The second biggest skin complaint I hear about from my readers (after dry skin woes) is staving off the signs of aging, without fillers, surgery, and toxic chemicals. Now, we all know that’s a tall order. Nothing works as well as a good old nip, tuck, or injectable. But there is a lot we can do, naturally, to slow the signs of aging skin through our skincare and lifestyle habits. I’m not one to judge a lady (or gent!) for choosing the medspa route, but try these steps first to amp up your anti-aging action, before going hardcore Cher all over the place. Deal? Deal. Here they are, my…
6 Steps for Younger Skin
Step 1: Get serious about your SPF
This is the number one cause of aging skin people, and the remedy is quite simple. Wear SPF, all. the. time. Even if your skin has started to show signs of aging, it’s not too late to get in the sun protection game, to slow it all down. So, what to use? I save the real sunscreen for beach days, and when I do rock it, I go for a natural, mineral-based sunscreen, designed especially for the face. The rest of the time, I love a good natural BB cream with SPF — these awesome multitaskers smooth complexion, deliver targeted ingredients for your specific skin type, AND provide sun protection!
Step 2: Embrace the oils
In Ayurveda, we learn that kapha body types, who are naturally a bit on the oilier side, age much slower than drier body types, like vata (you can learn your Ayurvedic type here!). That’s because our skin’s natural oils keep everything hydrated and lubricated, and naturally prevent wrinkles from forming! If you’re not naturally oily (and even if you are), a HUGE anti-aging trick is to embrace oils in your skincare routine. I cleanse my face with oil, use oil-based serums, and moisturize with oils as well. If you’re not ready to go all oils, all the time, like me, then at least make sure you’re using an oil as part of your daily routine. Your skin will thank you, and your wrinkles will shrink from fear!
Step 3: Pick a great anti-aging natural skincare line
The products you use definitely matter for slowing the signs of aging. You are never too young for a great eye cream, serum, and moisturizer. But there are a TON of crappy ingredients in most of the major anti-aging skincare lines. Seriously, check your favorite creams and serums for ingredients like BHT, iso paraffin, parabens, disodium EDTA, and any of these bad guys. NO BUENO. And the real kicker is that many of those toxic chemicals actually thin and age your skin long-term. So go natural with this stuff, people! Look for lines with great anti-aging ingredients like argan oil, seaweeds, seabuckthorn, and alpha hydroxy acids.
Fave products: Beautycounter Countertime Collection <– check out my review and enter to win the whole collection!
Step 4: Invest in antioxidants
Dr. Cybele Fishman, my amazing integrative dermatologist in NYC, told me that there are three tenants to preventing aging skin: SPF, an antioxidant serum, and retinol (or glycolic acid). I have since lived by this tenant, and can see the difference. An antioxidant serum reverses the environmental damage that your skin goes through on a daily basis, protect again free radicals, and literally feeds your skin with anti-aging, skin beautifying nutrients. Look for a serum with vitamins C and E, preferably in a natural oil base (argan oil is great for this) — that way you can knock out steps 2 and 4 with one fell swoop!
Step 5: Whip out the big guns (i.e.: retinol or glycolic acid)
As per my dermatologists orders, I started getting a glycolic acid peel once a month a couple of years ago, and I have to tell you, it’s the best. I get it done professionally, but you can also do it at home! Natural glycolic acid peels off the dead, dull outer layers of skin (often times on a microscopic level), revealing younger, radiant, smooth skin below. It’s also awesome for breakout-prone skin! If you’ve never had a glycolic peel before, start with a low percentage (like 20% concentration), and work your way up.
If your skin can handle it, you’re not pregnant, trying to get pregnant, or breastfeeding, you can give retinol a try. Retinol is vitamin A, which has a similar, antioxidant and anti aging effect to glycolic acid, but is a bit stronger, making it a bit harder on sensitive skin. But if you can handle it, go for it! I would be wary of the prescription stuff though (Retin-A) — as with most prescription skincare, it’s loaded with all kinds of toxic ingredients. Come on, medical community, get with it!
If your skin just can’t take either of these, or you just want something a little gentler, a fruit acid peel is a great place to start!
Step 6: Take a look at your lifestyle habits
Ok, now that we’ve covered everything you can put on your skin, we’ve got to take a look at the other factors that are contributing to aging skin. The biggest are sleep, smoking, and diet. Are you constantly sleep deprived? Your skin will totally give you away. Do everything in your power to get 7-8 hours of sleep a night (check out a few ways to improve your sleep). Are you still smoking cigarettes? It’s 2016. Get over it. If you’re not swayed by the fact that smoking is shortening your lifespan and that of everyone around you, perhaps you’ll be convinced by the fact that it’s giving you wrinkles and making you look 10 years older. Seriously. Do what you’ve gotta do and QUIT. And lastly, your diet! Eating a diet high in processed foods, sugar, and poor quality meat increases free radicals in your body and ages your cells. That’s going to show up in your blood work and on your skin. So ditch the crappy foods and start eating an anti-aging diet ASAP!
Favor healthy fats like olive oil, avocado, chia seeds and fatty fish; rock probiotic foods like sauerkraut and kombucha; drink organic bone broth, and eat antioxidant-rich foods like organic blueberries, green tea, and dark chocolate (in moderation). A glass of red wine at night can also do a lot of good, but any more than that, and you’re actually aging yourself, so keep it cool, ok?