There is a huge emphasis on youth in our culture. This can mistakenly give us the idea that we are less beautiful or valuable as we get older. I see a lot of women asking, “Can we reverse skin aging?”
There are things that we cannot do anything about and others we can influence. We cannot control the natural aging process, but we can stop premature aging. We can also maintain control over our thoughts and look our best as we age.
Our skin naturally loses melanin, dermal collagen, fatty acids, hair follicles and sebaceous glands as we get older. The decrease of these things causes the skin to wrinkle, crease, sag and dry out. You may notice that older skin looks thinner and doesn’t heal as fast as it once did.
Our impact on extrinsic aging comes from habits, environment, mentality and lifestyle choices.
In this post, we will cover how you can slow down aging to look and feel your very best at each stage of life. Most importantly, we will talk about the importance of our mentality in slowing down premature aging.
What Causes Extrinsic Aging?
Extrinsic aging is how we appear to others. Aging may include hair loss, wrinkles, sagging skin, graying hair, bleary eyes, age spots, sunspots and more. Looking older than you are can be a sign of poor health. You will show extrinsic aging at a faster rate when you pursue unhealthy habits in your daily routine.
- Poor diet
- Chronic stress
- Sun exposure
- Sleep deprivation
- Lack of exercise or overexertion
- Product chemicals and environmental pollution
- Smoking (including secondhand smoking)
- Excessive drinking or drug use
From the products you use to the schedule you keep, things you do on a daily basis could be impacting your health in ways that change your appearance. Let’s talk about how we can stop early aging and reverse some damage already done.
How to Slow Down Aging
We want to take care of our bodies in order to look and feel our best as the years pass. To stay healthy, it’s important we try to avoid unnecessary damage. Here are some of the most common issues that can cause visible aging.
Avoid Heavy Sun Exposure
Science says 15 minutes in the sun is incredible for your mental health because of how your skin absorbs vitamin D and produces good mood hormones. But, stay out too much longer and you risk damage to your skin from the harmful UV rays. If you are going out for more than 15 minutes:
- Wear a strong sunscreen (broad-spectrum SPF 30 or higher)
- Cover up with clothing that offers an ultraviolet protection factor (UPF)
- The shade will also offer protection from the sun
- Avoid going out during the most intense hours of the day (close to noon)
- Don’t stay out long enough to burn
Stay Away from Smoke
Smoking is bad for you, even if you aren’t the one with the cigarette in your mouth. E-cigarettes or vape pens are also harmful. Smoking speeds up how quickly your skin will age by causing wrinkles and discoloration.
Nicotine actually reduces the blog flow, which stops your skin from getting the oxygen and nutrients it needs. Repetitive facial expressions while smoking will cause wrinkles around the mouth. It can be challenging to stop smoking.
Smoking cravings are often triggered by specific events or tied to times of the day. If you can find a substitute activity or avoid the trigger altogether, you may find it easier to stop. Carrot sticks, cinnamon candies, mints and gum are some of the things people use as substitutes to get through the urges.
If you aren’t a smoker, then you will want to set boundaries to reduce the amount of secondhand smoke you are exposed to for your own well-being.
Practice Facial Relaxation
Repetitive facial expressions will create permanent lines and extra wrinkles. Practice relaxing your face, especially while you are working or concentrating. Wear sunglasses to reduce lines caused by squinting.
Relaxing your face with meditation can also reduce your cortisol levels, which cause premature aging.
Eat a Nutrient-Diverse Diet
The food you choose to fuel your body can empower you or cause faster aging. Sugar is one of the worst foods for impacting the health of your skin. Shoot for a diverse range of natural foods so you can benefit from all kinds of nutrients.
Some studies suggest that eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables may improve the youthful appearance of skin with anti-aging properties. Other research has suggested carbohydrates, sugar and ultra-processed foods can accelerate biological aging and increase cardiovascular disease.
So, try to eat mainly whole foods that have been freshly prepared to help support your skin and hair health. Include whole grains, vegetables and fish. Healthy fats, like avocados, olive oil, tree nuts and seeds, are some of the best foods for supporting youthful hair and skin. Omega-3 and vitamin E can slow down the aging process. Berries offer a lot of valuable nutrients and antioxidants as well and won’t cause a spike in blood sugar.
Drink Less Alcohol
Alcohol will make you age faster. It breaks up your sleep rhythms, leading to dark circles under the eyes. It can cause a flush or rosacea flares because of inflammation in the blood vessels. It dehydrates the skin and might trigger psoriasis, dandruff. Drinking regularly might worsen or cause acne. Over time it will hurt your cognitive function and impair your health.
