As you get older, your skin’s health changes. You can see these changes in the texture, firmness, and strength of your skin—especially the skin on your face. In a previous blog, we reviewed the reasons why skin changes as we age, covering the different internal and external factors that can degrade skin health. You can get a recap here.
If you’re like me and choose NOT to age gracefully, here are some tips to increase the health of your skin, especially as it gets more vulnerable with age.
1. Fight glycation by reducing the sugar in your diet
Glycation is the process by which glucose and fructose molecules (AKA sugar!) bind to proteins and fats in our body and create AGEs: advanced glycation end products. The synthesis of AGEs degrades the collagen and elastin molecules in our skin, damaging its integrity and firmness. Think of browning of meat which is the result of the Maillard reaction – and notice that coating your meat with honey or sugar makes it brown quickly and evenly. The same is happening to the skin on your face: sugar+protein ->Maillard reaction = browning!
Because glycation is directly caused by the sugar we ingest, focus on managing your sugar and carbohydrate intake. Remember: carbs are not bad, they are necessary for your health. However, in excess levels, high sugar levels can contribute to increased glycation in our body which more readily breaks down the collagen and elastin in our skin. According to the American Heart Association, dietary intake limit of added sugars is about 25 grams (6 teaspoons) per day for women, and 36 grams (9 teaspoons) per day for men. And if you are diabetic or pre-diabetic, aim for even lower added sugars as many whole foods already contain natural sugars.
To further manage the effects of sugar on your health, you can also check out our past blog on blood sugar management here to learn more about decreasing the effects of sugar on your body!
2. Protect against the photoaging process
Protective sunscreen is the best way you can prevent photoaging and the harmful health effects of UV exposure. For a daily face sunscreen, we recommend the Cocokind Daily SPF which has a 2/10 rating from the Environmental Working Group (Note: 1 is best in EWG ratings, not 10).
For other simple tips, throw on a wide brimmed hat or ball cap when working in the garden, and opt for long sleeves when you can do so without overheating yourself. Remember: UV light exposure is responsible for the majority of skin aging—taking small steps can lead to big differences in your skin’s health!
For more sunscreen recommendations, you can also check out our past blog on sunscreen do’s and don’ts, linked here.
3. Regularly cleanse and exfoliate your skin
Perhaps it’s obvious to regularly clean your skin in order to improve its health. However, there are certain ingredients to avoid when it comes to your skin cleansers—retinol, formaldehyde, and sulfates. All of these can decrease the helpful aspects of cleansers as they have been labeled carcinogenic. You can read the blog here for more about why to avoid these ingredients!
Instead, opt for a gentle cleanser without one of these ingredients. You can scan through the list of EWG verified facial cleansers at the link here, though we recommend speaking with your dermatologist who can recommend a gentle cleanser depending on your specific skin type.
Additionally, to clean off the dirt and pollutants your skin is exposed to daily, be sure to exfoliate regularly—two to three times per week. Again, to avoid unnecessary chemical exposure, opt for a natural exfoliator. Consider the Honest Beauty Skin Sweep Exfoliating Powder Cleanser or Sally B’s Moisturizing Body Buff for a full body exfoliation. Both are EWG verified, meaning they meet the Environmental Working Group’s strictest standards for health and safety and provide full transparency about their ingredients.
4. Take supplements to support your skin health
As covered in the last blog, much of your skin’s degradation can come from free radicals and inflammation. When you enhance the levels of antioxidants and supportive nutrients in your body, you better equip your body’s defenses against inflammatory molecules and free radicals from UV light exposure, air pollution, cigarette smoke, and more.
To naturally increase your antioxidant intake, eat dark berries like blueberries and blackberries, as well as spinach and green tea. We’ve also listed some supplements you can take below to up your antioxidants and inflammatory fighting power:
- Vitamin C directly increases your antioxidant levels, helping fight free radicals which can contribute to wrinkles.
We recommend NOW Acerola Powder (a more bioavailable form of vitamin C) which you can find here.
- Zinc helps fight inflammation and supports the skin with growth and repair. Zinc is also helpful in fighting acne.
For zinc, here’s a third-party tested product we recommend.
- B Vitamins, especially B3, help reduce the appearance of wrinkles. B5 supports the integrity of the skin barrier.
We recommend the Thorne Stress B-Complex, which you can find at the link here.
5. Begin Red Light Therapy
Recent studies have shown promise for Red Light Therapy on skin health. In one 2014 paper, Red Light Therapy increased collagen density and reduced fine lines in individuals who used it for about four months. But what is it?
Red Light Therapy is the process of exposing the skin on your face to near-infrared light. This can be done using a mask, wand-like tool, or tray which essentially lays across the top of your face.
Essentially, these tools will shine near-infrared light on your face for 10-20 minutes, depending on your model. The treatment doesn’t use any chemicals and there are no known negative side effects. Most dermatologists offer the service, though you can also use more affordable at-home products, too. Dr. Eram Ilyas, who works at a dermatology group in Pennsylvania, recommends the ORA LED Face Mask, though we recommend speaking with your dermatologist for their recommendation for your specific skin.
6. Improve circulation with sculpting stones
Another trending tool for skin health are sculpting stones, also known as gua sha. These originate in Chinese medicine, and are generally used to reduce lymphatic buildup and enhance circulation. With time, this can support overall skin health and reductions in inflammation.
A pilot study showed that short gua sha treatments led to increased circulation and reduced pain in the areas where it was applied (in this study, researchers used gua sha on different regions of the back). Anecdotally, individuals see more skin firmness and less inflammation when using a tool like gua sha. You move the stone across moisturized skin in broad strokes, helping massage the tissue and move any lymphatic buildup out of the face and neck.
Gua shas used to be various types of stone, particularly jade, but many dermatologists recommend you use stainless steel gua shas to avoid any bacterial accumulation. Sacheu Beauty is an Asian American/Pacific Islander (AAPI)-owned business which sells stainless steel gua shas. This is an easy tool to add to your skin health routine!
Supporting your skin’s health as you get older will support your overall well-being, and ensure that as you age, your skin is given all the support it needs to thrive.
Remember—it’s never too late to start as consistency and an established daily routine all add up. The best foundation we can wear is not the most expensive brand but it’s healthy, glowing skin!
“Aging is a fact of life. Looking your age is NOT.”Dr. Howard Murad