Scientists have divided the aging of our skin into two parts. One, called intrinsic aging, is beyond our control at this point, because it is hereditary. As they continue to study the human genome, no doubt solutions will eventually be found. For now we will have to concentrate our efforts on the other type of aging, called extrinsic aging. This is the aging caused by external factors such as sun exposure, smoking, gravity, lack of exercise, alcohol use, stress, and sleep loss. All of these are factors under our control, though most of us will not exercise that control.

Sun exposure tops my list of the biggest danger to your skin. Results of sun exposure range from darkened freckles to melanoma with wrinkles, sagging, and dry leathery appearance falling in between. If sun exposure is one of your concerns regarding your skin health then you are already late for an appointment with your dermatologist. If you have not yet overexposed your skin to the sun, do not avoid the sun, but take a few common sense measures when enjoying the dangerous but health giving rays. Always wear sunscreen outdoors. Limit the length of time you are exposed. It has been reported that taking CoQ10 gives some protection from the suns rays.

I place cigarette smoke as culprit number two in the skin aging process. It would hold first position except people seem to be getting the word about the dangers of smoking and when they quit smoking most of the effects are self-reversing. That’s assuming no smoking related cancers.

Alcohol abuse dilates small blood vessels in the skin thus increasing blood flow near the surface where most of the small vessels are. These vessels become permanently damaged and cause the flushed appearance of those using alcohol in unhealthy quantities.

I lump lack of exercise, stress, and sleep loss all together for the simple reason that regular exercise will usually eliminate the other two. Exercise is also the only tool you have available to fight the effects of gravity. Lack of sleep causes far more problems than the circles around the eyes and a general droopy appearance. Lack of sleep may be a cause as well as an effect on the presence of stress. Stressed people usually wear a worried frown that becomes permanent over time. A regular exercise regimen coupled with meditation such as yoga can relieve stress and promote a healthy night of sleep.

Prevention is always far better than any cure or treatment. But if you are reading this article, odds are you have neglected prevention and are seeking a remedy for the damage already done.

The beginning point for any skin treatment program is cleanliness. Wash your skin daily or in some cases twice a day with warm(not hot) water. Follow the washing with a liberal application of a good moisturizing cream or at least a moisturizing lotion. Creams are as a rule more effective than lotions, but if a lotion is your preference go for it. You are more apt to stick with a program if you use products you personally prefer. For smokers and sun-lovers, a liberal application of your favorite lotion several times during the day is the recommended course of action.

The short version:

  • Always wear sunscreen!
  • Quit smoking!
  • Get plenty of exercise!
  • Stay clean and moisturize!

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