5 Things That Prematurely Age Your Skin and How To Avoid Them

The Early Damage

When we’re young the last thing we think about is aging skin: wrinkles, sun damage, laxity and brown spots.

As a teen growing up on the east coast, one of my summer pastimes included my friends and I covering ourselves in iodine infused baby oil and climbing out my bathroom window to sun bathe on the hot, black roof of our screen porch to get that much closer to the sun! Sometimes we’d use a metallic reflective blanket that would intensify the UV rays. Not a good idea for anyone, let alone me (a Fitzpatrick 2, aka: blonde with green eyes and light skin that burns easily and tans rarely).

Through my teens I suffered through more sunburns than I’d like to remember. Eventually, I learned.

Fast forward to today… now as a woman in her 50s and a holistic esthetician, protecting my skin is a high priority, while taking extra (safe and non-inflammatory) measures to correct the damage from my early years.

What to do? First thing, knowledge. We DO better when we KNOW better, right? Let’s take a closer look at the 5 biggest threats to early skin aging, followed with actionable steps to help you avoid them.

5 Top Causes of Premature Skin Aging and How To Avoid Them

1. Blue light exposure

We’re exposed to blue light whenever we’re in front of our computer, looking at our phone and when using indoor lights. Blue light not only ages our skin, it can damage our eyes. Blue light breaks down collagen while increasing photo-aging, dark spots, fine lines, wrinkles and loose skin. 

What you can do:

  • Every morning apply a Vitamin C serum after cleansing your face. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that combats oxidative stress while protecting our skin
  • Use a screen protector with blue light protection to reduce harmful rays from digital devices
  • Switch the setting on your screens to night mode to enable yellow light and disable blue light
  • Use sunscreen EVERY day, even indoors, even when it’s cloudy
  • Invest in and wear UV and blue light protective eyewear to protect your eyes

2. Poor sleep habits

Sleep is the time our body enters into the healing parasympathetic phase of renewal. When we have restless nights or limit our sleep, our health and our skin pays the price. Quality sleep is critical in supporting beautiful, healthy skin, as well as overall health. When you don’t sleep enough, cortisol, the stress hormone, is released in your body, which can cause inflammation, an increase in skin conditions and premature aging.

woman sleeping soundly

What you can do:

  • Aim for 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night
  • Give yourself permission to sleep in over the weekend or days that you don’t have many obligations
  • Consider adding a “restful ritual” one hour before bedtime. An evening routine will set the tone for a restful night of sleep. Some steps to consider adding as you wind down for bed might be to:
    • dimming the lights
    • soften the sounds in the house
    • light a candle, burning incense or palo santo
    • limit social media, news and TV
    • diffuse a calming essential oil
    • enjoying a cup of herbal tea

3. Sun exposure

Sun exposure is the number one contributor to damage to our skin and premature aging. About 80% of all signs of aging are due to environmental factors, to which sun exposure is the main culprit.

What you can do:

  • Wear an SPF every day. Choose reef safe, mineral-based sunscreens to guard against premature aging. My personal favorites are Suntegrity’s 5 in 1 Tinted Sunscreen Moisturizer and Éminence Organics Sun Defense Minerals. I apply Suntegrity’s 5 in 1 Tinted Sunscreen and allow it to absorb for about a minute, top it off with a light dusting of Eminence’s Sun Defense Minerals, then lightly spritz on Eminence’s Stone Crop Hydrating Mist to set the minerals and provide a hydrated, glowy finish.
  • If outside or at the beach, re-apply sunscreen every 2 hours at a minimum
  • Wear sun-protective clothing and a wide-brimmed hat during peak UV hours
  • Use an umbrella at the beach to protect from UV radiation

4. A diet high in sugar

Eating a diet high in sugar causes blood sugar levels to rise, which increases inflammation and can cause acne. However, one of the biggest effects it has on the skin is the early aging it causes. Sugar breaks down collagen and elastin, skin structure and firmness. A high sugar diet will cause your skin to look wrinkled, saggy, dry and dull and quickly lead to premature aging.

What you can do:

  • Limit sugar intake to about 6 teaspoons (24 grams) per day
  • Limit prepared meals, as they often contain a lot of sugars
  • Eat a diet focused around natural foods
  • When shopping for food, stay at the perimeter of the store, as interior shelves have the most processed and sugary foods.
  • Reduce sugary drinks and make a switch to diluted juices, water and herbal teas

5. Inconsistent cleansing

Going to bed without thoroughly cleansing your face contributes to congested pores and leads to serious premature aging. During the day your skin is bombarded with pollution and free radicals. A free radical is defined as a chemical species possessing an unpaired electron or a fragment of a molecule. Free radicals are induced through smoke, smog, household cleaners and pollution, contributing to the breakdown of collagen, lines, wrinkles and DNA damage. Additionally, makeup holds on to free radicals, so if you’re not washing your face, free radicals are attacking your skin all night long while you sleep. Also, when you don’t wash your face, you’re not applying beneficial skincare products. It’s a double whammy!

woman washing her face

What you can do:

  • Wash your face EVERY NIGHT, thoroughly massaging your cleanser into your skin for 1 to 2 minutes. My evening ritual is one of my favorite skincare practices. I remove any makeup and give myself a nurturing facial massage with a pump of Eminence Organics gluten-free and vegan Stone Crop Cleansing Oil. My absolute favorite! Its lightweight sunflower and jojoba oils soothe and protect the skin, stone crop deeply hydrates and brightens, and microgreens detoxify and reduce signs of aging. After using the Stone Crop Cleansing Oil, all makeup (even mascara) is removed and my skin feels dewy, soft and supple.
  • Instead of considering your evening routine to be a task, change the narrative. Consider it to be a nurturing and supportive self care ritual. Take your time. Breathe deeply. Repeat a positive mantra in your head as you cleanse, like “My skin is beautiful. Nurturing and caring for my skin centers me and grounds me. Thank you for protecting me.”
  • After cleansing, reach for potent skin care products that feed your skin, increase hydration, correct damage and support healthy, glowing skin. Here’s a nurturing, organic, age corrective routine I recommend:
    1. Begin with a cleansing massage using a pump of Eminence’s Stone Crop Cleansing Oil.
    2. Next, apply a spritz of toner, like the collagen boosting Neroli Age Corrective Hydrating Mist with natural retinol alternative for boosted hydration, nutrition and repair.
    3. Follow with a serum. Massage in a couple drops of Marine Flower Peptide Serum with potent plant peptides and botanicals that lessen fine lines and wrinkles.
    4. Finish off with a pump of the award winning Marine Flower Peptide Concentrate. This lightweight fluid with Smart Collagen+ Complex is an all-star in rejuvenating and firming the skin and offering long lasting hydration. This simple 4-step system is a game changer in creating visibly smoother, more radiant skin.

Knowing the causes of premature aging is one thing, however it’s taking action that is key to supporting and maintaining glowing and healthy skin.

© pamela sander 2024, skin & soul holistic wellness