How sunlight harms the skin
Think back to those golden summers of your youth. Like many pre–adolescent and teenage girls, you probably donned your bikini, slathered your body with baby oil, and held those foil–covered sun reflectors under your chin in the quest for the perfect, golden tan. No one told you that decades later your skin would pay the price for those sun–soaked days in the form of dryness, wrinkles, fine lines, liver spots, and perhaps even skin cancer. Government health officials have estimated that half of a lifetime’s worth of UV exposure occurs by age 18.
One research study carried out in Australia found that people as young as 25 already had detectable photo–aged skin on their face and the back of their hands–the parts of the body that are chronically exposed to UV radiation. Research indicates that about 90 per cent of skin changes that begin in your 30s and 40s stem directly from “Photo–aging” or the cumulative effects of exposure to the sun’s UV radiation. Simply put, UV radiation–be it from the sun or a tanning bed–damages the DNA of skin cells. To make matters worse, the thinning of the earth”s protective ozone layer is believed to be amplifying UV radiation levels. Tt takes many years before enough microscopic damage accumulates to create wrinkles and other visible skin changes. Using sunscreens with a skin protection factor (SPF) of 15 or above will filter out most of these harmful UV rays. Even if you failed to use sunscreens in your youth, you can prevent further UV damage and by using them religiously throughout the year, even on the ski slope.
During all outdoor activities, including gardening, playing sports, walking, and jogging, as well as going to the beach, be sure to use a sunscreen that blocks both UV–A and UV–B radiation.Sunscreens work best when applied liberally to all exposed skin about 30 minutes before sun exposure and re–applied every couple of hours or after swimming or sweating. Don’t miss the backs of your hands, and don’t be fooled by an overcast day, UV light penetrates clouds and can still harm unprotected skin. Wearing a baseball cap or wide–brimmed hat in addition to your sunscreen offers an additional measure of protection.
How Smoking Ages the Skin
It is well–known that cigarette smoking ages people on the inside by causing lung cancer, emphysema, heart disease, and an array of other health problems. But fewer people realize that smoking also ages your appearance. Chemicals inhaled from cigarette smoke constrict tiny blood vessels in the skin, reducing the oxygen and nutrient supply to delicate facial tissues. Blood–vessel constriction lasts at least an hour after a cigarette has been snuffed out. Over many years of smoking, the oxygen and nutrient deficiencies cause skin to wrinkle prematurely, lose elasticity (the ability to “Bounce back” after being stretched). It is not unusual for the skin of longtime smokers to exhibit a grayish pallor. To make matters worse, repeatedly pursing your lips around a cigarette hastens the formation of fine vertical lines around your mouth. Squinting when smoke gets in your eyes can cause premature wrinkling of the eyelids.
Causes of Premature Skin Aging
Dieting and Skin Aging
Cyclical, significant weight loss and gain, also known as “Yo–yo” dieting, stretches the skin, causing it to lose its elasticity and making it more vulnerable to wrinkling and sagging under the force of gravity. Try to stay within 5 or 10 pounds of your ideal weight, and avoid fad or crash diets.
How Facial Expressions Age the Skin
In a sense, skin has a “Memory”. If it is repeatedly folded in the same way by muscle contractions, permanent static lines will eventually form. This is common in sailors who constantly squint to protect their eyes from wind and sun glare. It can also be true of people who smile broadly much of the time and those who scowl a lot. Wearing sunglasses outdoors is one way to prevent continuous squinting. Another is to try to become aware of undue tension in your facial muscles and to make a conscious effort to relax your face.