Young and healthy are synonymous with beauty. There are a lot of things that we, TSLMS members and readers, do to assure that we remain as young looking and healthy as possible. We have access to a lot of procedures that can help. Many of those involve lasers, surgery, and chemical or biological options which manipulate the skin, fat and/or bone structure. However, there are several things, aside from having work done, that have a great impact on beauty. The top three things are repeatedly touted by dermatologists, magazines, and even beauty bloggers as the true secrets to beauty. And, the really great thing is that all three are completely free!
Avoid The Sun
Seriously! There is little more damaging to the skin than the photo-aging process that comes with unfiltered exposure to Ultraviolet Rays (UV). There are three different types of UV radiation, as noted by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). They are UVA, UVB and UVC.
UVA rays have the longest wavelengths, followed by UVB, and UVC rays have the shortest wavelengths. While UVA and UVB rays are transmitted through the atmosphere, all UVC and some UVB rays are absorbed by the Earth’s ozone layer. So, most of the UV rays you come in contact with are UVA with a small amount of UVB.
Like all forms of light on the EM spectrum, UV radiation is classified by wavelength. Wavelength describes the distance between the peaks in a series of waves. UVB rays have a short wavelength that reaches the outer layer of your skin (the epidermis). UVA rays have a longer wavelength that can penetrate the middle layer of your skin (the dermis).
Not only can this impact your skin in the absolute worst possible way (terminal skin cancer), as the American Cancer Society warns us, but even in small doses it causes damage.
“Radiation is the emission (sending out) of energy from any source. There are many types of radiation, ranging from very high-energy (high-frequency) radiation – like x-rays and gamma rays – to very low-energy (low-frequency) radiation – like radio waves. UV rays are in the middle of this spectrum. They have more energy than visible light, but not as much as x-rays…” The scientific publication Molecules article, republished by the National Institutes of Health, explains “Being the largest and most visible organ of the body and heavily influenced by environmental factors, skin is ideal to study the long-term effects of aging. Throughout our lifetime, we accumulate damage generated by UV radiation. UV causes inflammation, immune changes, physical changes, impaired wound healing and DNA damage that promotes cellular senescence and carcinogenesis. Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer and among the malignancies of highest increasing incidence over the last several decades. Melanoma incidence is directly related to age, with highest rates in individuals over the age of 55 years, making it a clear age-related disease… [and] UV-induced carcinogenesis and photo aging along with natural protective mechanisms that reduce the amount of “realized” solar radiation dose and UV-induced injury.” (Source).
Wrinkles are induced by photoaging. The Skin Cancer Foundation defines photoaging:
UVB rays are shorter than UVA rays, and are the main culprit behind sunburn. But it is the UVA rays, with their longer wavelength, that are responsible for much of the damage we associate with photoaging. UVA rays penetrate deep into the dermis, where they damage the collagen fibers. This damage causes increased production of abnormal elastin. The unusual amounts of elastin result in the production of enzymes called metalloproteinases. These enzymes, which rebuild damaged collagen, often malfunction and degrade the collagen, resulting in incorrectly rebuilt skin. As this process is repeated with daily UVA exposure, the incorrectly rebuilt skin forms wrinkles, and the depleted collagen results in leathery skin. Repeated sun exposure can also cause what are commonly called age spots, or liver spots. They don’t have anything to do with your liver, but have everything to do with sun. An ‘age spot’ is actually a solar lentigo – a small bit of pigmentation caused by sun exposure. Age spots are usually found on the hands, arms, and face, and on the back in men.
The only way to prevent photoaging is to protect the skin from UVR. Sunscreen, protective clothing and avoidance will keep people looking young and beautiful.
Hydration Is Key For Your Skin
Maintaining enough water in your body and keeping your skin hydrated can help to prevent wrinkles. Hydration helps to keep the skin’s elasticity; it is that elasticity which helps to keep wrinkles at bay. This requires a combination of drinking enough water, eating enough foods with water in them, and using products that maintain the hydration of the skin. A fantastic article on this appeared in Harper’s Bazaar a couple of years ago that outlined some of the best tips out there and explained the intersection between hydration and beautiful, young-looking skin:
When skin is dehydrated it lacks elasticity, fine lines and under eye circles often appear more pronounced and skin tends to look flat. Whereas hydrated skin just glows, looking more plump, calmer and reflects light better hence the term ‘glowing skin’.”
If skin is naturally dry and sensitive (not just dehydrated), it is particularly important to try and keep it as hydrated as possible, Dr Hextall explains. “When skin is inflamed, has eczema or psoriasis, transepidermal water loss is increased. For those with very severe and widespread inflammatory skin conditions, water loss is a real issue and fluid intake should be carefully monitored.” So is it a case of the more H2o, the more glow? Well, you also need the right skincare. “The key to keeping skin hydrated is about ensuring we have adequate fluids while minimising water loss,” the skin doctor explains.
“So in winter months when central heating plays havoc with skin leaving it red and chapped, it is important to apply richer moisturisers that will protect the skin barrier, as well as making sure cleansers are gentle so to not unbalance the skin leading to further water loss…”
Consuming too many dehydrating fluids, like coffee and alcohol, can have a negative effect on your skin for this very reason. Drinks loaded with sugar and caffeine will, as well. Fruit juices with vitamin-C and other antioxidants are a much better bet to consume, as those antioxidants work to help revitalize the skin cells and contribute to a healthy glow.
Get Your Beauty Rest
There is a reason it is called beauty sleep, but it isn’t only sleep that you need – it is rest and relaxation. Stress and lack of sleep contribute to premature aging, which takes away from beauty.
Back in 2013, the beauty media reported heavily on a 2012 study that found a strong correlation between stress and aging. The Huffington Post illustrated this point, and drew on additional studies, to present a warning:
A 2012 study, published in the journal PLoS ONE, found that work-related exhaustion can have a harmful effect on critical DNA in the cells. Researchers measured the length of DNA sections called telomeres, and found that individuals with the most job stress had the shortest telomeres — and when telomeres become too short, the cells can die or become damaged. Those who did not experience work exhaustion had longer telomeres. Telomere shortening has been linked to Parkinson’s, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer, the study notes.
“We know that the telomeres [wear down] over time, but possibly anxiety and stress may expedite that,” says Diller. “That is the closest we’ve gotten to understanding the relationship between stress and how our body may age faster.” [Additionally] UC San Francisco research found that the mere anticipation of stress can increase an individual’s risk of age-related disorders.
Stress is a frequent trigger of insomnia. Insomnia and other sleep disorders, as well as just skimping on sleep, can cause wrinkles, skin discoloration and weight gain. These are major factors when people are trying to maintain, or achieve, beauty and typically they are within our control, just as hydration and UVR avoidance are. And while there are hundreds of other things we can do to increase and enhance beauty, these are still the most important lifestyle factors.