For many people, the quest for younger-looking skin is a constant battle. Pharmaceutical companies have produced countless numbers of expensive pills, lotions, and masks that boast the ability to prevent or reduce the signs of aging, but at what cost?
Bombarding skin cells with harsh chemicals can have counterproductive effects which may not appear for many years, but eventually the damage shows itself in the form of skin disease, accelerated aging, and toxic build up in other organs.
Fortunately, there are natural alternatives for combating wrinkles which are effective, inexpensive, and 100% better for your body.
1. Say “No” to Soap
If you’re someone who likes to wash your face in the morning to wake up, use warm water only and pass on the soap. After work, post gym workout, or before bed opt for a moisturizing cleanser instead of soap which will strip your skin of natural oils it needs to stay healthy.
There’s another reason you should stop putting soap on your face too. Your skin’s natural barrier is made up of acid mantle. When the pH scale shows 7, it is neutral. Anything below that is acidic and above it is alkaline. The skin’s pH balance is typically between 4 and 6.5, even when the skin is very oily. Soap, on the other hand, is extremely alkaline and goes towards the other extreme. So, if you use soap on your skin, it messes with its pH balance and acid mantle, which can make skin conditions worse.
Alternately, you can use a cleanser such as witch hazel or tea tree oil to remove makeup, dirt, and other contaminants from pores. Or, if you absolutely must wash your face with a favorite soap, be sure to moisturize well afterward to keep your skin looking young and free of wrinkles.
2. Don’t Overwash
The idea that one should wash their face several times each day in order to maintain a beautiful, youthful appearance is something we now know to be untrue. Chemicals in most tap water will strip your face of protective oils without the help of soap. Even if your skin feels greasy and you’re hoping to fight off a breakout, you can still overwash your face, and you might even cause infection. As over-washing strips natural oils, it ends up causing the opposite of what you want to have happen – the skin produces even more oils, so you will find yourself battling a losing battle.
Try to keep to one or two washings a day at most.
3. Exfoliate Wisely
The skin on your face is sensitive. If you scrub too hard, it will leave it red and sore. You don’t need to scrub hard to exfoliate, just use gentle circular motions with your washcloth and that will get your face clean, without stripping it of all the natural oils. Alpha-hydroxy acids, including citric, tartaric, lactic, malic, and gycolic acids, are all outstanding exfoliates that can be found in many common foods, such as oranges, lemons, grapes, yogurt, apples, pears, and even sugar. When applied, alpha-hydroxy acids help to dissolve the bonds between old and new skin cells, causing the old dead skin to flake away. In turn, you’ll reveal new skin that shows fewer fine lines, and generally has a younger appearance.
4. Hydrate with Healthy Oils
Dry skin is far more prone to damage than healthy, moisturized skin. That said, choosing the right moisturizer, something natural and lightweight that doesn’t leave your face feeling greasy, is very important.
For those adverse to the idea of putting any kind of oil on their skin, rosehip seed oil is high in natural vitamin A, lightweight, and has no odor. Argan oil is high in Vitamin E, antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids which work together protect and rejuvenate skin by helping the skin cells make healthy membranes, reduce inflammation and promote collagen production. Coconut oil is especially good for sensitive skin, it also contains important fatty acids for hydrating skin and offers antibacterial and antifungal properties. Avocado oil is a rich emollient, making it ideal for those with dry, itchy, or aging skin.
5. Have Some High-Quality Protein
Protein is used every single day to keep the body going. Because it is used to develop, grow and maintain just about every part of our body, including our skin. If your skin is dull, heals slowly, and retains wrinkles, your diet may be to blame. Protein contains amino acids L-lysine and L-proline, which are very important in the creation of collagen in your body. Collagen gives structure to your skin’s tissues. As you get older, your collagen breaks down, which may lead to wrinkles. That means that eating a diet higher in protein will help fortify your collagen levels and therefore make your skin thicker and less prone to wrinkles.
Foods such as eggs, chicken, bone broth and cold-water fish like salmon, mackerel, tuna, and sardines, as well as some plant foods like hemp seeds, are excellent sources of high-quality proteins that our body needs to regenerate strong, healthy skin cells. You can also purchase collagen peptides to significantly boost your collagen intake. Here’s a great recipe for making your own collagen rich drink.
6. Get Your Vitamin C
Strawberries, tomatoes, kiwi fruit, bell peppers, kale, broccoli, and, the most obvious, oranges, are just some of the foods high in L-ascorbic acid – also known as Vitamin C – that our bodies need to synthesize collagen. Without collagen, skin loses elasticity which leads to wrinkles and sagging. The recommended daily intake of vitamin C is 75 mg for women and 90 mg for men – if you smoke, you need 35 mg more each day.
In addition to getting more vitamin C in your diet, you may want to apply it topically too. When applied to the skin directly, the antioxidant neutralizes free radicals that contribute to damage and premature aging. Free radicals are molecules with an unpaired electron, and when they steal an electron from one of the proteins in a strand of collagen, it creates a tiny break in the strand. The more breaks that occur, the more damage you’ll see in your skin, including wrinkles. As vitamin C is an electron donor, it can help reverse and prevent those signs of aging.
Of course, there are lots of pricey vitamin C creams, but you can make your own natural vitamin C serum that’s even more effective without the high price tag.
Here’s what you need:
- 1 tsp vitamin C powder
- 1 tsp distilled or filtered water
- 1 tsp glycerin, optional
- 1/8 tsp vitamin E, optional
- 1 small dark glass bottle
Here’s what you do:
- Mix all of the ingredients in a small bowl until the granules have dissolved. If you decide not to use vitamin E or glycerin, add an extra teaspoon of water so that the serum isn’t too strong.
