Have you observed how some people keep looking young and ageless despite their age? And there are other people who tend to look older than they really are. Ageing is natural, but looking aged isn’t essentially so. The ageing process cannot be stopped but can be delayed. The rate at which we age, or appear to age, is heavily dependent on our lifestyle. Here is the secret, or part of it.
Shun the sun
First thing is to shun the sun. The sun is the No.1 enemy of youthful skin. What the sun does is fast-forward your aging clock. As from around age 40, you cross that line — your collagen and elastic tissue have experienced enough damage to really start showing a change. Repeated sun exposure eventually leads to brown/black spots, fine wrinkles, deeper creases, and sagging skin. If you need proof, just look at the skin on the underside of your arm where the rays are less likely to reach. It looks smoother and less blotchy? Protecting your skin year-round will help prevent you from further accelerating your age. It’s important to pay close attention to the skin around the eyes. It’s more delicate than the skin on the rest of the face, and therefore more susceptible to damage. When you don’t wear sunglasses, you squint, and all that squinting eventually turns into crow’s-feet, an evident sign of aged skin. Whenever possible, avoid midday rays. Wear a hat/cap and sunglasses.
Don’t wash your hair every day
I learned a long time ago that when you wash or shampoo your hair every day, you strip it of its natural oils and leave it dry, brittle and dull. Try shampooing only once or twice a week. By doing so, you’ll start to experience softer, shinier hair. Keep your shower at a warm temperature. Hot water can dry out your hair and skin, leaving it dull and prone to damage.
Drink enough water
Drinking and bathing with enough water every day is one of the best things anyone can do for their body. It supports your health on so many levels, like regulating digestion, enhancing immune function, increasing energy, aiding weight loss. Water boosts mental performance and can have a tremendous effect on the way you look thanks to its ability to hydrate and clear up your skin. Dehydrated skin looks dull and saggy, and can make wrinkles look more defined.
Lack of sleep definitely saps your glow, instantly aging you (think puffy, red eyes). But it also affects your skin in stealth ways: Fatigue causes cortisol, the stress hormone, to rise sharply. If cortisol is chronically high, it can age you by breaking down collagen in skin. Just one night time sleep disruption can prompt your immune system to turn against healthy organs and tissue. Pick a bedtime, and then an hour beforehand, no more BlackBerry-ing, e-mailing, or TV news. Instead, read a novel, watch something funny on TV, or have sex. Cortisol is at its lowest when you’re sleeping, during exercise, and after sex. Then, if you wake up in the middle of the night and can’t fall back asleep, do something that bores you, like reading your least favourite section of the newspaper.
Eat homemade meals
A healthy, balanced, plant-based diet is the key to glowing, healthy skin. When you eat at “mama put” or fast food joints, you don’t really know what you’re putting into your body, and it’s likely not the healthiest option. Once in a while is fine, but you’ve got to be conscious about getting whole, clean foods into your diet on a consistent basis. These foods contain essential vitamins and minerals that repair and strengthen your body from the inside out, promoting a youthful appearance and optimal body functioning. The more you eat out, the more you rob your body of those good-for-you nutrients and fill it with excess fat, sodium and sugar. The modern Western diet is arguably the biggest cause of premature aging. Sadly African and typical Nigerian diets are being replaced by foods that are contain excessive amounts of sugar. Today, sugar is in almost everything we eat out of a box or bag. Sugar consumption has increased and it contributes to dark circles under the eyes, wrinkles, dehydrated skin and in some cases, acne. Take in diets rich in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, like those found in avocados and nuts. They are incredible skin-boosting foods.
Load up on antioxidants
Antioxidants act as scavengers that neutralise free radicals — the particles that, in skin, cause sun damage and wrinkles, and can lead to skin cancer. They can also help protect against damage from environmental assaults like pollution and smoking. Some foods are loaded with antioxidants that are beneficial to the body overall, ingest them and apply them topically. Look for vitamins C and E, pomegranate, idebenone, soy, green tea, niacinamide, and coenzyme Q10 in the ingredient list to get the most benefits. You have to keep using them for five or six months.
Exfoliate gently and often
At-home peels or even a simple face scrub can make your complexion look much more youthful and radiant and may also boost collagen production. With age, skin tends to be drier and dead cells cling to the surface, giving it a rougher texture. Regular exfoliating is also therapeutic with acne-prone skin. People who have sensitive complexions should exfoliate less often — since those dead cells actually shield skin from irritation. The most effective, least expensive options are grainy scrubs that have small, round particles. A good example is St. Ives Elements Micro-dermabrasion or SkinEffects Cell2Cell Anti-Aging Exfoliating Cleansing Scrub.
All-in-all, how we take care of our bodies, day-to-day, makes the difference. Small tweaks to everyday routine can have big rewards, like taking years off of your face and adding years to your life. While you may not expect the fountain of youth, you need to take note of simple but effective lifestyle changes; you’ll be looking like a fresher, younger version of yourself in no time.