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5 Natural Ways to Reduce Wrinkles
5 Natural Ways to Reduce Wrinkles
Chances are, when you check out your face in a mirror, you spot more fine lines and wrinkles than you did during your youth. Many of us started sabotaging our skin early in life by frolicking in ultraviolet sunrays without protection, smoking cigarettes or imbibing alcohol—all of which damage skin cells and cause wrinkles, according to the National Institute on Aging.
But even if you’ve always worn sunscreen and never sipped wine, simply breathing and being exposed to oxygen inevitably makes skin appear older. Thank oxidative damage, which happens when skin cells become fraught with harmful free radicals over time, causing inflammation and, ultimately, wrinkles. “Although it’s a natural consequence of living in an oxygen-rich environment, oxidative damage contributes heavily to wrinkles,” says Valori Treloar, MD, an integrative dermatologist and coauthor of The Clear Skin Diet (Cumberland House, 2007).
What’s more, our faces become less resistant to wrinkling as we age because we don’t produce as much collagen, a key protein that gives skin its structure. “The skin’s middle layer, called the dermis, is made mostly of collagen and provides a spongy support for the overlying, paper-thin epidermis,” Treloar says. “But when collagen production decreases, the dermis thins and loses its ability to defy gravity’s pull, making skin saggier and wrinkles more pronounced.”
Even if your skin isn’t as smooth or supple as it once was, you can embrace the face you have today and make it look its best. Forget invasive and chemical wrinkle-masking drugs such as Botox, which can cause nerve damage and other health problems. Instead, try these five natural solutions to help hide existing wrinkles and even keep new ones at bay.
1. Sleep tight, sleep right. “Skin-cell growth and repair happen during sleep, so when you don’t get enough rest, these processes are compromised,” Treloar says. Although individual sleep needs vary, most experts suggest getting a solid eight hours of sleep per night. Treloar adds that sleep deprivation elevates stress hormones, which can spur wrinkle-causing oxidation and inflammation.
Sleep position matters too: According to the American Academy of Dermatology, lying on your side or stomach with your face pressed against the pillow can create chin, cheek and forehead lines—which won’t go away without adequate collagen to spring it back into place. Snooze on your back to avoid developing new wrinkles.
2. Drink water. Although research proving hydration’s effect on skin aging is lacking, many experts believe adequate water intake can help hide wrinkles. “Drinking water helps rehydrate skin, making it look more refreshed and revealing fewer fine lines,” says Jeanette Jacknin, MD, a holistic dermatologist and author of Smart Medicine for Your Skin (Avery, 2001). According to Jolene Hart, an American Association of Drugless Practitioners–certified beauty and health coach, drinking too little water also makes you more vulnerable to new lines. “Not getting enough water can interfere with proper detoxification and speed up the inflammation and aging processes,” she says.
3. Moisturize. Our skin also loses the ability to lock in moisture as we age, increasing the appearance of wrinkles. “We produce less oil to protect skin cells against transepidermal water loss, so skin dries out, making wrinkles more apparent,” Treloar says. Ceramides, which are powerful moisture-trapping lipids on the skin’s outer surface, also become more sparing. “Skin will look more aged when there aren’t enough ceramides to keep the outermost layer protected,” Hart says.
An easy way to disguise wrinkles? Moisturize with a nontoxic, natural cream, balm or oil (steer clear of conventional lotions that are loaded with health-harming chemicals). Treloar says it’s especially important to lube up post-shower: “Bathing puts water into the skin, but it must be sealed in immediately after you towel off,” she explains.
Treloar recommends emollients containing ceramides to help repair skin-barrier function. Jacknin says products rich in natural oils and omega-3 fatty acids work well to plump up the skin but cautions that collagen-infused creams won’t resupply your stash of this protein, as some manufacturers claim. “Applied topically, collagen molecules are too large to penetrate into the dermis, so they get locked outside without affecting skin structure,” she says.
4. Try antioxidant-rich topicals. To help temper oxidative damage and slow the development of new wrinkles, apply a daily facial serum that’s rich in a free radical–fighting antioxidant such as dimethylaminoethanol (DMAE), alpha-lipoic acid (ALA), vitamin A or vitamin C.
“DMAE has a strong appetite for free radicals and works by deactivating their power to harm skin cells,” Jacknin says. “Topical ALA boosts cellular levels of glutathione, the body’s most important antioxidant. Both Retin-A—a form of vitamin A—and vitamin C, which is essential for efficient collagen synthesis, also help ward off wrinkles.”
Treloar points out that antioxidant-based serums work best at stopping further damage, not reversing existing wrinkles. “They’re not a quick fix—you’ll likely see benefits only over a long period of time,” she says.
5. Eat vegetables, not candy. Several studies show that eating antioxidant-rich foods helps neutralize free radicals and slow the aging process. “Vegetables are the best food source of antioxidants,” Trelaor says. “They come from the vitamins as well as from the polyphenolic molecules that give plants fragrance, flavor and color.” Veggies are also low glycemic, meaning they’re digested slowly and don’t spike blood sugar, which triggers inflammation and can cause wrinkles. “Try for 10 fist-size servings of vegetables per day, and eat the rainbow,” she adds.
Trelaor also suggests cutting back on foods that encourage oxidative stress. “Avoiding foods with pro-oxidant and inflammatory ingredients, such as trans fats, high fructose corn syrup, refined carbohydrates and alcohol, may be as important as adding protective foods or nutrients to your diet,” she says.
By: Melaina Juntti
Melaina is a freelance writer and editor in Madison, Wis., who focuses on natural health and wellness. Her work has appeared in Men's Journal, Delicious Living, Natural Foods Merchandiser, Natural Solutions, Inside Triathlon and Triathlete magazines.
February 23rd, 2012