What most of us wouldn’t give to be a teenager again, from the lack of bills to the youthful, line-free faces we once enjoyed. While, short of moving back in with our parents, there’s little we can do about the former, stopping the aging process in its tracks may be more feasible than you’d imagine.
Every day, we’re engaging in habits that can make our skin and overall health suffer, aging us in the process. From the food we eat to the way we wash our faces, these seemingly minor decisions can end up making us years older than our chronological age in the long run.
So, what’s the solution? Before you start shelling tons of cash on every dubious pill and potion at your local pharmacy, find out what the pros know about staying youthful by discovering these doctor-approved anti-aging tips. No matter your current age, you can start feeling more energetic and vibrant today with the 50 Ways to Feel Younger Now!
One of the easiest ways to turn back the clock is to make topical retinoids part of your skincare arsenal. While they can be irritating to certain individuals with sensitive skin, they can also provide a serious line of defense against wrinkles. “An easy at-home regimen would be using a retinol cream,” says Dr. John Kahan, a surgeon who treats patients at Beverly Hills Med Spa. “Retinol is a form of vitamin A and it helps with fine lines, uneven skin tone, dark spots, and texturized skin.”
Dr. Ayelet Mizrachi-Jonisch, a dermatologist at New York-based CareMount Medical, echoes his sentiments, noting that these vitamin A-based treatments can stop the aging process before it starts. “[A] prescribed retinoid is always a good idea for maintenance of good skin health and prevention of photo aging,” she says.
Don’t let those little indulgences turn into extra pounds; if you do, you might just find yourself looking older than you actually are. “Weight gain is also perceived as aging in several areas,” says Dr. Joshua D. Zuckerman, MD, FACS, a board-certified plastic surgeon practicing in Manhattan. “For example, submental fat, which is located below the chin, significantly changes how the lower face is viewed.”
Sugar does more than just rot your teeth, it’s also a major contributor to the loss of firmness in the skin, which can age you significantly. “Focus on a balanced diet with plenty of lean protein and vegetables and avoid sugar,” suggests Dr. Fred Pescatore, a natural health physician. “Poor diets that are high in sugar have been linked to advanced glycation end products (AGEs) which cause wrinkles and loss of collagen and elastin.”
Drinking an adequate amount of water throughout the day can help keep your skin healthy and youthful-looking. While the amount of water you need depends on your size and activity level, sipping water throughout the day and never letting yourself get thirsty is a good guideline.
“Not drinking enough can result in an increased appearance of wrinkles and lines and creates more dry areas and dullness,” says clinical nutritionist Ariane Hundt. “Drinking enough is key to keeping a healthy glow and that dewy appearance.”
Those late nights you pulled in college are doing no favors to your skin. In fact, they could be the reason you’re looking a little worse for wear. “Sleep is one of the most important physiological processes,” says Sarah Greenfield, a registered dietician and Director of Nutrition and Education for HUM Nutrition. “While we are sleeping, our bodies are repairing, detoxifying and our hormones are being balanced. The lining of the GI tract is turning over to ensure your body can absorb all the nutrients you are eating to keep your skin healthy and happy. Adequate sleep improves circulation around the eyes decreasing puffiness and dryness.”
Every sunburn counts. In fact, “many studies show that repeated sun burns as a child lead to much higher cases of skin cancers and skin damage as an adult,” says Dr. David Shafer, founder of Manhattan’s Shafer Plastic Surgery. So take every trip into the sun with the same precautions. Doing so might just fend off those early signs of aging you’re trying to avoid. Beginning from when you’re a “young [kid], it is important to focus on prevention, such as using an adequate sunscreen or protective clothing,” explains Dr. Shafer. For more ways to stop the clock, turn to these 20 Zero Belly Habits For Aging!
The best offense is a good defense when it comes to staving off wrinkles. Like Dr. Shafer mentioned previously, getting adequate sun protection is one of the best things you can do for your skin when it comes to slowing down the aging process. “The first line of defense is prevention,” says Dr. Shafer. “Either wearing sunscreen or physical protective barrier clothing and hats are essential for protecting the skin.”
