When you are in your 20s, you are more likely to be fit and healthy. You are often too busy to pay attention to how your busy, stressful lifestyle can affect your skin. Sometimes you may even take advantage of how resilient your skin is when you are young, or think you have a lot of time before you need to start worrying about aging.
The truth is that many of the habits you have already developed, and continue to practice in your 20s have a major contribution to premature aging. It is important you are being proactive BEFORE you notice visible lines, crow’s feet, or sun spots. The good news is there are things you can be doing in your 20s that will help slow the aging process, and keep your skin looking young, beautiful and healthy throughout your 20s, 30s and beyond!
Ban Your Bad Habits!
Be careful what you drink! Caffeinated drinks such as coffee, soda, energy drinks and tea can dehydrate you, depriving your skin of vital nutrients. Alcohol is an additional culprit. Excessive alcohol consumption can certainly age your skin, and make your complexion appear dull, dry, sallow and puffy. If you want to keep your skin looking great, go easy on the alcohol and drink caffeinated drinks in moderation. Drinking water is your best bet, and you should always be hydrating throughout the day.
Do NOT smoke, and if you do, QUIT! Smoking is one way to age your skin quickly. Cigarette smoke will make your skin look older and contribute to wrinkles. When you smoke, the tiny blood vessels in the outermost layers of skin narrow; therefore, decreasing blood flow. This dries out your skin, and prevents oxygen and other nutrients, such as Vitamin A and C, from reaching the skin. Smoking also damages collagen and elastin—which gives your skin strength and elasticity.
If you do smoke, the best way to protect your skin is to quit! The Health Promotion Department on campus offers FREE smoking cessation counseling for students. If interested, call 619-594-4133.
Toss out Tanning! If you have not gotten the memo, tanning is SO not good for your skin. In a society that values tanned skin (especially in sunny southern California), it is hard to resist, right? Well, what if I told you that tanning beds double your risk of skin cancer, and that spending only 15-30 minutes in a tanning bed is similar to spending an entire day at the beach (The National Women’s Health Resource Center)?
Tanning in the sun is also damaging. The sun is responsible for 90-95% of wrinkles. Sun exposure also leads to dryness, age spots, discoloration and skin cancer!
Still want that bronzed glow? Try some of the tanning alternatives such as tinted lotions and creams, self-tanners, spray tans, or airbrush tans. All of these options will give you that glow you are looking for, without prematurely aging your skin and increasing your risk of cancer.
Gain Some Good Habits!
Start seeing a dermatologist at least once a year! This is one preventive screening you do NOT want to miss, and it is best to start early! Dermatologists can examine your skin for irregular moles and potential sun damage. When diagnosed early, skin cancer has a great prognosis, so screening regularly is your best bet. The dermatologist can also help you create a good skin care routine, and prescribe products and treatment that work best for your skin type.
Protect yourself from the sun! For the most complete sun protection:
• Avoid the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. This is when the sun is the strongest, and you are most at risk for burns!
• Wear protective clothing. Long-sleeved shirts and pants, as well as wide-brimmed hats best protect you from the sun. There is even special UV-blocking clothing that helps keep you protected, and cool at the same time. Many sport clothing companies have added these garments to their active/running lines!
• Use sunscreen! Apply sunscreen generously and often. It is suggested that you apply sunscreen 30 minutes BEFORE sun exposure and to reapply after swimming, sweating, drying off, or every 2 hours. Be sure you are using AT LEAST SPF 15, although SPF 30 or more is best, and be sure that it is broad-spectrum, meaning it protects against UVA and UVB rays. The kind of sunscreen you use (spray, lotion, stick) is less important than the protection level.
Identify your skin type! Doing so will help you choose products that are best formulated for your skincare needs. Buying the wrong product wastes money, and may even worsen your skin. Furthermore, many well-known skincare companies are selling products that are specifically formulated to address the skincare needs of men! Take advantage!
Eat well and exercise! Not only are these habits good for your body, but they also help your skin! A nutritious diet will help your skin get the nutrients it needs. For example, getting your recommended daily intake of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids helps prevent skin from looking dull and dry. Additionally, exercise helps your body sweat out toxins, and pump oxygen and nutrients throughout your body. This boosts overall circulation and reduces stress.
Be gentle with your skin! Limit bath/shower time and use warm (not hot) water to prevent dryness. Choose mild cleansers versus strong soaps to keep skin moisturized. When shaving, always apply shaving cream/lotion/gel before, and use a clean, sharp razor. Always shave in the direction the hair grows, not against it. Gently patting yourself dry after a shower or bath helps retain moisture on your skin from the products you use. Always MOISTURIZE! Be sure your moisturizer fits your skin type. This will help keep your skin soft, and looking healthy!
Incorporating some (or all) of these tips into your skincare plan will help prevent premature aging, and keep you looking your best! The best advice is to not wait until you notice your skin aging, but to start adopting a healthy skincare routine early on. Starting early and being diligent about taking care of your skin, just like you do your body, is best way to keep yourself and your skin looking youthful!
By: Lori Bednarchik, MPH, CHES
-Skin care. 5 tips for healthy skin. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/skin-care/SN00003/METHOD=print
-Skin care in your 20s. http://www.skincare-news.com/a-5690-Skin_Care_in_Your_20s.aspx
-The 10 best skin care products for 20-somethings. http://style.uk.msn.com/shopping/articles.aspx?cp-documentid=152703301