Reviewed by Kristin Hall, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Crow’s feet, sagging skin, dark spots — isn’t aging fun? Sarcasm aside, these things are a totally normal part of normal aging.
As you age, the top layer of your skin (the epidermis) starts to thin, leading to a crepe-y look. You also start losing elasticity and, because of this, your skin may sag and deep lines and wrinkles can form.
Along with this, the number of pigment-containing cells you have decreases. Translation: bring on the age spots!
You expect to see these physical changes when you reach a certain age. But what if you start noticing these signs of aging much earlier than you anticipated?
That’s called premature aging and it’s a real bummer. Keep reading to learn more about it, as well as how to prevent premature aging skin.
When it comes to your skin, there are two types of aging. The first is called intrinsic aging and it’s essentially the natural aging process.
When you experience this, you may notice your facial skin seems a bit thinner and drier and lines start to form. Genetics largely control when this type of aging starts.
Then, there’s extrinsic aging, which is when your environment and lifestyle choices cause your skin to prematurely age.
Let’s dive into some of the more common lifestyle choices that can wreak havoc on formerly youthful skin and cause skin aging.
You may like that bronzed look a day in the sun gives you, but your skin is not going to thank you for it. First, there's skin cancer to consider.
But also, sun damage is actually one of the biggest culprits when it comes to causing wrinkles for men. Research has found that UV exposure may reduce elastic properties in the skin, which causes it to sag and wrinkle.
There are a multitude of reasons smoking is bad for you and premature aging is one of them.
Studies have found that tobacco use impairs the production of collagen and increases the production of tropoelastin and matrix metalloproteinases (MMP).
Say what?! Simply put, MMP causes an increase of thickened skin cells, which cause a wrinkled appearance.
This is a simple one. If you’re not drinking enough water, your skin is dehydrated. And the thirstier your skin is, the older it looks. Make sense?
On that note, alcohol is dehydrating, so if you drink too many adult beverages, you may get dry skin and start to look older.
Now, the important intel: How to nurture your skin and control further premature aging. By making some simple lifestyle tweaks you can delay further aging and encourage healthier skin. Here are some things to consider trying.
Even on a cloudy day, exposure to the sun’s harmful rays can penetrate your skin. So, anytime you're outside, slather sunscreen on any exposed skin.
The American Academy of Dermatology recommends a broad-spectrum formula (meaning it protects from UVA and UVB rays) and a minimum of an SPF 30.
If you’re a smoker, quitting may feel easier said than done. But for your health (and your skin!), you really should make a go out of quitting.
Not sure where to start? Consider scheduling time with a primary care provider to discuss treatments that could assist you with kicking that nasty habit once and for all.
Prevent your skin from getting dehydrated by upping your water intake on the daily. It’s suggested that men drink around 3.7 liters a day to stay adequately hydrated.
Gulping down a big glass with every meal and then carrying a water bottle with you during the day can help you meet this goal.
Combat premature aging by giving your skin lots of TLC. The way to do that? By using skincare products specifically formulated to slow down extrinsic aging and reduce the appearance of lines and wrinkles or going to a dermatologist for special anti-aging procedures.
Here’s a breakdown of the products and treatments that may help control what's going on with your skin.
As mentioned earlier, skin dehydration can bring on wrinkles and worsen the appearance of your skin.
Along with drinking plenty of water, using a high quality moisturizer can help keep skin looking plump and youthful.
You’ll want to use it daily — ideally morning and night — to get the maximum payoff.
Retinoids can actually help intrinsic and extrinsic aging. Retinol and tretinoin are two common ones. Both are cell regulators with antioxidant effects.
They work by increasing collagen production to plump up your skin and reduce the visible signs of damage like wrinkles and dark spots.
So, when you’re looking for an anti-aging cream, it’s a good idea to make sure retinol or tretinoin are on the ingredient list.
This helps remove the damaged layer, allowing skin to regenerate for a fresher look. It also sometimes encourages collagen production.
Botox® can be injected into areas of your face to paralyze the muscles that cause wrinkles. It’s often used on “11” lines (the lines between your eyebrows), forehead lines and crow’s feet.
Generally, the effects last three to four months before you’ll need another injection.
Commonly called fillers, injectables get injected underneath the skin to improve the appearance of it. So, what exactly is in an injectable?
It depends. They’re either composed of fat, collagen, hyaluronic acid or a synthetic material.
To combat signs of aging, they’re commonly used to plump sagging skin or restore fullness to the cheeks or under the eyes.
From staying out of the sun to drinking more water and using a good moisturizer, there are plenty of ways you can fight the signs of premature aging.
The best way to identify what’s best for you, talk to a dermatologist about your skin aging issues and to get personalized medical advice.
Kristin Hall is a board-certified Family Nurse Practitioner with decades of experience in clinical practice and leadership.
She has an extensive background in Family Medicine as both a front-line healthcare provider and clinical leader through her work as a primary care provider, retail health clinician and as Principal Investigator with the NIH.
Certified through the American Nurses Credentialing Center, she brings her expertise in Family Medicine into your home by helping people improve their health and actively participate in their own healthcare.
Kristin is a St. Louis native and earned her master’s degree in Nursing from St. Louis University, and is also a member of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners. You can find Kristin on LinkedIn for more information.