Whether you’re 35 and just beginning to see the first signs of aging, or 55 with skin that isn’t exactly keeping your birthday a secret, seeking ways to reduce wrinkles is probably on your agenda.
At the same time, experts say, many of us are losing the wrinkle battle, watching helplessly as the glow of youth goes on the dimmer switch.
“Many women as well as men believe that aging skin is inevitable, but with the information and technologies we have today, you really can look as young as you feel,” says Robin Ashinoff, MD, a dermatologist at the Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey.
To help put you on the right path, we asked Ashinoff and several other experts what really works to reduce wrinkles. What follows are 23 ways experts say you can make a difference. While some require a visit to the dermatologist, many are things you can do on your own.
How to Reduce Wrinkles: What You Can Do
1.Avoid the sun.
It’s the No. 1 cause of wrinkles, with dozens of studies documenting the impact. In one study that looked at identical twins, New York plastic surgeon Darrick Antell, MD, found sun exposure was even more important than heredity. Siblings who limited sun time had fewer wrinkles and looked younger overall than their sun-worshiping twins.
If you must go out in the sun, the American Academy of Dermatology says, wear sunscreen! It will protect you from skin cancer, and help prevent wrinkles at the same time.
3. Don’t smoke.
Some of the research is still controversial, but more and more studies are confirming that cigarette smoke ages skin — mostly by releasing an enzyme that breaks down collagen and elastin, important components of the skin. Sibling studies done at the Twin Research Unit at St. Thomas Hospital in London found the brother or sister who smoked tended to have skin that was more wrinkled and up to 40% thinner than the non-smoker.
4. Get adequate sleep.
Yale dermatologist Nicholas Perricone, MD, says that when you don’t get enough sleep, the body produces excess cortisol, a hormone that breaks down skin cells. Get enough rest, Perricone says, and you’ll produce more HGH (human growth hormone), which helps skin remain thick, more “elastic,” and less likely to wrinkle.
5. Sleep on your back.
The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) cautions that sleeping in certain positions night after night leads to “sleep lines — wrinkles that become etched into the surface of the skin and don’t disappear once you’re up. Sleeping on your side increases wrinkles on cheeks and chin, while sleeping face-down gives you a furrowed brow. To reduce wrinkle formation, the AAD says, sleep on your back.
6. Don’t squint — get reading glasses!
The AAD says any repetitive facial movement — like squinting — overworks facial muscles, forming a groove beneath the skin’s surface. This groove eventually becomes a wrinkle. Also important: Wear sunglasses. It will protect skin around the eyes from sun damage — and further keep you from squinting.
7. Eat more fish — particularly salmon.
Not only is salmon (along with other cold-water fish) a great source of protein — one of the building blocks of great skin — it’s also an awesome source of an essential fatty acid known as omega-3. Perricone tells us that essential fatty acids help nourish skin and keep it plump and youthful, helping to reduce wrinkles.
8. Eat more soy.
So far, most of the proof has come from animal studies, but research does show certain properties of soy may help protect or heal some of the sun’s photoaging damage. In one recent human study, published in the European Journal of Nutrition, researchers reported that a soy-based supplement (other ingredients included fish protein and extracts from white tea, grapeseed, and tomato, as well as several vitamins) improved skin’s structure and firmness after just six months of use.