It is an undeniable truth – we are all getting older. But, that doesn’t mean we have to look our age. After all, they say 60 is the new 40, right? As I rapidly approach the 60’s club, I find that taking better care of my skin is crucial. Not only does our skin lose elasticity as we age, it’s also quite challenging to bring it back to its normal state once the aging process has started.
As we mature, our skin loses proteins called ‘elastin and collagen’, which are found in the dermis layer of the skin. These proteins allow the skin to stretch and bounce back. In addition, we also lose fat below the layers of skin, which causes the outer layer to thin, droop and form wrinkles.
In some cases, genetics will determine whether or not wrinkles will be in your future. However, there are many factors that aid in the early onset of dry skin that leads to wrinkles, such as sun damage, poor skin care, diet and even the use of some medications. Unfortunately for me, I fell into three of the four categories listed above. I had to change my ways!
Aging is a part of life, but you do have some control over how you’ll look as you go through the process. What you do or don’t do for your skin on a daily basis affects what you look like and how people see you. Below are some ideas that I found helpful for protecting my skin:
Sun exposure: We all know it’s not possible to avoid the sun completely, but you can preserve your skin by applying face and body lotions with a 15 or higher SPF sunblock. It’s best to choose sunscreens with ‘broad spectrum’ on the label and reapply every two hours if you’re planning to be outside all day. For women, applying a tinted moisturizer or foundation with the same SPF parameters on top of the lotion is a dual benefit. This routine works well for me. I do this every day. The chart below is a great guideline for the best protection from the sun’s rays.
All-Over Skin Care: In my younger days, I never paid much attention to my skin below the neck, other than simply applying lotion (any kind of lotion) now and then. Now, I find that showering in warm water (rather than hot steamy water) and using a gentle, soap-free body wash followed by a hydrating lotion is a must! Any cleanser with added moisturizers will help to avoid stripping your skin of its natural oils – especially areas like the elbows, knees and heels. While face and body lotions work best when applied to moist skin, reapplying throughout the day is beneficial. The more you do this, the better the results!
Benefits of Exfoliation: Exfoliating is the process of removing dead skin cells from the outer protective layer of your skin. Our skin is constantly repairing and replacing itself, leaving layers and layers of dead skin behind. Removing these dead skin cells will reveal healthier, brighter skin – immediately. While there’s no rule to how often exfoliating should be done, I do it once a week to keep my skin as radiant as possible. For the body, use a loofah or body sponge with a hydrating body scrub applied in a circular motion – leave on for a couple of minutes, then rinse. The same process can be used for the face and neck; however, using a washcloth for a gentler approach is recommended along with products specifically meant for the face. And of course, moisturize, moisturize, moisturize afterward.
Healthy Diet: Believe it or not, the health of your skin can improve from the inside out – another lesson I’ve recently learned. Eating foods that are rich in healthy oils and antioxidants, such as fish and leafy greens, can supplement the skin in so many positive ways. Drinking plenty of water (eight 8-oz. glasses daily) will also keep the insides and outsides of our bodies well-hydrated. On the flip side, caffeine and alcohol can dry the skin from the inside. Cutting back on your daily caffeine intake or incorporating a glass of water in between cocktails can make a big difference.
Taking care of your skin at every age is vital to looking and feeling your best. I learned that just a little extra TLC every day can protect my skin from dryness and help it glow.