Scientific Skincare - How To Look Younger Than Your Age
Skincare,  Anti-Aging

How To Look Younger Than Your Age (7 Scientific Secrets To Looking Younger)

In this day and age, where we are constantly bombarded with photo-shopped images of perfect wrinkle-free skin, everyone is looking for the secrets to looking younger. While photo-shop is probably the biggest (non) secret, there are a number of evidence-based tips for how to look younger than your age.

Of course, there are some aspects of aging that are genetic or intrinsic (internal) that we are unable to control. However, the majority of skin aging is premature and extrinsic (external). This is often referred to as intrinsic vs extrinsic aging, or chronological vs premature aging. In order to understand how to look younger than your age, we first need to understand the aspects of aging that we can affect and those that we can’t.

How To Look Younger Than Your Age - 7 Scientific Secrets To Looking Younger

Intrinsic Vs Extrinsic Aging

Intrinsic aging is often referred to as chronological aging or natural aging. This is the inevitable way that your skin ages over time and is rarely influenced by behavioral changes. Skin that ages intrinsically is usually smooth and unblemished with some exaggerated expression lines [1].

Factors that affect the way that skin intrinsically ages include:

  • Ethnicity – High levels of pigmentation (and therefore darker skin color) appear to naturally protect the skin from UV radiation and its associated aging effects (photoaging). Darker skin types also have a higher level of lipids and water content in the stratum corneum and may have a higher skin cell turnover rate [2].
  • Anatomical variations – the skin on different bodily areas of the same person has a differing thickness and lipid composition, and thus ages at differing rates. In addition, areas with high blood flow age slower as blood flow decreases with age [3].
  • Hormones – specifically, changes of estrogen levels in the skin of women around menopause where the decline of estrogen causes skin aging (among other symptoms). Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can alleviate the symptoms of menopause, including reversing skin aging, but is controversial due to the potential health risks associated with it (e.g. blood clots, and some cancers) [4].

As you can see, there is relatively little that we can change about the way our skin intrinsically ages. However, there are a few characteristics that are present in both intrinsically and extrinsically aged skin that can be treated, such as:

  • Decreased skin cell turnover
  • A reduction in dermal thickness
  • A reduction in collagen production, particularly type I collagen, with total collagen levels per unit area of skin surface reducing by approximately 1% each year.
  • Loss of skin elasticity
  • Loss of hyaluronic acid in the epidermis (however, dermal levels of hyaluronic acid remain stable in intrinsically aged skin)
  • Reduced skin barrier function and thus skin hydration [1]

While these characteristics are present in both intrinsically and extrinsically aged skin, they are far more severe and pronounced in extrinsically aged skin.

In fact, the vast majority of facial skin aging is extrinsic, meaning that it is caused by environmental and behavioral factors that we can mostly change. Extrinsic aging factors include pollution, poor nutrition, ambient conditions (e.g. temperature and humidity), medications, smoking, and ultraviolet (UV) radiation [1][3].

The biggest contributors to skin aging are smoking and UV radiation, with UV radiation accounting for approximately 80% [1]to 90% [3]of facial skin aging.

So the majority of tips on how to look younger than your age, and the secrets to looking younger overall, will involve reducing the extrinsic aging factors where possible. Here they are…

 

7 Scientific Secrets Of How To Look Younger Than Your Age

 

1. Use A Broad-Spectrum Sunscreen Every Day

As mentioned before, skin damage from UV radiation accounts for 80-90% of all facial skin aging. That’s huge! However, this secret to looking younger is so often overlooked. Many people think that they don’t need to wear sunscreen if it’s cloudy or if they are indoors all day. This is often due to the belief that sunburn and sun damage are one and the same, but this is not the case.

In fact, the damage from UVA radiation has often been overlooked as it requires 1000 x the radiation levels of UVB to cause sunburn. However, it is now known that UVA radiation is responsible for the majority of the skin damage associated with photoaging due to the fact that it is able to penetrate the dermis (UVB only penetrates the epidermis due to its shorter wavelength) [3].

Another common misconception involves moisturizers and foundations with ‘added SPF’. Firstly, the amount of product typically applied would not reach the level of advertised SPF protection and, secondly, SPF only protects against UVB and not UVA. For this reason, people often have a false sense of security and believe that they are protected from the harmful effects of UV radiation when using these products.