Think you can skip the shower after the gym? Think again. Washing your face post-workout can help keep dead skin and other grime from settling into your pores, making them look larger, a sure sign of aging. “Wash your face twice daily, especially after sweating heavily while working or exercising,” says Dr. Ross Levy, MD, FAAD, a dermatologist with New York’s CareMount Medical.
It probably comes as no surprise that smoking is bad for your health—as it increases your risk of cancer and other serious health issues—but not everyone realizes what a major impact it can have on your appearance. Even if you only smoke occasionally, you’re making yourself look older and sicker with every puff. “Choices such as smoking have a profound effect on the skin as the smoke and nicotine starve the precious cells of oxygen and nutrition,” says Dr. Shafer.
Don’t assume that you’re already too late to fix the signs of aging; late is better than never.
“While it is never too late, the sooner one starts, the better,” says Dr. Adam Kolker, a Manhattan-based plastic surgeon. “When one begins to address issues too late in life the solutions may be less effective.”
Whether you’re at the point where you’re ready to start having fillers or are just looking to maintain your current appearance, the way you take care of your skin can make a major difference. “It’s essential to have a good at-home skincare routine which can help improve the skin,” says Dr. Shafer. Doing so can even help the procedures your dermatologist or surgeon performs last longer, he says.
While you do want to keep your face clean, scrubbing it may exacerbate existing dermatological issues, including wrinkles. “Did you know that scrubbing away at your skin can cause aging?” says Dr. Ben Johnson, MD, founder of holistic beauty brand Osmosis Pur Medical Skincare. “By over exfoliating you’re actually removing the only protective barrier that your skin has.”
Anti-aging creams can be helpful, but if you want meaningful change in the health and appearance of your skin, start with your food choices and work outward.
“Most Americans want a cream that you can slap on and look great and never age,” says Functional Nutritionist Susan Barendregt. “We need to go the whole way and heal from the inside.”
That golden glow isn’t worth it in the long run. If you’re trying to turn back the hands of time, tanning is a serious no-no. “Skin ages prematurely each time a person ‘gets a tan,’” says Dr. Levy. If you can’t brave the beach in your current pale state, opt for a sunless tanner instead. Get healthy and stay that way starting today with the 50 Foods That Slash Your Cancer Risk!
Fatty fish and omega-3-rich seeds can help your skin turn over a new leaf, leaving you looking younger in no time. “Omega-3 fats found in fish and fish oil, flaxseed, chia seed and walnuts are a key component of cell membranes and your body needs them to renew your skin cells. So, many people go on low-fat diets, and then miss out on these healthy fats and end up with dry, flaky or inflamed skin as a result,” says Samantha Scruggs, a registered dietician. Omega-3s aren’t the only way to turn your health around in a hurry; the 40 10-Second Health Fixes will have you looking and feeling better in an instant.
Bulking up on antioxidants, whether through fresh fruits and vegetables or supplementation, can make your skin healthier, more resilient, and have you looking younger in no time.
“Adding antioxidants and supplements to your daily nutrition promotes elasticity and hydration. I recommend products that feature the super-antioxidant, Pycnogenol®, to support skin health,” says Dr. Pescatore. “Research shows this proprietary extract from French maritime pine bark helps reduce the appearance of fine lines and promotes skin hydration by encouraging the body’s natural production of collagen and hyaluronic acid.”
Switching up your pillowcase can do more than just ensure a better night’s sleep. Sleeping on a silk pillowcase can also help fend off fine lines. “Silk pillowcases can help your skin retain its natural moisture and reduce the appearance of facial wrinkles. I didn’t fully appreciate the benefits until I started using one myself,” says Dr. Nina Watson, a board certified diagnostic radiologist practicing in New York.
