let it sink in on its own.
Who needs Botox, anyway?
About Georgia Gould
Georgia is an award-winning beauty writer who has been in the business for over 20 years. British-born, she began her career as a magazine beauty editor in London before moving to San Francisco, CA in 2012 where she now continues her love as a freelance writer and editor. As well as her editorial work, Georgia has created content for many high-profile beauty brands, including Clarins, L’Oréal, Procter & Gamble, Simple and TRESemmé. Her passions include retinol (obviously), golfing, skiing and walking her beloved Schnauzer, Dave.