Wrinkles. Many of us dread the arrival of those lines, crinkles, and creases, but we know they'll etch their way into our faces sooner or later. You can't avoid aging, obviously, but it turns out that you don't have to end up with a prunelike complexion. If you follow some commonsense home remedies, you can prevent some wrinkling and continue to put your best face forward.
First, it's important to understand how skin ages and why we end up with wrinkles. One cause of skin aging occurs as the skin begins to wear out. By the time a person reaches 70 or 80, the skin and bones (including the skull) begin to thin and the layer of fat underneath the skin shrinks.
Another factor that comes into play over the years, causing skin to sag, is gravity. The corners of the mouth turn down, and the upper lip may disappear altogether. Eyelids droop, the tip of the nose dips, and jowls forms. Even your ears will begin to hang a little lower.
Sleep lines can add to your facial etchings, too, as can the facial expressions you've worn through the years. The muscles that make you laugh, cry, wink, and pucker your lips pull on the skin, which can leave permanent creases over time.
Still, these mostly unavoidable physiological changes actually play a very small role in the development of wrinkles. Unprotected exposure to the sun's ultraviolet rays is by far the biggest culprit. That so-called healthy glow you get from a tan is anything but healthy for your skin.
So while you can't prevent certain body changes, you can protect your skin from the greatest culprit in wrinkle formation and help lessen the impact of some of the contributing factors. Read the following home remedies to find out how.
Wear sunscreen every day. Applying sunscreen with a sun-protective factor (SPF) of at least 15 and avoiding the sun as much as possible from 10:00 A.M. to 4:00 P.M., when its rays are most intense, has two major benefits: Not only will you minimize your chance of growing wrinkled with age, you'll guard against skin cancer, which in its most serious form can be fatal.
Basking in the warm sun may feel wonderful, but you'll hopefully find it harder to relax once you know that ultraviolet radiation is damaging cells that support your skin and keep it firm and young looking. It destroys both collagen (a fibrous protein) and elastin (a protein that forms flexible tissue fibers), found in the lower layer of skin. The loss of these two important proteins causes the skin to lose elasticity and promotes wrinkle formation.
How susceptible you are to sun damage depends on the kind of skin you inherited from your parents. Fair-skinned individuals burn more easily, while darker-skinned individuals have more of the pigment that helps protect against the sun's ultraviolet rays.
No matter what type of skin you have, however, your skin will thank you if you apply sunscreen every morning (and follow the instructions for reapplying it found on the product's label) as part of your daily routine. The earlier in life you make this a habit, the better for your skin.
Dermatologists say that people who always take proper skin-protection steps, such as slathering on sunscreen every day and avoiding strong sunlight, often have youthful-looking skin well into their later years. But it's never too late to adopt a healthy skin-care routine. One study looked at older people with sun-damaged skin who moved to a nursing home and stayed out of the sun. Researchers found that some of their wrinkles and blotchiness actually faded.
Get some shades. Wearing sunglasses that block out the vast majority of the sun's ultraviolet rays when you're outdoors during the day can help protect the soft, sensitive skin around your eyes, where crow's feet form and where sunscreen may not reach. Choosing a pair that also shelters your eyes from glare can help prevent squinting, which contributes to wrinkles in the eye area, too.
Sleep on your back. Sleeping with your face pressed against the pillow can cause "sleep lines" that, over the years, can turn into wrinkles. Men tend to get sleep creases on the side of the forehead (depending on which side they snooze on), and women tend to get them on the cheeks. It may be a hard habit to break, but if you can train yourself to sleep on your back, you may end up with fewer facial lines.
Don't smoke. Not only can smoking cause cancer and numerous other health problems, it can contribute to wrinkles. Studies have found that premature wrinkling increased with cigarette consumption and the length of time the individual had been smoking. Heavy smokers were almost five times more likely to show excessive skin wrinkling than nonsmokers. The researchers speculate that smoking speeds wrinkling by damaging collagen. Squinting from smoke irritation can also cause or worsen crow's feet, and pursing the lips to puff on a cigarette can contribute to vertical lines around the mouth.
Moisturize. Using a moisturizer can temporarily improve the appearance of wrinkles by plumping up your skin, but it won't have a long-lasting effect. Moisturizers work by locking in moisture on the surface of the skin. The optimal way to use a moisturizer is to apply it to wet skin and then pat your skin dry. (More and more moisturizers also contain sunscreen, so if you opt for one of those, you'll get double the benefits).
Fine-tune your facial expressions. Some people have a tendency to knot their eyebrows, frown, glare, or crease their brow, and they've got the wrinkles to show for it. Often, we're not even aware of the expressions we make. If you watch yourself in the mirror and notice how you use your muscles to form expressions, you may be able to make a conscious effort to modify some of them. And if you suspect that your wrinkle-inducing expressions are frequently part of your reaction to stress, you may be able to protect your skin and your overall health by looking into relaxation techniques, such as visualization, guided imagery, yoga, or meditation.
You may have heard one or more of the following suggestions for preventing or removing wrinkles. Unfortunately, they're simply wishful thinking.
Drink at least eight glasses of water a day. The thought was that drinking that much water would plump up skin, so wrinkles wouldn't show as much. While drinking plenty of fluids is generally considered beneficial for your overall health, don't expect it to keep your skin smooth.
Skin massage can smooth away your wrinkles. It's just not so. You may also have heard that massaging the scalp makes hair grow. Neither claim is true.
Hard scrubbing can rub away wrinkles. Using an abrasive cleanser or facial sponge to scrub away wrinkles is a waste of time. Wrinkles are caused by damage below the skin surface, not on the top.