For optimal sun protection, choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen (both UVA & UVB protection) that is SPF30 or higher. There is not much added protection between SPF 30 and SPF 50 (97% vs 98% UVB blocked/absorbed), but higher SPF’s are often required to offer higher UVA protection due to the PPD method.

To extend the protection of your sunscreen into the longer UVA and visible light spectrums, look for mineral sunscreens with added iron oxide.

Product Recommendations: Heliocare 360 Mineral SPF 50, EltaMD Clear Facial Sunscreen SPF46, La Roche-Posy Anthelios Mineral Sunscreen SPF50.

2. Don’t Smoke

Smoking reduced the blood flow to the skin, which, in turn, deprives the skin of oxygen and vital nutrients. Research has also shown that individuals who smoke have fewer collagen and elastin fibers in the dermis and rougher skin texture. Furthermore, it appears that the relationship between smoking and wrinkles is dose-dependent – basically, the more frequently a person smokes, the more wrinkles they are likely to have. In fact, wrinkling is supposedly 3x worse in smokers than non-smokers [3].

 

3. Use An Antioxidant Serum

Both UV radiation and smoking, as well as a number of other extrinsic aging factors, cause the production of free radicals, such as reactive oxygen species (ROS), that damage DNA and alter gene expression pathways. These alterations can lead to the break-down of collagen and build-up of elastin, as seen in photo-aged skin [1].

Unfortunately, sunscreen is only able to block 55% of the free radicals produced by UV exposure [5]and, alone, provides no protection from the free radicals produced from other forms of solar radiation such as infrared radiation and visible light. Visible light, itself, accounts for 33% of the free radical production in the skin after exposure to solar radiation (UV radiation accounted for 67%) [6].

However, antioxidants are molecules that co-exist to protect the skin from free radicals, including ROS. In fact, antioxidants can reduce the production of free radicals by up to 78% [7]. This means that they can ‘mop-up’ the damage done by the sun, pollution, and smoking and help prevent the breakdown of collagen.

One antioxidant in particular, vitamin C, is essential for collagen synthesis in the skin which means it offers a more general anti-aging effect as well. Plus, a number of antioxidants can improve inflammatory skin conditions and reduce hyperpigmentation.

Recommended Products: SeoulCeuticals Day Glow Serum, Avene A-Oxitive Antioxidant Defense Serum, SkinResourceMD Total Antioxidant Facial Serum.

 

4. Hydrate Your Skin

Have you ever noticed your skin looking older after a heavy night, or used a skincare product that appeared to reduce fine lines almost instantly? If you have, this wasn’t due to sudden aging or anti-aging but due to the fact that your skin was dehydrated. Dehydrated skin leads to a dull, uneven skin tone and fine lines that are suddenly more visible.

Dehydrated skin can result from aging, sun exposure, pollution, ambient conditions (e.g. temperature & humidity), and certain medications [8]. As you may notice, all of these are also extrinsic aging factors. Another common cause of dehydrated skin is the use of harsh cleansing products that damage the skin’s barrier by decreasing skin surface lipids [9]and damaging stratum corneum proteins[10].

The good news is that improving skin hydration can almost immediately improve the appearance of skin. Look for products and moisturizers with natural moisturizing factors (e.g. urea, lactic acid, amino acids) and lipids (e.g. fatty acids and ceramides). These ingredients can help strengthen the skin’s barrier (the stratum corneum), thus improving skin hydration by increasing the water content of the skin and reducing transepidermal water loss (TEWL; water lost from the skin) [8]. Hyaluronic acid is another excellent ingredient for skin hydration as it can bind up to 1000x its weight in water, locking more water into the skin.

As well as hydrating your skin from the outside, you can also improve skin hydration, as well as increasing overall body hydration, by drinking more water and less diuretic substances (e.g. coffee/tea, etc.) and alcohol.

However, it should be noted that coffee, black tea, green tea, and red wine all possess antioxidant activity, which brings us onto our next point…

Recommended Products: Hada Lobo Tokyo Skin Plumping Gel, Neutrogena Hydroboost Water Gel, CeraVe Moisturizing Cream.

5. Improve Your Diet

Consuming antioxidants is another way to reduce the free radical damage caused by extrinsic aging factors. This generally means consuming plenty of fruits and vegetables but, as mentioned above, coffee, green tea, black tea, and red wine also have antioxidant activity [11].

In addition, whole grains, oils, fatty fish, meat and dairy also contain essential vitamins and minerals that may not be available from fruits and vegetables alone [12]. This means that, to make it easier to achieve the recommended daily nutrients, it is usually better to consume a wide variety of foods.

