Wrinkles aren’t always a bad thing.
Sure, they’re a sign of aging, but they’re completely natural—nobody gets through life without picking up a few of them.
Still, you probably want to avoid wrinkles if at all possible, and that’s totally understandable. Here are a few scientific ways to keep your skin looking young and healthy for as long as possible.
1. Use proper protection when heading out into the sun.
Studies show that SPF—the stuff in sunscreen that prevents sunburns— can also prevent wrinkles. There’s a catch, though: You have to use it every day.
Provided that you’re willing to make that commitment, you can benefit from about 24 percent less “skin aging,” according to a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
2. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.
Without a proper amount of water, your body simply can’t repair damage to skin cells. Make sure you’re drinking enough water, and during dryer months, use lotions to protect your skin.
The University of Wisconsin recommends applying a hydrating moisturizer “within two minutes of leaving the bath or shower.” This is important because the skin is still porous after you’ve bathed, and hydration is essential at this stage. Look for moisturizers that contain hyaluronic acid, which holds 1,000 times its own weight in water.
3. Get enough sleep.
This is actually pretty crucial since your body produces a hormone called HCH during deep sleep. That hormone helps your skin recover from the damage it takes on over the course of each day.
Make sure that you’re getting sufficient rest, and make sure that you’re maximizing the benefits of deep sleep. That means avoiding bright LCD screens, caffeine, and other mood-altering substances right before your bedtime.
Exfoliating feels great, and some studies show that by removing old skin cells, you can prompt new skin cells to grow. That creates an anti-aging effect.
Look for exfoliants with alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), which loosen the substances that hold skin cells together, allowing them to wash away easily. Mechanical exfoliants—which don’t use chemicals to take effect—can also be useful, although take care not to damage underlying skin.
5. Limit stress.
Wrinkles are caused by weakened collagen and elastin fibers in your skin. Put your skin through a more rigorous daily grind, and you’ll develop more wrinkles, period.
Stress releases cortisol, adrenaline, and other chemicals into your body, and these substances can inhibit circulation. When you deal with stress constantly, your body can’t properly send resources to the organs that need them the most—and that includes your skin.
Meditation and other techniques can be used to limit stress, improving your response (and preventing your skin cells from aging prematurely).
Ultimately, the best way to reduce the appearance of wrinkles is to stop them from developing in the first place.
As a last resort, however, you can seek medical treatment. Recent breakthroughs have identified some of the cells that cause permanent wrinkles to develop; the cells are called apidocytes, and scientists believe that they’ll be able to eventually replenish these cells to improve skin functionality.
We’ll have to wait for these treatments to come out, but in the meantime, laser treatments are totally an option. If you’re really concerned about wrinkles, first try some basic lifestyle changes, but then talk to your doctor.