Anti-Aging Skin Care: An Integrative Approachdate: August 8, 2012
The saying “beauty comes from within” has much truth behind it, especially when it comes to anti-aging skin care. While cleansers, creams and other products certainly contribute to healthy skin, there are highly effective “treatments” that don’t necessarily come in a jar or bottle. These days, we’re pleased to see that more and more experts are advocating an integrative approach to anti-aging skin care—one that we at Canyon Ranch have used for decades. It’s not just what you put on your skin, but what you eat, how you feel and even what is in your environment that can impact your complexion.
All of these factors need to be considered when working to keep your skin radiant and youthful. Maybe you’ve even seen the effect first-hand: Consider how your skin looked the last time you were feeling particularly stressed, and now think about how it looked after a vacation spent eating a balanced diet, exercising and relaxing. The glow of health is unmistakable.
You may not be able to control all of the factors that can contribute to complexion woes, but you don’t need to completely overhaul your lifestyle in order to achieve healthy, younger-looking skin, either. These simple techniques and tips—the perfect complement to the products in your medicine cabinet—can round out an integrative approach to your anti-aging skin care routine.
Introduce More Calm into Your Life
Yoga, tai chi and meditation can help relieve stress and anxiety, which makes them useful for your mind and your skin. Let us explain: Stress can trigger system-wide inflammation that damages skin’s collagen—its main support structure. When collagen becomes weak, skin doesn’t smooth itself out as easily after you make expressions, which leads to wrinkles. Stress also compromises skin’s barrier function, according to a study in Archives of Dermatology, meaning that moisture escapes more easily. Skin can become dry, sensitive, irritated and less able to repair itself well as a result. And, when it comes to skin care, relaxation is important for more than just your anti-aging efforts: Additional research has linked chronic stress to an increased risk for skin cancer.
Take a Hike…
…or a walk, jog or bike ride. Not only is exercise a proven stress reducer, it’s an important part of your anti-aging skin care routine as well. Aerobic activity raises your heart rate and increases circulation. As more blood travels through your body, it brings more oxygen and nutrients to its largest organ—your skin. Improved blood flow through the capillaries in skin may also improve its tone and help you appear healthier and more radiant.
Brightly colored produce such as spinach, carrots and berries feed your skin loads of antioxidants, including vitamins A, C and E, beta-carotene and others. Antioxidant vitamins, minerals and other phytonutrients fight free radicals that weaken collagen and protect against the other aging effects of damaging UV exposure and pollution. In one study of women ages 40 to 74, those with higher intakes of vitamin C had fewer wrinkles, according to The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Seafood rich in essential fatty acids such as salmon may also help slow down the formation of wrinkles, likely due to the anti-inflammatory power of omega-3s.
Skin is like a sponge: When it gets an adequate amount of moisture, it looks plump and smooth, but if it’s dry and dehydrated, it becomes stiff and shrivels. That effect can make fine lines and wrinkles in skin more noticeable. Bathing your system in plenty of water is a great healthy skin care technique, as it ensures that all organs, including skin, receive the hydration they need. You’ve likely heard the rule of thumb about drinking eight, eight-ounce glasses a day, but according to the Institute of Medicine, that number should be slightly higher: Men should aim for about 13 cups and women should try for about nine cups each day.
Avoid Very Hot Showers
As skin ages, it naturally becomes drier and produces less sebum, the oil the body makes to protect skin and keep it moisturized and smooth. A very long steamy shower can wash away that protective barrier (especially when coupled with harsh or drying soaps) and may leave your face parched, making it prone to more wrinkles. Try taking shorter showers and using warm water instead of very hot, and don’t forget to moisturize your skin afterward.
Try a Humidifier
When there’s little moisture in the air, your environment will take it from wherever there is a lot of moisture, and your skin is a prime target. A humidifier helps to counter that effect so that the water in your skin stays there and your complexion remains hydrated, smooth, healthy and younger looking.
Swear by Sunscreen
Unprotected sun exposure is a major cause of skin damage and premature aging. Ultraviolet rays produce free radicals and can even alter skin’s DNA, triggering wrinkles, redness, broken capillaries and hyperpigmentation (age spots and brown splotches). While UVB rays are strongest at midday, UVA rays beat down with the same intensity all day long—and they’re strong enough to penetrate clouds and windows. Wearing a broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher from sun up to sun down can help protect you from both UVA and UVB rays, prevent damage and keep skin looking young.
Choose a Mild Cleanser
As you move throughout your day, skin picks up dirt and other toxins from the air, plus oil can build up in and around pores. All of those things can clog pores and potentially irritate your complexion. Removing that debris each evening by washing your face allows skin to breathe and rejuvenate itself as you sleep. Choose gentle, non-soap, moisturizing cleansers to avoid drying out your complexion, then follow up with a gentle moisturizing lotion.