However, there is one type of food that is associated with increased skin aging – sugar! This is due to the products of a process called glycation, where proteins, lipids, or nucleic acids bond with sugar molecules (e.g. glucose and fructose) without enzyme mediation. This results in the inhibition of the protein, lipid or nucleic acid’s ability to function. The products of glycation are known as advanced glycation end products (AGEs) [13].

Glycation is particularly prevalent in aged skin, where it results in structural and functional changes in the skin. One protein known to be particularly affected by glycation is collagen. In fact, collagen in the skin can experience up to a 50% increase in glycation over a persons lifetime [13].

Another dietary factor that affects the production of AGEs is the way in which food is cooked. For example, water-based cooking (e.g. boiling and steaming) produces lower AGEs than grilling, frying, and roasting [14].

So, given this research, one of the secrets to younger looking skin is to reduce sugar intake and boil or steam food. However, there are also a number of foods that can reduce the production of AGEs, including antioxidants, cinnamon, cloves, oregano, ginger, garlic, alpha-lipoic acid, taurine, carnosine, flavonoids, vitamin E, niacinamide, zinc, and manganese [15].

6. Increase Skin Cell Turnover & Renewal

As mentioned earlier, one of the characteristics of aged skin (both intrinsically aged and extrinsically aged) is a reduced rate of skin cell turnover. This basically means that it takes longer for new skin cells to reach the surface of the skin.

However, certain products can increase skin cell turnover and keep skin looking younger. For example, topical retinoids are known to influence a variety of cellular processes and can increase the rate of skin cell turnover and cell renewal [16]. This has a direct impact on wrinkle appearance and formation [17].

Another way that skin cell turnover and renewal can be achieved with cosmetics is by chemical exfoliation with alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) such as glycolic acid and lactic acid. AHA’s can also increase skin thickness and firmness, improve skin softness, and improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles [17].

Product Recommendations: Sunday Riley Good Genes Lactic Acid Treatment, Elizabeth Arden Retinol Ceramide Capsules, Murad Retinol Youth Renewal Serum.

7. Exercise Regularly

Blood flow decreases as we age which means that less oxygen and nutrients are available for the skin. However, exercise increases blood flow in the body and to the skin as part of it’s ‘cooling’ mechanism [18]. This increase in blood flow can help nourish cells as well as remove waste products, including free radicals.

In addition, physical activity is associated with lower levels of AGE production [19], and more intense forms of exercise can stimulate growth hormone secretion [20]. As levels of growth hormone decrease as we age [21], this may be one of the ways in which regular exercise can keep us looking younger. Other ways that exercise may contribute to younger looking skin is through the regulation of skin mitochondrial metabolism [22].

Regardless of the underlying mechanism of action, regular exercise can make skin appear more youthful. However, there are some ways that exercising may have the opposite effect, for example, due to UV exposure if exercising outdoors without adequate protection.

How To Look Younger Than Your Age  – Summary

As you can see there are some aspects of aging that are inevitable and largely out of our control. However, there are a number of aspects that we can influence with lifestyle changes and good skin care. Other secrets to looking younger include getting plenty of sleep and caloric restriction.

 

References

 

