I’ll go to great lengths to improve the texture of my skin and prevent wrinkles and fine lines to the best of my ability. I’ve been applying sunscreen with religious fervor and wearing a floppy, somewhat unattractive sun hat since my early twenties. I’ve even tried to condition myself to sleep on my back (sadly, that one didn’t stick). But, as gorgeous as 50-year-old Tess Christian is, there’s no way I’m following in this UK woman’s footsteps and refusing to smile for the sake of wrinkle-free skin. We have to draw a line in the sand somewhere–and quality of life seems like a good place to start.
Although we should expect and even embrace some natural signs of aging, experts say we can prevent some wrinkles from forming by using products that contain effective ingredients, eating the right foods and even changing our sleeping habits. Here are 11 tips from four dermatologists who know how to achieve great, wrinkle-free skin.
1. Use sun protection every day. There isn’t a doctor out there who won’t recommend using SPF 30 each and every day, rain or shine. “My number one piece of advice is sun protection–every day,” says New York City Dermatologist Dr. Hadley C. King. “Studies show that people who use sun protection every day regardless of the weather age better than people who only use sun protection when they think it’s particularly sunny or they’ll be spending more time outside.”
2. Wear sunglasses. “To help prevent wrinkles, wear sunglasses as often as possible, even in cold weather–this will help prevent you from squinting in the sun which can cause wrinkles,” Dr. David E. Bank, director of The Center for Dermatology, Laser & Cosmetic Surgery says.
3. Don’t smoke. There are plenty of health reasons you shouldn’t smoke, but if you need a beauty one, here it is: smoking increases the rate in which your skin ages by limiting blood flow to your skin. It’s also responsible for creating those little lines around the mouth, otherwise known as the “pack a day pout.”
4. Sleep on your back. “Little known habits can also lead to unwanted wrinkles on the face, including the way you sleep,” says Dr. Jill Waibel at Miami Dermatology & Laser Institute. “Try and sleep on your back as much as possible as sleeping on your side can cause wrinkles on the cheeks and chin due to pressure. Use two pillows as this won’t squash your face. Most importantly, make sure you are getting your required amount of sleep. Your body needs sleep in order to turn over new cells in the body, which will help skin look refreshed and rejuvenated.”
5. Use a better pillow. No matter how many times I’ve tried, I can’t get a decent night’s rest on my back, but help in the form of a better pillow actually exists and could prevent wrinkles. “Getting enough sleep on a regular basis is essential to maintain our faces,” King says. “And because most of us end up with more wrinkles on the side that we sleep on, the Nurse Jamie Beauty Bear Age Delay Pillow is a great tool.”
6. Drink water and eat foods that benefit your skin. “Your skin is a direct reflection of your health and one of the easiest and best ways to keep your skin healthy and prevent wrinkles is by doing so from the inside out,” Waibel says. “Make sure you’re drinking lots of water as dehydration can cause wrinkles and pores to be more prominent and visible. Fruits like pomegranates and blueberries contain antioxidants that fight free radicals, which have been linked to causing a number of skin issues including wrinkling and sagging.”
Bank adds that because our skin bears the brunt of so many environmental factors like sun radiation and toxins, it’s especially susceptible to weakened defense against damaging free radicals. Some foods can actually help. “Carotenoids, found in carrots, are your protection from these everyday pollutants and will prevent wrinkles,” Bank says. “Additionally, olive oil contains four major antioxidants, including Vitamin A and Vitamin E. The Vitamin E accounts for anti-aging benefits because it helps restore skin elasticity, therefore helping to reduce wrinkles. Coconut is not only highly nutritious and rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals, it also helps support the natural chemical balance of the skin to help to prevent wrinkles.”
7. Limit your sugar intake. “Stay away from excessive amounts of sugar, as too much can cause glycation, a process that occurs when excess amounts of sugar are in the body,” Waibel says. “The excess sugar molecules join together with protein molecules and create advanced glycation end products (AGEs), which are foreign to the body. These new AGEs affect protein fibers–which happen to be collagen and elastin–and as a result contribute to more wrinkles and lines on the face.”
8. Repair your skin while you sleep. Nighttime is the right time to allow products with effective ingredients to absorb into your skin and do their job. Dr. Terry Loong, an Integrative Holistic Skin Doctor, recommends using The Body Shop Drops of Youth Bouncy Sleeping Mask, which is enriched with Edelweiss stem cells, because she says it seals in other skincare products and provides deep conditioning, allowing you to wake up in the morning with hydrated, plumped skin. Other recommended nighttime products include Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream Skin Protectant Nighttime Miracle Moisturizer and Philosophy Miracle Worker Overnight.
9. Develop a healthy skin regimen. Waibel recommends starting your day with a gentle cleanser like Cetaphil and then applying the most active ingredients first. “I recommend SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic Acid, which is a serum that helps build collagen and fight off signs of photoaging. Always apply sunscreen in the morning as it doesn’t just protect skin from painful sunburns and potential cancer, it also works to prevent wrinkles, spotting, and fine lines. Keep your skin moisturized after showers with Cetaphil lotion and oils like Neutrogena Sesame Oil or Bio Oil. Before bed, apply Retin-A as it can aid the natural process of repairing your skin.”
King says she believes topical retinoids are the most effective topical anti-aging products. “Ask your dermatologist for a prescription like Tazorac, or try an otc retinol.” In-office treatments can do a lot, she says, but she also recommends an at-home device like FDA-approved Truth Vitality Lux Renew, which she says combines the anti-aging properties of ultrasound and LED.
10. Limit unnecessary facial movements when possible. No one is suggesting that you freeze your face in time and show no signs of joy or sadness, but Bank says “facial exercises,” movements you may not even be aware of making, could create unwanted wrinkles. “Facial wrinkles occur due to two factors: gravity pulling on muscles and the natural breakdown of skin elasticity due to aging (the lack of moisture and sun exposure accelerate the effects of gravity and aging). Facial exercises pull skin too much, and once skin begins to lose elasticity, wrinkles can develop. Constantly furrowing the brow, squinting or puckering your lips–even smiling–will create wrinkles or worsen those you have.”
11. Consider Botox. Does the “B” word still scare you? Many skin experts recommend this super popular procedure because it’s one of the most effective ways to stop wrinkles dead in their tracks. “Botox helps relax frown lines and soften wrinkles around the eyes known as ‘Crow’s Feet’ as well as the fine lines on your forehead,” Bank says. “Most appointments take 30 minutes or less, making these treatments very popular with anybody who wants visible results without a lengthy recovery. All exercise strengthens, tightens, and tones muscles. They do not however, do anything to tighten the skin. In fact, repetitive muscle contraction can lead to further collagen breakdown. That’s why Botox is used to treat excessive muscle action thus helping to reduce wrinkles.”