We live in a society that shuns its elderly and anything associated with old age. Other cultures, like the Asian or Native American cultures, value the elders for their wisdom and life experience. Asian people were influenced by Confucius and followed a principle of filial piety. Mediterranean or Latin cultures are family-focused and it’s quite usual for several generations to all live happily under one roof.
At the end of the spectrum, Westerner cultures praise individualism and independence, the attributes of youth. Any gray hair or wrinkle trigger an immediate panic attack, instead of being regarded as signs of moving on to another life stage. Cosmetic companies make millions from this phobia of aging when consumers try to maintain a youthful appearance. Americans spend over $12 billion each year trying to fight the signs of aging. While you shouldn’t be afraid of extra wrinkles, it’s best to understand how your skin works and how to keep it both healthy and healthy-looking for longer.
What Causes Wrinkles?
The skin is the body’s largest organ and its function is to protect your body from infections and germs. Your skin has several layers and is made of water, lipids, protein, and different chemicals and minerals. Three proteins, collagen, elastin and keratin, ensure its firmness, elasticity and rigidity respectively. Collagen is found in the middle layer of the skin, dermis, and makes up 75 percent of the skin. Oil-secreting glands help maintain the skin’s softness, while fat makes it wavy and give it shape.1)http://health.howstuffworks.com/skin-care/problems/beauty/skin-wrinkles1.htm
Skin regenerates every 27 days, but as time passes, the production of these substances becomes scarcer and your body is subject to aging. Aging is a natural process and cannot be prevented, although humans have always been in search of the fountain of youth. With fewer proteins, oil and fat, the skin becomes less firm, drier, it sags and creases, thus creating wrinkles.
Another cause that contributes to wrinkling is free radicals. Many chemical reactions are going on in your body every second that keeps it running. One process uses oxygen and ensures your body has enough energy to function, but it also creates free radicals. These free radicals are unstable atoms or molecules with an uneven number of electrons that can damage your skin. Sunlight and cigarette smoke also produce free radicals and damage collagen and elastin. Other cell functions release enzymes that damage collagen.2)http://www.webmd.com/beauty/cosmetic-procedures-overview-skin
You’d be surprised to find out that 90 percent of the skin wrinkles aren’t from the usual process of aging, but from excessive sun exposure and that 50 to 80 percent of the damage occurs during childhood. Exposure to the sun can lead to skin cancer if it isn’t monitored in terms of sun protection, duration and timing. Ultraviolets (UVs) damage elastin, so our skin becomes less flexible, so wrinkles appear. Premature aging of the skin is called photoaging. Your skin type can also determine the degree of damage caused by sun exposure: a fair complexion is more exposed to increased damage.3)https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/003252.htm
Smoking is also linked by some studies to more wrinkles due to the reduction in the production of new collagen. Decreased collagen results in the development of wrinkles. Many other environmental factors such as cigarette smoke and pollution can reduce collagen production and break down existing collagen. Stop tobacco use and avoid being around smokers.
- Wrinkles can also be influenced by genetic factors. Try to look at your mom or other members of the family.
- Another factor can be sudden weight loss. If you drop a lot of pounds suddenly and you don’t give enough time or help to your skin to adjust, you might develop wrinkles.
- Let’s not forget about gravity, which, paired with repeated facial muscle contractions when smiling or frowning, makes the skin sag in time.
- Last, but not least, your mood. Get plenty of sleep, rest well and live a stress-free life.
How to Prevent Wrinkles?
Wrinkles are inevitable because of aging, but we can delay their appearance. Proper skin care is vital to ensure your skin is healthy.
First of all, avoid excessive sun exposure. Use sun protection lotion with an SPF of at least 15 or 35 for a fair complexion before exposure, whether you are hitting the beach, hiking or taking a city tour. Do this even during winter, for example when skiing. Avoid exposure between mid-morning to early afternoon. Regardless of your complexion, you are at risk. Wear hats and clothing that protect your skin. However, don’t avoid sun exposure altogether, as this can lead to vitamin D deficiency, which is a cause of bone and muscle problems, diabetes, some types of cancer, high blood pressure and even depression.4)http://www.webmd.com/beauty/ss/slideshow-skin-foods
The second thing that might come to mind in the fight against wrinkles is cosmetic products, but actually a healthy skin starts with balanced nutrition, which ensures your skin gets all the nutrients it needs to be healthy.
- Water: simple things such as drinking water can do wonders to your skin. Staying hydrated by getting 8 glasses’ worth of water a day from either water or fruits and veggies. Water helps absorb nutrients, eliminate toxins and improves blood circulation.
- Selenium: you can protect your skin from the effects of free radicals by eating foods rich in selenium such as Brazilian nuts, button mushrooms, lamb, beef, shrimp, salmon, cod, tuna, sardines, oysters, crab, and whole-wheat pasta. So many choices!
- Antioxidants: fruits and veggies are powerful antioxidants that prevent the damage done by free radicals.
- Coenzyme Q10: your body also fights free radicals by producing an antioxidant called Coenzyme Q10. You can also find CoQ10 in salmon, tuna, poultry, liver, and whole grains.
- Vitamin A: fight dry skin with this vitamin found in oranges, carrots, cantaloupe, eggs, leafy greens, and low-fat dairy foods.
- Vitamin C: fights the effect of the sun with foods rich in vitamin C, such as citrus fruits, red bell peppers, kiwis, papayas, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts.
- Vitamin E: another important ally is vitamin E, which can be found in nuts, olives, seeds, asparagus, and leafy greens.
- Omega-3 and omega-6: these healthy fats keep your skin naturally moisturized and can be found in olive oils, walnuts, sardines, salmon, and mackerel.
