The sun sets and rises, the tax man comes calling, and skin ages—these are all things you can be sure of; as your body produces less collagen each year and the skin’s elastin fibers become looser, wrinkles appear and the skin becomes less elastic. With aging comes a well-earned sense of wisdom, experience and grace, but you’ll want to make sure your skin ages just as gracefully as your mind and spirit by incorporating a few anti-aging practices into your regular skin-care routine.
Using antioxidants as anti-aging agents is based on the free radical theory of aging, which supposes that molecules known as free radicals lead to oxidation and cell degeneration, basically damaging the skin over time. To fight oxidation, you’ll want to turn to an antioxidant, which is a substance that inhibits oxidation—it really is all in the name. Lots of antioxidants come in the form of common vitamins, and they occur in edible elements that work their way into off-the-shelf creams and lotions, like green tea, coffee berry and grape seed.
All sorts of skin-care products feature antioxidants, which you can get from food or topically in the form of serums, body creams, facial moisturizers, wrinkle creams; the list goes on. Seek out free-radical-fighting antioxidant ingredients such as vitamins C and E, beta-carotene, lycopene and selenium. In addition to fighting the signs of aging, antioxidants serve as preventive measures. For instance, selenium actually boosts your body’s antioxidant production, while vitamin E helps prevent wrinkles caused by sunlight exposure. Look for skin-care products that feature multiple antioxidants because these anti-agers are even more effective when combined.
Exfoliation and Anti-Aging
Essentially, the act of exfoliation encourages cell turnover, which gets rid of dead skin cells and makes way for new cells to grow—clearly, a major perk if a more youthful look is what you desire. However, abrasive scrubs, a very common method of exfoliation, are best left to younger bodies; the rough-edged particles in these scrubs can injure the skin, and the drier, more sensitive nature of mature skin puts it at greater risk. Rather than microbeads or rough exfoliators, seek gentler methods that rely on alpha-hydroxy acids to renew the skin. Instead of sloughing off skin, these methods encourage the shedding of dead skin cells as they stimulate collagen and elastin production.
Exfoliators to Seek
Alpha-hydroxy acids are your best bet for exfoliating mature skin, and they come in lots of different forms. These naturally exfoliating elements—which show up in masks and exfoliating washes—originate from fruits and milk sugars, and each packs its own unique set of benefits. Milk-based lactic acid not only removes dead skin cells, it also brightens the skin. Meanwhile, sugar-derived glycolic acid targets fine lines and tightens up sagging skin. Other exfoliators include malic acid, citric acid and tartaric acid. While the names might sound scary, these gentle exfoliating agents actually come from fruits such as apples, oranges and grapes.
This article has been reviewed by board-certified dermatologist Dr. Emmy Graber.