Fatty fish isn’t the only way to increase your intake of skin-firming omega-3s; walnuts are also a good choice for those who avoid animal-based proteins. “The omega-3s in walnuts help improve the elasticity of the skin. Walnuts also boost collagen production,” says Dr. Faisal Tawwab, MD, a board-certified physician in Orlando. Make healthy protein a priority in your diet by adding the 25 Best Protein Snacks at the Supermarketto your shopping list!
That steamy shower may be relaxing, but it could be sapping your skin of essential moisture, making you look older in the process. “Avoid hot showers and baths; they’ll dry out skin more than anything else,” says Caroline Nuytten, a licensed esthetician at Manhattan’s Metro Integrative Pharmacy.
You don’t have to be afraid of healthy oils in your food, and you don’t have to be afraid of them in your skincare routine, either. In fact, oil-based products can keep your skin hydrated and reduce your risk of damage.
“I love oils to hydrate the skin,” says Dr. Dendy Engelman, dermatologic surgeon at Manhattan Dermatology and Cosmetic Surgery. “They penetrate deeply in the skin and hydrate beautifully without leaving a greasy feel. Look for oils with Vitamin E and Pro-Vitamin B5 to hydrate and lock in moisture immediately so even though you are rinsing the product off you are still able to benefit from it. Additionally, it is less drying as with oil facial cleansers, the oil binds to oil (sebum) without stripping natural oils from your skin so it’s much gentler than a soap cleanser.”
While you probably can’t control crying babies on planes, traffic jams, or the sound of a garbage truck outside your window at 5 a.m., trying to de-stress as much and as often as possible can help you enjoy a more youthful-looking complexion. Getting enough sleep, exercising, and meditating can all help you live with less stress. “Stress directly affects our body’s biochemistry by causing the release of specific stress hormones. These hormones have been shown to directly increase inflammation and reduce our body’s ability to repair damage. Excess inflammation can make the skin less plump by breaking down collagen,” says Dr. Tara Nayak, a Philadelphia-based naturopathic physician. Start reducing stress and feeling better in a hurry by adding the 50 Foods That Make You Happy to your regular line-up!
It may seem counterintuitive, but over-cleansing your face can speed up the aging process, and the oily creams used to combat dryness can cause breakouts. “One of the most common mistakes is using a soap that’s too harsh for their skin, drying it out and then reaching for heavy moisturizers,” says Dr. Cynthia Bailey, a dermatologist and founder of DrBaileySkinCare.com, noting that the most effective cleansers are often the mildest ones.
Think skipping your skincare routine is no big deal? Unfortunately, it can actually expedite the aging process. “Hygiene is another factor which can either help or hurt your skin as neglected skin shows signs of aging and trauma much faster than someone who treats their skin with respect,” says Dr. Shafer.
While the occasional glass of red wine can be a heart-healthy choice, booze, in general, is the enemy of healthy, line-free skin. If you want to look younger, drinking less alcohol is the way to go, says Dr. Levy.
While past generations skimped on dietary fat whenever possible, new research suggests that enjoying enough healthy fat can improve your cardiovascular health, boost circulation, and keep your skin looking young. “Eating lots of healthy fats is really important for skin. Skin cells renew very frequently, so they are very much affected by what you eat, and quickly. One of the first changes I see in people who change their diet, especially increasing fat intake (don’t be afraid of fat!) is improvements in their skin – looking more radiant, younger, healthier and just having an appearance of a healthy glow. You should make sure you incorporate a healthy fat into every meal,” says Scruggs.
If you want to avoid pock marks and scarring that can make you look older, stop picking at your skin pronto. “Stop picking at those pesky breakouts and let them come out on their own or use natural products to help eliminate them,” says Dr. Johnson. “Any time you pick or pull at your skin you’re causing damage and creating, irritation, scars, and yes even wrinkles!
Candy isn’t going to do any favors for your skin, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy something sweet from time to time. In fact, honey might just help plump your skin and maintain your ageless look. “This sweet treat is a natural humectant, meaning it attracts water. When it comes to your skin, consuming honey helps draw water from the mineral tissues to the surface of the skin, keeping it moisturized, supple and flake-free,” says Dr. Christopher Calapai, D.O, a New York-based osteopathic physician certified in family medicine and anti-aging medicine.