  1. Baumann, L. (2007). ‘Skin ageing and its treatment’, J Pathol., 211(2), 241-251. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17200942
  2. Robinson, M. (1999). ‘Population differences in skin structure and physiology and the susceptibility to irritant and allergic contact dermatitis: implications for skin safety testing and risk assessment’, Contact Dermatitis, 41, 65-79. Available at: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1111/j.1600-0536.1999.tb06229.x
  3. Farage, M., Miller, K., Elsner, P. & Maibach, H. (2008). ‘Intrinsic and extrinsic factors in skin ageing: a review’, Int J Cosmet Sci., 30(2), 87-95. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18377617
  4. Borda, L., Wong, L. & Tosti, A. (2019). ‘Bioidentical hormone therapy in menopause: relevance in dermatology’, Dermatology Online Journal., 25(1), Available at: https://escholarship.org/uc/item/4c20m28z
  5. Haywood, R., Wardman, P., Sanders, R. & Linge, C. (2003). ‘Sunscreens inadequately protect against ultraviolet-A-induced free radicals in skin: implications for skin aging and melanoma?’, J Invest Dermatol, 121(4), 862-868. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14632206
  6. Haywood, R. (2006) Relevance of sunscreen application method, visible light and sunlight intensity to free-radical protection: A study of ex vivo human skin. Photochem. Photobiol. 82, 1123– 1131. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17205635
  7. Liebel, F., Kaur, S., Ruvolo, E., Kollias, N. & Southall, M. (2012). ‘Irradiation of skin with visible light induced reactive oxygen species and matrix-degrading enzymes’, J Invest Dermatol., 132(7), pp. 1901-1907. Available at: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022202X15358292
  8. Tfayli, A., Jamal, D., Vyumvuhore, R., Manfait, M. & Baillet-Guffroy, A. (2013). ‘Hydration effects on the barrier function of stratum corneum lipids: Raman analysis of ceramides 2, III and 5’, Analyst, 138(21), 6582-6588. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23951566
  9. Draelos, Z. (2008). ‘Clinical situations conducive to proactive skin health and anti-aging improvement’, J Invest Dermatol Symp Proc., 13(1), 25-27. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18369336/
  10. Levin, J. & Miller, R. (2011). ‘A guide to the ingredients and potential benefits of over the counter cleansers and moisturizers for rosacea patients’, J Clin Aesthet Dermatol., 4(8), 31-49. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3168246/
  11. Yashin, A., Yashin, Y., Wang, J. & Nemzer, B. (2013). ‘Antioxidant and Antiradical Activity of Coffee’, Antioxidants (Basel)., 2(4), 230-245. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4665516/
  12. Draelos, Z. (2010). ‘Nutrition and enhancing youthful-appearing skin’, Clin Dermatol., 28(4), 400-408. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20620756/
  13. Nguyen, H. & Katta, R. (2015). ‘Sugar sag: glycation and the role of diet in aging skin’, Skin Therapy Letter, 20(6). Available at: https://www.skintherapyletter.com/aging-skin/glycation/
  14. O’Brien, J. & Morrissey, P. (1989). ‘Nutritional and toxicological aspects of the Maillard browning reaction in foods’, Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr., 28(3), 211-248. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2669832
  15. Dearlove, R., Greenspan, P., Hartle, D., Swanson, R. & Hargrove, J. (2008). ‘Inhibition of protein glycation by extracts of culinary herbs and spices’, J Med Food., 11(2), 275-281. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18598169
  16. Mukherjee, S., Date, A., Patravale, V., Korting, H., Roeder, A. & Weindl, G. (2006). ‘Retinoids in the treatment of skin aging: an overview of clinical efficacy and safety’, Clin Interv Aging., 1(4), 327-348. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2699641/
  17. Brohem, C., Mambro, V., Lorencini, M. (2016). ‘Therapeutic alternatives for the treatment of epidermal aging’, Textbook of Aging Skin, 1917-1927. Available at: https://link.springer.com/referenceworkentry/10.1007%2F978-3-662-47398-6_140
  18. Roberts, M., Wenger, C., Stolwijk, J. & Nadel, E. (1977). ‘Skin blood flow and sweating changes following exercise training and heat acclimation’, J Appl Physiol Respr Environ Exerc Physiol., 43(1), 133-137. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/893254/
  19. Isami, F., West, B., Nakajima, S. & Yamagishi, S. (2018). ‘Association of advanced glycation end products, evaluated by skin autofluorescence, with lifestyle habits in general Japanese population’, J Int Med Res., 46(3), 1043-1051. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5972252/
  20. Wideman, L., Weitman, J., Hartman, M., Veldhuis, J. & Weltman, A. (2002). ‘Growth hormone release during acute and chronic aerobic and resistance exercise: recent findings’, Sports Med., 32(15), 987-1004. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12457419
  21. Zouboulis, C. & Makrantonaki, E. (2012). ‘Hormonal therapy of intrinsic aging’, Rejuvenation Res., 15(3), 302-312. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22533363/
  22. Crane, J., MacNeil, L., Lally, J. et al. (2015). ‘Exercise-stimulated interleukin-15 is controlled by AMPK and regulates skin metabolism and aging’, Aging Cell, 14(4), 625-634. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4531076/

 

 

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Laura is a skincare addict and sunscreen enthusiast with more than 10 years of experience working in healthcare and over 5 years of experience working as a nurse. She has experience in plastic and reconstructive surgery, dermatology, and aesthetics and has received training in laser treatments. Laura is currently working in healthcare education and writes for ScienceBecomesHer in her spare time. Read More.

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