Nobody likes to think about wrinkles and signs of aging. However, as much as we hate it, it will happen and looking young forever is not something that actually happens in real life. We are all going to experience the signs of aging as the years go by. But, because of the different styles of living, climate conditions and high level of stress in modern life, many people suffer from premature skin aging.

Premature aging happens when your skin looks older for your age. Fine lines, wrinkles and age spots may start appearing on your face even if you’re still on your 30s and above. According to many dermatologists, the first sign of premature aging is the noticeable loss of glowing complexion. This may get accompany with dark circles, fine lines, excessive dryness and, lack of elasticity.

There are many reasons why many people suffer from premature skin aging: poor diet, lack of sleep and rest and everyday stress. But, two of the biggest uncontrollable factors that contribute to premature skin aging are the sun and pollution.

The sun is one of the biggest factors which affects the skin. According to Doris Day, M.D., clinical associate professor of dermatology at New York University Langone Medical Center, UV rays accelerate aging by damaging the cell DNA. This leads to the inability of cells to divide and differentiate so result in line and wrinkles. The other harmful effect of UV rays on the skin is the creation of sunspots. The natural skin response to UV rays is the production of melanin or pigment to protect the cell DNA. Prolonged sun exposure without wearing a sunscreen leads to uneven skin tone, sun spots, and pigmentation that may eventually cause skin cancer.

Many studies and tests have proven that when pollution comes into contact with the skin, it doesn’t just sit on the surface unlike what many would imagine. Instead, these tiny particles, which are not visible to the naked eye, are absorbed by the pores, infiltrating to deeper layers of the epidermis. They would later clog the skin pores, cause inflammation, dehydration and a cellular-level reaction that makes the skin lose its elasticity and firmness.

“Pollution, breaks down collagen and the lipid layer in the skin, which impairs skin barrier functions,” says Zoe Draelos, M.D., consulting professor of dermatology at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, and author of the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology article “Aging in a Polluted World.”

So, how can you avoid looking older than you really are? Here are some ways you can take care of your skin better starting today:

  • Protect your skin from the sun every day

Whether spending a day at the beach or running around, sun protection is essential. You can protect your skin by seeking shade, covering up with clothing, wearing a hat with a brim and using sunscreen. your Sunscreen should be SPF 30 (or higher), and water-resistant. You should apply sunscreen every day to all skin that is not covered by clothing and needs to be reapplied every 2 hours. It is best to avoid the sun between 10 am to 3 pm when it is the hottest and the rays are the strongest.

  • Cleanse your skin regularly and properly

It is important to wash your face twice a day in the morning and nights before going to bed. As dirt can accumulate faster when the environment is moist, so it is important to clean your face after working out or doing sweat-provoking activities as well.

  • Cleanse your skin gently

Avoid stretching your skin while putting moisturisers, and scrubbing your face harshly when using your exfoliators and cleansers. Pulling your skin may result to sagging and irritating your skin that accelerates skin aging. Gentle washing helps to remove pollution, makeup, and other substances without irritating your skin.

  • Choose your skin products

Every person has a different skin type, which needs a specific range of products that caters to their distinct needs. Stop using products just because they are in trend, or because your favorite celebrity endorses it. Know what is your skin type and get a consult from an expert to help you choose the best skin care products that work for you. At the same time, stop using skin care products that sting or burn. When your skin burns or stings, it means your skin is irritated. Irritating your skin can make it look older.

  • Have a suitable treatment plan

Skin treatments are like supplements for the skin preventing premature ageing. A suitable treatment plan is designed based on your skin type and conditions which can be done by a professional skin therapist. Treatments retrain and feed the skin to improve cellular functioning and restoring a healthy, youthful skin.

  • Take care of your neck, shoulders, and hands too

Premature skin aging is not only applicable to the face, it can happen to your neck, shoulders, and hands too. The skin on those body areas are thin and sensitive, so it is important to take care of them too. Use your skincare products on your neck and décolletage and moisturise your shoulders and hands before sleep. Don’t forget using a sunscreen on these areas.

  • Avoid touching your face

Make it a habit and avoid touching your face. Keep your hands away from your face and neck to avoid acne and premature aging. Don’t rub your eyes and don’t scratch your nose. The skin around your eyes is very delicate and when you don’t touch it you ward off the signs of aging. When applying your eye cream, avoid rubbing it as well.

  • Avoid repetitive facial expressions.

Moving the facial muscles is good once in awhile, but when you make a facial expression, it can result in premature skin aging, manifested by the fine lines and wrinkles. Stop squinting! Wearing sunglasses can help reduce lines caused by squinting.

  • Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet

Since the skin is the reflection of what you do to your body, it is important you eat a healthy diet to have a radiant, young-looking skin. Research shows that fresh fruits and vegetables have a high amount of antioxidant that can combat free radicals (cell-destroying molecules) in our cells. As a result, may help prevent premature skin aging. Study on carbohydrates and sugar also shows that they can accelerate aging by attaching to the skin proteins such as collagen and elastin and cause a permanent damage to them.

  • Drink more water and less alcohol

Water makes the skin more elastic and radiant, while alcohol dehydrates the skin and make it look dry and dull. As 64% of our skin is water, drinking plenty of water improves skin cell functions and plumps the skin so improve the appearance of fine line and wrinkles.

Some controversial studies claim that wine is a good alternative to other alcohols because of its anti-oxidants (resvertrol) which are good to keep the skin healthy.

  • Exercise more

Studies show that moderate exercise can improve circulation and boost the immune system. This provides more oxygen and nutrients to the cells and eliminates the wastes more quickly which gives the skin a more-youthful appearance.