Your skin issues are deeper-seated than you think. Getting your gut health in order is the first step toward younger skin. “Most people do not link their skin health directly to their digestion. However, this is long held knowledge in the field of Naturopathic Medicine,” says Dr. Nayak. “We know that if we clean up the diet, improve digestion and get the bowels moving, and restore healthy gut bacteria, skin often improves naturally!” Whip that gut into shape and enjoy a more youthful look by making the 40 Superfoods to Eat After 40 part of your routine!
Inflammation is one of the main causes of skin that looks weathered and worn before its time. “The best way to keep the skin healthy and slow the aging process in the skin is to reduce inflammation in the dermis of the skin. Inflammation reduces blood flow to the dermis, causes the degradation of elastin and collagen in the dermis (resulting in wrinkles), and causes the loss of dermal fat (reducing the plumpness of the skin),” says Dr. Barry Sears, founder of the Zone Diet.
The same treatment you use for the common cold can have serious benefits when it comes to keeping your skin looking hydrated and radiant. “Using a humidifier will help you out a lot, both inside and outside,” says Nuytten, who recommends that clients make humidifiers part of their skincare and overall health routine each year before winter.
An orange here, a squeeze of lemon there, and you’ll be well on your way to a softer, more supple complexion. “Vitamin C is also an important part of collagen, the protein that connects your cells together to create your skin’s elasticity and gives it structure. Make sure you are eating lots of citrus fruits daily as well to get enough vitamin C so your body will make the collagen it needs to create new skin scaffolding. One serving of a citrus fruit daily should do it!” says Scruggs.
A few antioxidant-rich bell peppers on your menu could be the key to turning back the clock and fending off future damage. “Green, yellow, and red peppers help reduce the chance of wrinkles near the eyes,” says Dr. Tawwab. “They also contain antioxidants, which can help protect your skin from the sun.”
Just because you have naturally tan skin or are venturing out on a cloudy day doesn’t mean you can skip the SPF. Any exposure to the sun without SPF can damage your skin and make you look older. “When outdoors, apply a sunscreen with a protection factor of at least 30 or higher to exposed skin and wear a hat,” suggests Dr. Levy.
Pay special attention to what’s below your face you’re using sunscreen or moisturizer. The thinner skin on your neck and chest tends to age faster than the skin on your face and can make you look older when it’s not properly cared for. “It’s important not to forget the decolletage, or neck, region as well when applying,” says Dr. Zuckerman.
Even those of us who regularly apply sunscreen often forget a part of our face that can give away our age in an instant: our lips. To combat wrinkly lips, make sure you’re giving them some TLC. “Apply lip balm with an SPF rating of at least 30 to your lips. Reapply every two hours, just as you would with sunscreen,” says Dr. Mizrachi-Jonisch.
Don’t let a pretty package or celebrities in commercials fool you into thinking that drugstore cream is a miracle anti-aging product. “Someone who is just using over the counter (OTC) treatments that they find in the drugstore aisles may be doing themselves as a disservice as they may not be using the appropriate product or might not have a product with high enough percentage of active ingredient,” says Dr. Shafer. “OTC does have significant marketing, so it’s important not to fall into the trap of being enticed by sexy or exciting marketing or believing false promises about the effectiveness of the products.”
While taking care of your skin can help you look younger, focusing on whole-body health will yield far greater results. “What’s good for your body is good for your skin,” says Dr. Mizrachi-Jonisch. “Hydrate and eat well. Stay active as possible. And be positive—every cell in your body benefits.” Turn back the clock and live a longer, healthier life with the 50 Fountain of Youth Secrets!
Microneedling may sound unpleasant, but this treatment is both relatively pain-free and an effective way of increasing your skin’s natural collagen production, filling in existing fine lines and acne scarring, according to Dr. Shafer.
