Article at a Glance
- Keeping your skin looking young can involve both preventing and reversing aging.
- Testosterone therapy may boost your lean muscle mass.
- Melatonin doesn’t only help with good sleep, but it also is useful for protecting the skin from aging.
It’s normal at a certain age to want to look younger. After all, a person’s physical appearance doesn’t always equate with their “subjective” age—the age they feel [R]. Luckily, to keep looking young you don’t have to resort to plastic surgery, as we have found some ways to look younger without invasive procedures.
1. Wear Sunscreen
Many factors, both intrinsic and extrinsic, lead to skin aging. They can include sun damage, environmental hazards, genetics, and lifestyle choices, among many others [R][R][R]. Chief among them, however, is sun damage, which can cause up to 80% of skin aging [R].
Exposure to sunlight in moderate quantities is great for your health: It helps boost mood and prevent depression, and it’s necessary for the production of vitamin D. However, too much exposure to UV rays in sunlight prematurely ages skin, leading to crow’s feet, wrinkles, and potentially more dangerous problems like skin cancer.
Skin aging can also lead to various effects like wrinkles, fine lines, blemishes, brown age spots, and discoloration.
Protect yourself from those UV rays with daily application of a sunscreen with a high Sun Protection Factor (SPF). A higher SPF gives better protection—SPF 50, for example, means getting a sunburn will take 50 times as long as without it.
In addition to SPF, look for sunscreens that contain antioxidants. A sunscreen with antioxidants can improve the protection sunscreen provides and may help to scrub free radicals from the skin [R].
2. Use Emollients
Emollients can reduce the effects of aging on the skin by improving the skin’s protective barrier while moisturizing skin and reducing cracking, dryness, and inflammation [R]. Emollients are included in many products, like creams, lotions, or ointments, and are often combined with other products.
Emollients differ from moisturizers in that they are oils that form a protective film on your skin. This film helps to keep in moisture and keeps your skin looking fresh. Emollients may be combined with water and other products or be in a more pure form, like ointments.
Emollients are available over the counter and are usually quite affordable. They’re best applied when you come out of the shower as that’s when your skin is the moistest.
3. Use Anti-Aging Serums
There are numerous anti-aging serums on the market, some of which are proven to help fight the effects of skin aging.
Retinol, a component of vitamin A, is the most widely used anti-aging treatment. Studies show that retinol helps reduce the appearance of fine wrinkles like those found in crow’s feet [R]. Similarly, Tretinoin, which is closely related to retinol, helps improve the production and maintenance of collagen in the skin and can repair sun-damaged skin [R].
Vitamins C, E, and B3 in topical form are also useful in combating skin aging. As antioxidants, they protect skin from free radical damage. Additionally, they increase and stabilize collagen production. Vitamin C is effective in concentrations of 5-15% and vitamin E from 20%. Vitamins C and E work best when combined rather than used separately [R].
Ferulic acid can be a worthwhile addition to a skincare repertoire. Many serums combine ferulic acid with vitamins C and E. It’s often sold as an eye cream to repair fine lines. This combination is highly effective: When added to C and E, ferulic acid gives an eight-fold increase in protection against sun damage while regenerating damaged skin [R].
Vitamin B3, also known as niacinamide, is responsible for regulating cell regeneration and metabolism. When it’s applied topically, it helps smooth skin while reducing pigmentation and wrinkles due to aging [R][R].
4. Watch Out for Pollution
Air pollution is widely known to be harmful to organs like the lungs, but the evidence is mounting that it is also harmful to the skin. Pollution can harm the skin by [R]:
- Creating free radicals
- Changing the skin’s bacteria
- Increasing inflammation
- Weakening the skin barrier
Generally, larger particles in the air sit on the surface of your skin and can cause inflammation. Smaller particles can penetrate the skin and damage collagen, which is largely responsible for your skin remaining young-looking.
If you live in a polluted area, a deep wash every other day can help protect your skin from pollution. Use a mild face wash to get dirt off the surface and then a toner or face oil help repair damaged skin [R][R][R].
Additionally, wearing sunscreen daily and using topical antioxidants can create a barrier between your skin and pollutants.
5. Mind Your Facial Hair
To shave or not to shave? Research disagrees significantly on the effect of beards on one’s appearance, but generally, men with full beards are viewed as older, more aggressive, and more masculine [R]. If you want to look younger, a clean-shaven look may help. However, a beard may also cover up skin that has loosened due to aging, so the decision of whether to grow a beard is a very personal one.
Hair grows other places besides on the chin and neck, however, and often in unwanted ways. Taming nose hair, ear hair, and unruly eyebrows is another easy route to looking younger.
6. Consider Testosterone Replacement Therapy
After age 30, people lose 3-8% of their muscle mass per decade, which explains why greater muscle mass is often associated with a more youthful appearance [R].
Studies show that testosterone replacement therapy significantly increases strength in men [R]. Notably, the effects of testosterone replacement therapy were more pronounced when it was administered intramuscularly [R].
To regain a more youthful look, men could consider getting their testosterone levels checked and consulting a doctor about testosterone replacement therapy. Testosterone therapy may be associated with certain health risks, so seek medical advice before beginning any treatment [R].
7. Incorporate Melatonin Into Your Routine
Melatonin is widely taken for sleep—more than 3 million Americans regularly use it [R]. It may indeed be useful for sleep and thus help with an improved appearance. Melatonin is also a strong antioxidant and is useful as a topical agent for reducing sun damage.
Melatonin Supplements and Sleep
Puffy, droopy eyelids and dark circles are classic signs of sleep deprivation. People react strongly to them: In a study, participants who did not get enough sleep were rated as less attractive, less healthy, and less intelligent than those who’d had eight hours of sleep [R].
Declining quality of sleep, especially deep sleep, is associated with aging. This decline may be due to a decline in the amount of melatonin produced by the body as it ages.
Melatonin plays a multifactorial role in the body, including a role in sleep regulation [R]. Melatonin can be useful for treating certain sleep conditions and disorders including jet lag, and is known to be safe for short-term use.
Melatonin supplements are widely available over the counter and in grocery stores. However, it’s best to talk to your doctor before beginning any supplementation.
Melatonin as a Topical Antioxidant
Melatonin is a powerful antioxidant and may be valuable in the fight against visible aging. Research indicates that it prevents DNA and mitochondrial damage done by the sun [R].
A study showed that topical application of melatonin 15 minutes before exposure to sunlight significantly decreased sun damage to skin [R]. In one study, melatonin even showed greater antioxidant power than vitamin C [R].
Importantly, the topical application of melatonin showed significant protection benefits to skin while orally administered melatonin did not.
The Bottom Line
While you have to get older, you don’t have to look it. Taking care of your skin and body by following the above steps can help keep you looking younger far into your not-so-young years.
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