The Frugal Path to Age-Defying Skin Care

by Gina Blitstein · 0 comments

Advertisers would have us think that the only way to combat wrinkles and sagging skin due to aging is with pricey products. While there is some science behind many of their advertized problem-solvers, there’s no need to pay inflated prices. When you know what ingredients actually work at maintaining and improving the look of skin, you are empowered to buy and do that which will make the greatest impact for much less money.

To really affect the appearance of skin, it’s imperative to care for your collagen, a protein produced by cells that gives skin firmness and elasticity. As skin ages, collagen production slows and existing collagen can be damaged, leading to wrinkles and sagging skin.

Age-defying skincare: simple practices and basic ingredients

Cleansing – Wash dirt from your skin every evening with a gentle cleanser.

Protection – Use a UVA/UVB sunscreen daily to protect against sun exposure that can potentially burn skin causing premature aging and lead to skin cancer.

Lifestyle – Healthy habits promote better skin condition:

  • Regular exercise – Raising your heart rate pumps oxygen and nutrients into skin that it needs for collagen production.
  • Avoid smoking – Smoking damages collagen and elastin while decreasing blood flow to your skin, starving cells of the oxygen and nutrients.
  • Manage stress – Stress produces cortisol, a hormone that causes inflammation which breaks down collagen.
    Avoid excessive alcohol – Too much alcohol over time can lead to permanently flushed skin or visible blood vessels.
  • Avoid excessive sugar – Too much sugar or refined carbohydrates leads to the production of advanced glycation end products which damage collagen and elastin.

Diet – Eat foods containing:

  • Omega 3 fatty acids, found in salmon, fish oils, walnuts, almonds and flaxseed, support healthy cell membranes, which keep skin cells hydrated and plump.
  • Antioxidant-rich foods, to fight free radicals (damaged skin cells, missing a second electron a healthy cell would have). Free radicals damage healthy cells by extracting the electron they need. This process triggers an enzyme in the skin that breaks down collagen. Fruits, vegetables and green tea contain antioxidants which neutralize free radicals so that they don’t feed off healthy skin cells.
  • Vitamin C enables amino acids to link and form the protein of which collagen is made. Dietary sources include red peppers, dark green leafy vegetables, broccoli and sprouts, tomatoes, oranges and kiwi.
  • Lutein, present in green leafy vegetables and eggs, boosts antioxidant processes.
  • Estrogen, a hormone that decreases with age, is vital to collagen production. Make up for lost estrogen by eating hummus, nuts, soy and pinto beans.

Products and practices – These ingredients are actually effective for skin improvement:

  • Retinol, a vitamin A derivative, unclogs pores, boosts collagen to reduce fine lines, and speeds cell turnover to even-out discoloration and smooth skin. Retinoids are the pricey prescription version; retinol is available over the counter in a less-potent, slower-acting, but equally effective form.
  • Exfoliation removes the top, dead layer of skin, speeding up the natural process of skin and collagen renewal. Chemical exfoliants, like glycolic acid and lactic acid, dissolve the sticky substance that bonds dead skin to the surface, whereas facial scrubs slough it away.
  • The same skin-boosting ingredients you include in your diet are beneficial in products for topical application. Look for creams and serums containing lutein, Vitamin C (L-Ascorbic acid, ascorbyl palmitate or ascorbyl phosphate) and phytoestrogens.

Avoid getting in a rut – Mix up your skincare routine once a year to “wake up” your skin cells.

Using ingredients that are effective and practicing healthy lifestyle habits will help your skin look as fresh and youthful as possible without needing damage control or paying more than necessary.

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