- Green tea: is another powerful antioxidant.
Getting enough sleep also affects the way you look. Your sleeping position can also make your face more wrinkled if you sleep on your side or on your stomach with your face against the sheets. While you sleep, your body secretes human growth hormone (HGH), which is responsible for the healthy development of all body tissues, including the skin. On the other hand, if you’re sleep deprived, the stress hormone, cortisol, is released, which tends to make your skin drier and more prone to infection and damage caused by external factors.5)http://www.top10homeremedies.com/home-remedies/home-remedies-for-wrinkles.html
A thorough cleaning should be carried out twice a day. Make sure you remove your makeup and all the impurities accumulated throughout the day before going to bed.
Scrubbing your face gets rid of the dead cells and brings out a brighter complexion.
Moisturizing your skin after cleansing is vital to make sure it doesn’t dry or flake. Face creams, such as the ones containing Q10, alpha-hydroxy acids (AHA), peptides or retinoic acid (Retin-A), can help reduce the appearance of wrinkles. Research shows that retinoids are highly productive and boost your collagen, which is ideal for an even firmer skin. Studies have also found that people who use AHA products have higher sensitivity to the sun. Many cosmetics contain the same nutrients found in food and known for their wrinkle-fighting properties. Some moisturizers contain collagen and keratin.
The American Academy of Dermatology advises that over-the-counter anti-wrinkle creams and lotions may moisturize dry skin, but they do little or nothing when it comes to reversing wrinkles. The law does not require cosmetics to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), if they only promise to make someone more attractive or to moisturize their skin. However, products that claim to change the structure and function of the body, including the skin, such as anti-wrinkle creams which claim to boost collagen, are medical devices or drugs and they must be approved by the FDA. Currently, the only approved products whose safety and effectiveness in treating the signs of sun-damaged or aging skin have been studied are tretinoin cream and carbon dioxide (CO2) and erbium (Er:YAG) lasers.6)http://www.fda.gov/Cosmetics/ProductsIngredients/Products/ucm388826.htm
If you’re low on cash why not try some home remedies?
- Olive oil: you must have some olive oil in your kitchen. It’s a good source of antioxidants, like vitamins A and E, so rub some in. Or make a paste.
- Pineapple: did you know that pineapples have enzymes that make your skin more elastic, moisturize your skin, and get rid of dead cells? The fruit is also full of fibers, antioxidants, and vitamins good for your skin. Rub some pineapple on your skin and rinse it after 20 minutes.
- Lemon juice: how about squeezing some lemon juice and leaving it in for 5 to 10 minutes? Lemon juice helps exfoliate the skin, is astringent and a great cleaner.
- Carrots or bananas: you can mix either of these into a paste, apply it for a few minutes up to half an hour and rinse it off. Carrots are a great source of vitamin A, which boosts your supply of collagen and helps keep the skin nice and smooth. Bananas are rich in antioxidants, minerals and vitamins.
- Ginger: drink some ginger tea or mix it with some honey and apply the paste locally. Ginger is high in antioxidant content and it prevents the breakdown of elastin.
Special medical treatments: some people prefer to go to a practitioner and get a particular intervention.
- Dermabrasion and chemical peels: both techniques involve removing layers of the skin to reduce wrinkles, but one achieves this by scrubbing the skin, while the second through dissolving the skin. Chemical peels use an acid solution to remove old, dead skin. The solution is applied for about 15 minutes and contains a mix of lactic acid, glycolic acid, phenol, salicylic acid, or trichloroacetic acid (TCA). Newer, smoother skin will be revealed a few days after the treatment. With dermabrasion, it can take up to 10 sessions, distanced apart, before you can see the difference.
- Laser resurfacing work: it aims to reduce facial wrinkles and irregularities caused by sun damage by removing layers of the skin. It is recommended for fine lines or wrinkles around the eyes, the mouth, the forehead, or scars from acne. This is not suitable for people with active acne or stretch marks. Carbon dioxide (CO2) and erbium (Er:YAG) lasers are approved by the FDA.
- Botulinum toxin (Botox) injections: the number of botox injections done is seven times higher than in 2000, which shows it’s no longer only the celebrities who resort to it. Botox helps relax the muscles that cause expression lines. The treatment lasts for approximately four months and needs to be repeated, but if the patient doesn’t want to continue, the wrinkles will reappear, but will not look worse compared to before the treatment. It’s an easy procedure: the shots take only a couple of minutes and aren’t painful.
- Injectable cosmetic fillers: they replace subcutaneous fat or bone volume and are approved by the FDA. The injected substance can be collagen, hyaluronic acid gel, calcium hydroxylapatite, poly-L-lactic acid (PLLA) or polymethylmethacrylate beads. The effect of the wrinkle fillers lasts for around six months. Injectable cosmetic fillers are temporary because they are eventually absorbed by the body. Some human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) patients resort to fillers to reduce the signs of facial fat loss.
- Plastic surgery such as a facelift. Your doctor can advise what your best option is.
- Thermage: it involves heating up your skin to encourage your body to produce collagen. This procedure can be painful, but a single session is usually enough for good results, which will be noticeable in 4 to 6 months.
If you are under a lot of stress, one of the causes being that you worry too much about the extra wrinkles, you are prone to get even more wrinkles. Stress can thin and weaken the skin. Not to mention that when you are stressed, you frown more, which puts additional pressure on your face. Take up a hobby, meditate or listen to some music to feel less stressed. Get your mind off those wrinkles – they’re only natural.7)http://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases_conditions/hic_wrinkles/derm_treatment8)http://www.fda.gov/downloads/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/UCM241711.pdf9)http://www.webmd.com/beauty/ss/slideshow-non-surgical-facial–procedures
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