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Age is just a number – while this has certainly proven to be true, feeling young and looking the part are two different things, and the fine lines, wrinkles, gray hair, and sagging skin can have a real impact on how we perceive ourselves as we get older.
Many of us try countless creams and procedures and spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars on anti-aging products that don’t work. Thankfully, as we begin to understand aging better and what causes the changes in our appearance, there are preventative measures, lifestyle changes, and natural treatments coming out that do help.
What Causes Wrinkles?
Before you start shopping around for anti-aging products, it’s important that you understand what actually causes wrinkles in the first place. If you understand what’s happening behind the scenes of your skin, you’ll be better able to prevent aging and not be duped by a convincing sales rep at a drugstore that their cream works.
The Science of Aging Skin
As you age, your skin naturally becomes less elastic and more fragile. This is due to decreased production of collagen, a protein which forms your skin’s structure, and elastin, which provides flexibility (aka the ability to ‘bounce back’). There is also a decrease in the fat in the deeper layers of the skin, and the natural oils that provide hydration. This decreased production causes the skin to become dry, thinner, and loose, leading to saggy, wrinkly skin.
In reality, however, these natural, biological factors that lead to skin aging account for only a small amount of what actually causes us to look older. Our lifestyle and environmental factors are what speed up the natural aging process and are the reason that some of us look older than others, even if they aren’t.
Factors that Cause Wrinkles On Your Face
Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays is the biggest factor that affects how quickly our skin ages. UV rays break down the collagen and elastin fibers deep in the dermis layer of our skin. This lack of connective tissue support decreases the strength and flexibility of the skin, causing it to sag and wrinkle. The sun can also cause sun spots and other discoloration associated with aging.
- Your Best Defense: Sunscreen and protective clothing! While we do need a certain amount of sun exposure to meet our vitamin D requirements each day, make sure you protect yourself from overexposure by wearing sunscreen, wide brimmed hats, and protective clothing.
Though scientists aren’t entirely sure on the mechanism, smoking has been shown to accelerate the aging process, especially in the skin. The current thought is that smoking impacts blood supply to the skin, causing it to look old and dull. Smoking also tends to deplete the body of important nutrients, many of which are important for skin health.
Your Best Defense: Plain and simple, don’t smoke and don’t spend time around people who do.
Repeated Facial Expressions
If you were to never move your face, never smile or frown, chances are you’d have less wrinkles! This is because when we repeat certain facial expressions over and over again, such as squinting or smiling, a groove forms beneath the skin’s surface. As the elastin fibers and our skin’s flexibility decrease over time, our skin can’t spring back into place and fine lines and creases develop.
Your Best Defense: You can’t go through life expressionless, however, you can avoid things like squinting by wearing sunglasses, reading glasses, or wearing your contacts.
Can You Reverse Aging and Remove Wrinkles?
Yes, and no. You can prevent it somewhat, you can slow it down, and you can reduce fine lines and wrinkles to a certain extent, but at the end of the day, we all age and if you live long enough, you will begin to look the part!
That being said, there are various steps you can take to have incredible, glowing skin at any age. The first and most important step you want to take is in your lifestyle choices: (1, 2, 3)
- Eat a healthy diet with lots of vegetables and some fruits, especially the green and orange ones.
- Eat plenty of healthy fats like avocado, nuts, and olive oil.
- Stay hydrated by drinking lots of clean, filtered water.
- Exercise! Regular exercise keeps the blood flowing and your body functioning optimally, plus sweating is one of the body’s ways of detoxing your skin and insides.
- Get your beauty sleep. Regeneration happens when we sleep, which is crucial for slowing down aging.
- Decrease sugar and alcohol intake. Alcohol is dehydrating, and more studies come out regularly about the negative impact that sugar has on our health, including that of our skin.
Conventional Wrinkle Treatments
There are many prescriptions, over the counter, and even surgical treatments for wrinkles and they all vary in their effectiveness and risk for side effects. These include:
- Prescription retinoid and over-the-counter wrinkle creams
- Chemical Peel
- Dermabrasion and Microdermabrasion
- Soft tissue fillers
The effectiveness of each of these treatments varies from minimal improvements in the case of most store-bought wrinkle creams, to effective but temporary, as is the case with many of the surgical and chemical procedures. They are all extremely expensive, and come with side effects such as scarring, redness, discoloration, and can take anywhere from weeks to even months to heal from.
As noted above, many conventional treatments can be effective however come with side-effects or are expensive. A more recommended approach is to first and foremost, build the lifestyle habits that support better skin, protect yourself in the sun and avoid smoking.
In combination with these strategies, below are some excellent natural topical remedies you can use that are high in skin-loving nutrition and help diminish and prevent wrinkles
- Olive oil: Olive oil contains protein, minerals, and vitamins that help soften and nourish the skin. It preserves the elasticity of the skin and makes it more resilient, decreasing and preventing fine lines and wrinkles.
- Jojoba Oil: This essential oil contains vitamin E, B complex vitamins, silicon, chromium, copper, and zinc, all which nourish the skin and help it heal from damage. The texture of jojoba oil is also very similar to that of sebum, your skin’s natural oils. As this decreases as you age, jojoba oil replaces sebum keeping your skin hydrated and retaining its dewy, youthful appearance. It also is high in antioxidants and stimulates collagen synthesis, improving and decreasing wrinkles.
- Coconut oil: Coconut oil is highly moisturizing and contains lauric acid, which is a useful antifungal and antibacterial. Coconut oil helps aid the process of skin healing and hydrates the skin, helping to heal and prevent the marks, scars, and wrinkles associated with aging.
- Argan oil: Argan oil is a powerful anti-aging essential oil thanks to its high concentrations of vitamin A, E, antioxidants, Omega-6 Fatty Acids, and linoleic acid. THe tocopherol from the vitamin E also helps to boost cell production in the skin. When used on the skin, it moisturizes and reduces inflammation, leading to a healthy, younger-looking complexion.
- Evening primrose oil: This essential oil is high in omega-6 fatty acids, which help the skin to maintain its structure and resilience and reduce age-related water loss in the skin. It also contains antioxidants, which help reduce inflammation and therefore skin roughness, fine lines, and dark circles around the eyes.
- Raw Hawaiian Honey:. Beyond the nutrients, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that are found in raw honey, the flowers unique to Hawaii have provided the honey with a special property that allows it to stimulate collagen production.
- Pure Beeswax: Beeswax contains natural fatty acids that hydrate and smooth the skin, as well as its antibiotic and healing properties to restore your skin’s natural youthfulness.
- Royal Jelly: Royal jelly is a vital part of bee nutrition, and is critical for the growth of new larvae as well as the queen bee. It contains amino acids and minerals for cellular protection. For human skin, this provides protective measures against the natural aging factors previously mentioned.
- Propolis: This is a bee by-product with natural anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties also known as “bee glue”. It has been used since ancient times to treat abscesses, heal wounds, and other skin conditions. These properties help to keep the skin fresh and rejuvenated.
How To Use Them
You can use these individually on your skin, or ideally look for products that contain these ingredients; one of our favorite products is BeeFriendly Organic Face and Eye cream which actually includes every single one of the ingredients listed above and more! Together, all these ingredients work to restore collagen and elastin fibers to the skin, reduce scars and age spots, and hydrate and keep the skin looking bright and fresh.
Remember, aging is a natural, beautiful part of life, but there are plenty of proactive and preventative measures you can take to remain as youthful on the outside as you feel on the inside. Share this article to educate your friends and family on the science of wrinkles and how they too can have gorgeous, glowing skin at any age.