Stop inflammation that can spur the development of fine lines and wrinkles by making turmeric your spice of choice.”Turmeric, which helps with internal inflammation, can help with external inflammation,” says Karen Wright, a certified nutrition specialist and functional nutritionist.
Your favorite sushi appetizer is also a stellar addition to your anti-aging routine. “Collagen, the fibrous protein that keeps skin firm and wrinkle-free, begins to decline in your 20s. Eating edamame, a food rich in soy, can help preserve collagen. Soy contains isoflavones–a natural compound that is capable of exerting estrogen-like effects,” says Dr. Calapai.
Hands are often one of the parts of the body that show signs of aging, from dark spots to crepey skin, soonest. For more youthful-looking skin, apply moisturizer after you wash your hands and wear gloves outside when the weather dips, says Nuytten.
If you’ve been using coconut oil as a moisturizer, you might be doing yourself a disservice and speeding up the aging process. “Some people swear by using pure coconut oil as a moisturizer for the skin and hair. Coconut oil can be a great emollient because it loves water and is attracted it, otherwise known as ‘hydrophilic.’ However, using pure coconut can actually pull water OUT of your skin because coconut is SO hydrophilic,” says Dr. Nayak.
Don’t wait to find out if that’s just a freckle or something more sinister. Getting any new spots checked out by a dermatologist is essential for your well-being. “Not all ‘age spots’ are simply ‘age spots,’” says Dr. Levy. “Only an evaluation of the skin by a certified dermatologist can determine the difference between potentially precancerous skin conditions and harmless skin marks that affect our appearance and self-esteem more than our health.”
Yes, even though you’re likely desparate to wear a tanktop and shorts during the summer months, Dr. Jeffrey P. Schachne, a dermatologist with CareMount Medical suggests that more clothing coverage will be safer for your skin. “[Wear] light cotton long sleeve/long pants clothing during the summer season,” he says.
Having a laser anywhere near your face can sound more like a torture scene from a James Bond movie than a beauty treatment, but don’t fear: today’s laser treatments are virtually painless and can yield major results. Dr. Kahan suggests that patients use treatments like the Fraxel laser to minimize the appearance of age-related skin issues. “This IPL (Intense Pulsated Light) laser is a great treatment option for sun damage, rough textured skin, brown spots, and fine lines, all of which can make you look older,” he says.
Your dentist isn’t the only one who hates your soda habit; the syrupy stuff also wreaks havoc on your skin, making you age faster. “I once read a book that referred to soda as liquid Satan which always makes me laugh,” says Greenfield. “Soda does nothing beneficial for your body, it actually does more harm than anything. The massive amount of sugar from a soda changes the gut microbiome and can cause a rise in bad bacteria in the body and increases inflammation. This is not a good combo for your skin.”
Washing your skin is a good thing, but getting it so clean that it virtually shines isn’t a healthy goal. “You don’t want to go for a squeaky clean, tight feel; that’s the prelude to dermatitis. It means you’ve over-stripped your oils,” says Dr. Bailey. “Look for ingredients like witch hazel and rosewater that will remove oil but not dry and irritate skin.”
Make your skin look younger in seconds sans Botox by finishing your cleansing routine with some cold water. “Splash your face with cool water 15 times after cleansing. It ultra hydrates and plumps the skin up with water while closing the pores so dirt won’t get in!” says Dr. Nayak.
A little cherry juice could be the answer to a more restful slumber and fewer fine lines and wrinkles. “Who knew that this tangy drink naturally contains melatonin? Well, it does,” says Dr. Calapai. “And melatonin promotes sleep. Beauty sleep – enough said.” Adequate rest can help your body repair itself, making your skin look more refreshed and youthful.
More isn’t always better when it comes to aging. In fact, certain potent creams can dry out your skin and make it more susceptible to wrinkling. “It’s important to discuss with your doctor or skin care specialist which product is best for your skin,” says Dr. Shafer. “A higher percentage may not be better in all cases as you may end up with skin irritation or dryness.” Don’t let your hard work be for naught; cutting out the 20 Habits That Age You Faster will help you maintain that youthful glow.