By Lindsey Gaworecki and Ashley Tracey
To most aging gracefully means you have maintained your youthful appearance longer than the majority of your peers. The skin is the largest organ in the body and heavily impacts our appearance. In order to slow our skin’s rate of aging it is important to understand why our skin ages in the first place.
Intrinsic and extrinsic aging are the two ways our skin ages. Intrinsic aging is our body’s natural biological process of aging and is pre-determined by our genetics (thanks mom and dad!). We may not have much control over intrinsic aging but the good news is that it only plays a small role in our aging journey.
Extrinsic aging on the other hand is the impact preventable elements have on our skin’s aging process such as free radicals (toxins), exposure to UV light, and cigarette smoke. You can significantly slow the rate at which these elements impact your skin aging process by maintaining a healthy lifestyle and committing to a good skincare routine.
Our lifestyle choices greatly impact our skin’s appearance. Getting enough sleep, exercising, proper nutrition, and not smoking cigarettes are all ways to slow extrinsic aging.
At night our skin repairs and renews itself in a process known as cell mitosis. Sleeping during this process has been proven to increase the number of cells regenerated. Making the saying “beauty sleep” a real thing.
Exercising regularly is another great way to maintain youthful skin. Working out increases circulation, which brings more nutrients and oxygen to the skin while flushing away waste. Exercising can also reduce stress, which can cause breakouts and other skin and health concerns.
Maintaining a well-balanced diet is also an effective way to combat signs of aging. Free radicals or toxins are terrible for our skin and overall health. Foods such as fruits and vegetables are chuck full of free radical fighting antioxidants.
Cigarette smoking puts your overall health at risk, which includes the health of your skin. The free radicals found in a cigarette have been proven to damage collagen and elastin, which is needed to maintain firm and supple skin.
Having an effective skincare regimen is a crucial proponent to aging gracefully. Skincare routines are customizable based on your skin concerns. A good anti-aging skincare routine should consist of the following: A gentle facial cleanser, routine exfoliation, topical vitamin c, SPF, Retinol or retin-a and regular med spa treatments.
As we age our skin becomes dryer a gentle cleanser will hydrate and retain the skin’s natural moisture barrier as it cleans dirt, makeup and impurities.
Topical Vitamin C is an antioxidant so of course it protects against free radicals. Furthermore, Vitamin C corrects dark spots, brightens, improves texture and can prevent breakouts.
Exfoliating is essential to healthy skin because it increases cell turnover. Additionally, when you scrub away dead skin cells it allows your skincare products to be more effective and reveals brighter, smoother, and younger looking skin.
Excessive exposure to UVA / UVB rays can cause the skin to age at an increased rate. You can protect yourself from these harmful rays by wearing SPF. There are two types of SPF, physical and chemical. Physical SPF, also referred to as mineral SPF reflects UVA and UVB rays and is effective immediately. One way you can tell whether or not a SPF is physical or chemical is by its ingredients. The only two active ingredients found in a physical SPF are zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. Chemical SPF absorbs UVA and UVB rays and takes roughly 20 minutes to be effective. Ingredients found in a chemical SPF end in -ates, -zones and -ene. Both types of SPF need to be reapplied throughout the day to remain effective.
Retinol and Retin-A both reduce fine lines and wrinkles by increasing the production of collagen. They also stimulate the production of new blood vessels in the skin, which improves the appearance of dark spots. Retinol is a derivative of vitamin A and can be purchased over the counter(OTC). Retin-A is a form of vitamin A and is much stronger then retinol. Retin-A penetrates deeper layers of your skin and is effective immediately. A prescription is needed for Retin-A and It’s important to rinse off each morning and apply SPF when ever using either of these.
Additionally, getting frequent med spa treatments such as peels, micro needling, dermaplaning, and facials will help you maintain that youthful glow. It is important to set up a consultation with your aesthetician in order to develop a skincare plan based on your skin type and concerns.
Your face isn’t the only area of your body that exposes your age. It is equally important to apply your skincare to areas like your neck, chest and hands. Also purchasing medical grade skincare products from a physician’s office will be more potent and effective then products found in store.
You may have noticed words like maintain, committing, and regularly used in this article. That is because consistency is vital to aging gracefully. Doing something once isn’t going to deliver results. Having amazing skincare products that sit in our bathroom drawer doesn’t do you any good. Find a routine that works for you and stick with it!
Aging is a natural part of life that happens to everyone and should be celebrated. You can slow the effects of aging by maintaining a healthy lifestyle and committing to a skin routine.
Editor’s note: Lindsey Gaworecki, RPA-C, MSPAS, is a physician’s assistant and Ashley Tracey is a sales and marketing coordinator at Syracuse Plastic Surgery, 3107 E. Genesee St., Syracuse.