- Transfer the mixture to your dark glass bottle.
- Use once a day, preferably in the evening after cleansing and toning, and before moisturizing. Allow it to soak in and then apply your moisturizer.
7. Avoid Cigarette Smoke
Studies have shown that cigarette smoke is damaging to your skin, among the very long list of other harmful effects. If you are frequently exposed to secondhand smoke, find ways to avoid it. Secondhand is actually worse than smoking because there is no filter between the toxic chemicals and your lungs.
Smoking accelerates aging, in fact, research has found that on average, smokers look 1.4 years older than non-smokers. That’s because it hampers that blood supply that keeps your skin tissues looking supple and healthy. Cigarette smoke not only contributes to wrinkles, but it can cause the skin to look gray and gaunt. It contains carbon monoxide, which displaces the oxygen in the skin, and nicotine, which reduces blood flow, and leaves the skin dry and discolored. Smoking cigarettes also depletes many nutrients, like that all-important vitamin C, which helps protect and repair skin damage.
If you currently smoke and want to quit in order to reduce signs of aging, try chewing on licorice root to reduce cravings. There is a wealth of information that can be found online to help, do a little research and you’re likely to find one that works for you. Today.com offers an excellent article on 14 natural ways to stop smoking that can be found here.
8. Wear a Hat
While some sunlight is good for vitamin D production, too much exposure to harmful UV radiation can lead to sun damaged skin. Before you go slathering yourself with sunscreen, do your face a favor and pick up a wide brimmed hat before your go outdoors.
9. Invest in Glasses
Whether you use them for reading or to shade your eyes from the sun, wearing glasses may help you look younger longer. Repetitive motions like squinting can overwork your face muscles, causing grooves to form under the skin. Those grooves translate into wrinkles on the surface.
10. Sleep on Your Back
There’s nothing like falling face down into your bed after a long, challenging day, but if you sleep like this night after night, with your face dug deep into your pillow, it could lead to permanent wrinkling. Think about those lines you wake up with in the morning and just imagine what that would look like if they were permanent. Studies have proven that sleeping in any position other than on the back eventually leads to wrinkles. For those who sleep on their side, creases form in the cheeks and chin from being compressed for extended periods of time. Face-down sleepers tend to have furrowed brows for the same reason.
The American Academy of Dermatology has warned against side and stomach sleeping and recommends sleeping on your back instead. You might also want to invest in a silk pillowcase as they’re more gentle on your face. Dermatologists have said that those silk fibers can help the skin retain its moisture overnight, which is a plus for smoother, unwrinkled skin.
11. Enjoy Some Dark Chocolate
Catechins, which are antioxidants naturally found in cocoa, are great for your skin, so here’s your excuse to indulge in some dark chocolate! Researchers have found that cacao beans – a key ingredient in chocolate – offer an added benefit in that they help to prevent wrinkles.
A recent study out of Seoul National University in Korea suggested cacao could “significantly” reduce wrinkles on the skin caused by exposure to the sun. The researchers reported that the cocoa extract may offer a protective effect against wrinkles or dark spots on the skin by halting the breakdown of the dermal matrix, which leads to an overall reduction in wrinkle formation. It works to boost the skin by increasing blood flow as well as improving hydration and skin density.
Enjoy a small piece of dark chocolate as a snack, dessert, or even as hot cocoa – just be sure that it contains at least 70% cacao in order to receive the benefits.
12. Add More Turmeric To Your Meals
Sun damage is a sure path to premature aging, with exposure to the sun’s rays resulting in all sorts of problems. Not only does it cause wrinkling, but sagging, reduced skin elasticity, dark spots, freckling and spider veins. While wearing a hat and putting on sunscreen when you go outside is a must to support skin health and prevent wrinkles, turmeric has been found in scientific studies to prevent many of those adverse effects.
Research on hairless mice, which included exposing rodents to long-term, low doses of UVB rays and then applying a turmeric extract to their skin twice a day, showed that the mice didn’t suffer the consequences they normally would from chronic UVB light. They had none of the effects typically expected, including wrinkles, skin thickening, loss of elasticity, changes in skin pigmentation and larger blood vessels. The scientists noted that it was so effective because radiation increases the expression of an enzyme called MMP-2. That enzyme, when activated, is known to degrade collagen between the middle and outer layer of the skin. The bottom line is that turmeric prevents sun damage because of its ability to inhibit levels of MMP-2 from increasing.
While this bright yellow spice is commonly used in curries, you can add it to your eggs in the morning or use it in stir-fries.
13. Cut Back on Sugar
You’ve probably already heard that sugar is one of the biggest contributors to many of the health problems we’re facing today – you know that it’s linked to obesity and diabetes, but did you know that it can even cause wrinkles? It’s so bad that research has even shown that a diet high in sugar and refined carbs can be more aging to the skin than spending a lifetime lounging in the sun.
Dr. Patricia Farris, a physician specializing in aging skin, explains that the link between sugar and premature aging lies in a process called ‘glycation,’ which is a chemical process that occurs when blood sugar levels become excessively high. Sugar molecules then circulate in the blood and bind to other components to form substances known as protein-sugar complexes or advanced glycation end-products (AGEs). These can be found in virtually all organ systems around the body and trigger an inflammatory response, causing tissue damage and premature aging.
Reducing your sugar intake can, therefore, help protect collagen and elastin in your skin, which when damaged, leads to wrinkles. Remember, sugar can be found in many different places, not only table sugar, soda, and candy, but it’s often in processed foods, including soups, sauces, bread, and many other places. By eating a diet focused on whole foods from the earth, you’ll naturally lower your sugar intake.