From the venerable wizard Gandolph in “Lord of the Rings” to the Catholic church’s blessed Mother Teresa, both fiction and history are packed with archetypes of wise old men and women. In spite of the extraordinary powers and selfless good deeds of these sages and saints, however, their wrinkled visages are conspicuously absent from skin care advertisements. Skin sells, it seems. Wrinkles do not.
Yet, wrinkles are unavoidable. As you age, your skin loses its elasticity and the layer of fat under your face begins to thin, resulting in wrinkling. But before you resign yourself to a future full of furrows, laugh lines and crow’s feet, you should know there are a few simple ways to stave off these inevitable signs of aging. Let’s take a look at the top three ways to prevent wrinkles.
1. Stave off the Sun’s Rays
On that first glorious, sunny day of spring, nothing feels better than lifting your face to the gigantic, gaseous giver of life: the sun. There’s no doubt the sun is a benevolent force in our world; however, its UV rays are also the No. 1 cause of wrinkles.
But before you shroud your body completely, note that sunlight (since it’s necessary for the production of vitamin D) is beneficial in moderate amounts. However, if you’re going to be out in the sun in the middle of the day or for long periods of time, sunblock is essential.
Start by protecting your face and the backs of your hands with a daily moisturizer that contains an SPF 30 sunscreen. For long days in the sun, be sure to spread liberal amounts of sunscreen or sunblock evenly all over your body. Sunscreens take about 20 minutes to penetrate the skin, so slather them on well before you charge outside to enjoy a wrinkle-free day in the sun.
2. Wash and Exfoliate
True or False: Dry skin causes wrinkles? Surprisingly, the answer is false.
The same environmental assaults that cause wrinkles also cause dry skin; dry skin is a by-product of these assaults, rather than the cause of the wrinkles themselves. Even though dry skin doesn’t cause wrinkling, it does make existing wrinkles more noticeable. Proper washing and exfoliating will help reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
The outer layer of skin (epidermis) contains a protective acid barrier that prevents bacterial and fungal growth. Ordinary soaps have an alkaline pH which removes this barrier. Instead of ordinary bar soap, use gentle pH-balanced cleansers. For an added benefit, consider applying a topical antioxidant, such as the L-ascorbic acid version of vitamin C, naicinamide or pantothenic acid. Antioxidants reduce the appearance of wrinkles.
You should also exfoliate regularly with a physical exfoliate, such as finely ground apricot seeds, or a chemical exfoliate, such as alpha-hydroxy acid (fruit-based acids) or glycolic acid (derived from sugar cane).
3. Read the Label: Moisturizer and Wrinkle Creams
Since adding good sources of vitamins A, C and E to your diet is so great for skin, it makes sense to check the labels on your moisturizers and wrinkle creams for these wrinkle-busting ingredients.
Vitamin A (a retinoid) appears on cosmetics labels as Retin-A (retinoic acid), retinol and retinyl. When applied as a topical cream, these ingredients increase collagen and elastin (proteins in the dermis). Retinoids also work to repair sun damage and lessen the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
The L-ascorbic acid version of vitamin C penetrates the outer layer of skin and increases vitamin C levels by 40 percent. Vitamin C protects against sunburn and can decrease the appearance of rosacea.
DL-alpha-tocopherol is the most effective topical form of vitamin E. It enhances the effects of sunscreen and slows the formation of wrinkles. Because UV rays degrade or inactivate vitamins C and E, use products containing these ingredients at night or underneath sunblock.