On the flip side, drinking plenty of water can help clear your skin and improve your health. Try to swap out alcoholic beverages for water most of the time.
Get More Exercise
You should exercise most days of the week (ideally, at least five). I know it isn’t always easy, but even jumping into a yoga class or taking a brisk walk is better than sitting at home. Aerobic classes are a great way to get in low-impact cardio. This will help reduce the risk of heart disease, cognitive decline and high blood pressure. It will help you with healthy aging.
Studies show that moderate exercise can improve circulation and boost the immune system. It will also help reduce stress, which can impact the skin. Overall, exercise may give the skin a more youthful appearance. It will also tone muscle mass and improve blood flow, which will help you slow the appearance of biological age.
Choose Gentle Facial Products
Cleaners and lotions can do more harm than good. If you are going to splurge on something, splurge on good skincare to help protect your skin.
Irritation can accelerate skin aging, and a lot of cleansers are abrasive. Soaps can be highly drying. Gentle washing with a hydrating cleanser removes the makeup, dirt, pollution and other substances without irritating the skin.
Washing twice a day is great for your face. You should also wash it after sweating heavily. Sweat will irritate the skin, so wash your face immediately after sweating.
Use a quality facial moisturizer every day to help trap the water in your skin and reduce signs of aging. Don’t use skincare products that sting or burn, since this is a clear sign of irritation.
Be Ready to Adapt
Time isn’t stopping for anyone, so be future-minded. Stop living in the past with regrets or nostalgia. It’s great to remember things, but it’s so important to appreciate the here and now. I want you to live every day with joy and you can’t do that stuck in the past.
You will age yourself with worry. Plus, being stuck in the past means you aren’t ready to change. Adapting and evolving is how we stay young.
This might be something as simple as working harder to figure out new technology or exploring a new style that has resurfaced. Do you see me posting videos on YouTube? That wasn’t an option when I first started my practice and took work to figure out! That stigma of old age says we can’t do as much as we get older. These stereotypes are something that will hurt your self-image and I really want you to push back against that concept.
You can welcome change if you want to.
We need to reprogram our view of old age. The idea that we are less desired or capable as we age is a sad misconception that holds us back. Fighting age will actually age you faster—isn’t that ironic?
One recent study at Yale showed a positive mentality for growing older leads to a lifespan 7.6 years longer than those who were unhappy about it. The study notes this is “more than the longevity gained from low blood pressure or low cholesterol or by maintaining a healthy weight, abstaining from smoking and exercising regularly.”
I’ll say it over and over again, but positive affirmations in your life are so important for your mental health. You can absolutely use positive mantras to improve your self-perception and reprogram your thinking.
“I am beautiful at every age and phase of my life.”
“I am attractive, no matter what age I am.”
“My age holds wisdom and beauty.”
“My value is a constant, unchanged by age or ability.”
“I am valuable simply because I exist.”
Recognize the Stigma of Age
You aren’t the only one struggling with this concept. This is a stereotype that has been around for decades before you were born and impacts all older adults. Understanding this stigma that unfairly impacts your self-confidence is just the first step to breaking this unhealthy belief. We have a deep-seated belief that aging is a bad thing in this culture.
You need to break out of this idea that what you do or contribute is what makes you valuable. I had to work through this years ago, so it’s not a struggle I face any longer.
Who I am is not determined by what I do.
I am a creation of God, and my value is just in being me. If I was unable to walk, I would be just as valuable. If I was suffering from Alzheimer’s, my value is still the same. If I was a burn victim with visible facial scars, my value is not diminished. You know these things already. So, remember: as I age, my value doesn’t decrease.
There’s No Shame in Wanting to Look Your Best
Knowing your value is not tied to your age or appearance is a key part of flipping this struggle on its head and finding your positive mindset. This doesn’t mean you should allow yourself to age prematurely or stop caring for your body. Throughout our lives, it’s important we pursue healthy habits for overall wellness.
Caring for your physical appearance will boost your self-esteem and confidence. This will have a positive impact on your emotional wellbeing and mental health. I want you to live a life filled with joy, which often comes from feeling your best.
I highly recommend reading my book Remembering Wholeness, where I spend some time working through some of these concepts.
I’d also like to see you join the Healing Center where we address these deeply rooted ideas that hold you back from a true sense of self. Join me in a guided healing plan.