Wrinkles, also known as rhytides, are folds in your skin. As you age, your skin produces less of the proteins collagen and elastin. This makes your skin thinner and less resistant to damage. Environmental exposure, dehydration, and toxins can all make your face more likely to develop pronounced wrinkles. Wrinkles are a natural part of getting older, and there’s no reason to dread getting them. But if you would like to slow the signs of aging on your face, there are natural ways to do so.
1. Wear sunscreen
Most people know that wearing sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) over 30 can help prevent skin cancer. A 2013 study in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that sunscreen also helped delay the signs of aging. While you probably already wear a sunscreen for the beach, wearing a moisturizing sunscreen on your face each day is a habit that will benefit your skin health long-term.
2. Limit your sugar intake
The medical community continues to learn more about how sugar consumption can affect your health. Sugar in your body sets off a process called glycation, and advanced glycation end products (called AGEs) are no good for your skin. AGEs break down the collagen in your body and, over time, can make you look older. AGEs have also been linked to food preparation methods such as grilling and frying (as opposed to baking and boiling). Limiting your intake of sugar and oil-rich foods will help your face retain its youthful shape.
3. Cut out smoking
Smoking is bad for your health for lots of reasons, but many people don’t know that it can age your face prematurely. One fascinating study compared the faces of 79 pairs of identical twins in which one had a smoking habit and the other one didn’t. The striking differences in their ages made it clear that smoking does affect the condition of the skin on your face. Even being around secondhand smoke can increase your risk for many cancers and other diseases, and it may hurt your skin as well.
4. Use coconut oil
Coconut oil is a natural emollient. That means when you apply it to your skin, it fills in the gaps in your epidermis and makes your skin feel smooth. Showing your skin some love with coconut oil doesn’t just make it smoother, it also helps skin retain moisture, which makes your face appear fuller. As an added bonus, coconut oil has been studied and found to be an effective treatment for dry skin.
5. Boost your beta carotene
There’s an ongoing medical debate on how and why beta carotenes block the sun’s ultraviolet light from damaging your skin and eyes. Beta carotene and retinol (vitamin A) are often ingredients in the cosmetic anti-wrinkle creams available to buy on the market. But you don’t have to buy a product to get access to beta carotene; you can simply take a beta carotene supplement and see the benefits in your skin. As little as 30 milligrams per day of beta carotene, taken orally, can prevent and repair photoaging (otherwise known as wrinkles).
6. Try lemon balm leaf tea
One of the newer holistic strategies to emerge for wrinkle fighting is lemon balm leaf tea. A study that compared a small sample of people drinking lemon balm leaf tea to another group drinking a placebo of barley leaf tea led researchers to conclude that lemon balm leaf extract makes skin more elastic and corrects tissue damage.
7. Switch up your sleep position
Some wrinkling on your face can actually be caused by the position that you sleep in. It’s called “compression,” and it’s caused by your face pressing against the pillow in the same way every night. Over time, this compression leaves your skin weaker in some places than others, and a wrinkle forms. You can prevent or slow down compression wrinkles by sleeping on your back.
8. Wash your face regularly
Taking that extra three to five minutes to wash your face at night is never a waste of your time. When you leave makeup on your face over night, your skin absorbs most of it. Since most cosmetics contain harsh chemicals, this contributes to the oxidative stress your skin faces. That’s why taking an extra three to five minutes to wash your face at night is never a waste of time. Avoid vigorously scrubbing your face. Use a water-based wipe to cleanse your face before you go to sleep, and finish your wash with some cold water splashed across your skin.
9. Avoid ultraviolet light
Ultraviolet light is the ultimate cause of most wrinkles on your face, neck, arms, and hands. And while ultraviolet light can’t be completely avoided, there are steps that you can take to lessen the degree of exposure that you receive. Opt for a sunless tanning lotion over long sunbathing sessions in the sand, and wear a hat that shields your face from the sun during long periods outdoors. When possible, wear longer pants and long-sleeved shirts when you’re adventuring outdoors. You’ll still absorb some sunshine, but you won’t be contributing to the wrinkles on your skin.
10. Up your antioxidants
Skin is exposed to more oxidative stress than any other organ in your body. That means your skin can be damaged just by going through your daily routine. Antioxidants help fight the damage that oxidative stress does to your cells. While you can purchase a sunscreen or wrinkle cream enriched with antioxidants, there are plenty of other ways to get that antioxidant boost for your skin. Eating a diet rich in blueberries, kidney beans, grapes, kale, and spinach will help you get healthy skin “from the inside out” and could reduce the signs of premature aging.
By itself, photo-aged skin isn’t a symptom to be concerned about. But if you’re especially concerned about your skin’s appearance as you grow older, you may want to speak to a dermatologist. If you’ve engaged in lifestyle habits such as smoking, excessive drinking, or tanning bed use, you should be particularly vigilant of your skin’s appearance, as you may be at risk for skin cancer.