Skin Care for Anti-Aging

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Who was it who said that getting older is not for sissies? Nowhere is this truer than in skin care and antiaging skin care treatments. There seem to be an infinite number of antiaging skin care products available for both men and women that promise to make our skin look healthier and younger or to prevent the signs of aging before they start. It may seem overwhelming, but the science of keeping our skin young and healthy looking doesn't have to be confusing.

We all want to turn back the clock and rejuvenate our skin, or at least prevent it from looking old before its time. Many factors contribute to the aging process in your skin, but the two biggest are exposure to the sun and the environment, and genetics. You can't do too much about the genes you inherited, but you can protect your skin from damage. Your skin is the most exposed part of your body and overexposure to the sun, wind and weather can age it before its time.

For most people, the skin becomes thinner and less elastic with age. This thinning of the skin means it is more easily damaged, and does not heal as well from injuries. Your skin may have bounced back quickly from sunburn and windburn when you were younger, but it loses some of that ability as you age.

Skin loses elasticity with age as the production of the skin proteins collagen and elastin starts to slow. The normal production of skin cells in your epidermis slows down, as does the shedding of dead cells. The loss of elasticity leads to the formation of fine lines and wrinkles. With the loss of underlying fat on the face that happens with age, this leads to the formation of deeper folds and furrows. The nasolabial folds (the folds that run from your nose to the corners of your mouth) may become deeper. You may develop marionette lines, the furrows that go from the corners of your mouth down to your chin.

Several things can age the skin faster. The biggest factor is excess exposure to sunlight, or any other source of ultraviolet (UV) light. Sun damage is cumulative. Excessive sun exposure breaks down collagen, hurts the skin's ability to make new collagen, and attacks elastin.

Exposed skin is less elastic than skin that was not exposed. It becomes loose, wrinkled, and leathery much earlier than protected skin.

Antiaging therapy for your skin should start with changing your lifestyle. Avoid sunbathing and tanning salons. Use a good sunscreen with an SPF (sun protection factor) of at least 15 at all times when you are outdoors. Tanned skin is damaged skin.

But sunlight is not the only environmental damager of skin. Smoking will also age the skin, especially the skin of the face, faster. Smoking impairs the healing ability of the skin and reduces elasticity by interfering with the formation of collagen. Smokers also develop unattractive thin vertical lines around their lips that are caused by drawing on cigarettes. Do not start smoking, and stop if you already do.

Your skin is your body's first line of defense from the rest of the world. it is continually bombarded with tiny charged molecular particles called free radicals. Free radicals are highly reactive and cause chemical reactions in the skin (and the rest of your body) that enhance aging. Free radicals are, to some extent, a normal part of the environment, but are more abundant in heavily polluted air. Your body has natural ways of coping with free radicals, but years of exposure to them can lead to wrinkling and aging of the skin. Antioxidants in the diet, such as certain vitamins (especially vitamins A, C, and E), help neutralize free radicals.

What Can You Do?

Proper diet and hydration are very important in keeping skin young looking for as long as possible. A balanced diet rich in fruit's and vegetables that contain a lot of antioxidants can help you maintain a healthy skin, as can a good vitamin and mineral supplement. Healthy, elastic skin relies on a diet rich in vitamins A, E and C, which are antioxidants that can help prevent skin damage that leads to hyperpigmentation and wrinkles. Vitamin A helps prevent sun damage and vitamin C helps the healing process. A poor diet can lead to skin that is dry, blotchy, and dull.

Drinking at least 64 ounces of water (eight 8-ounce glasses) can help your skin keep moisturized from the inside. If you live in a very dry climate, you may need to drink even more water.

As far as skin creams go, the best are the most basic: sunscreen and moisturizer. There are many good quality sunscreens and moisturizers on the market and it is easy to find a quality product that combines both. Other antiaging products such as specially formulated make-up for mature skin and fragrance-free cleansers are also available.

Further information on antiaging skin care can be found on these pages:

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