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One of the things we face when aging is the appearance of wrinkles. Smooth, firm, and unblemished skin (for the most part) is a sign of youth and vitality – which explains why a lot of men and women are willing to go to great lengths to improve their complexion, even to the extent of medical procedures like botox and “face-lifts” to keep looking young. But how exactly does our skin “wrinkle”?
Your Skin’s Battle Against Time: Over time, the cells and tissues of the body begin to wear and tear, a concept that makes up the foundation of the popular “wear and tear” theory. According to Dr. August Weismann, wear and tear in the body happens like it does with physical objects that break from overuse. As a person ages, our skin becomes less elastic and fat loss occurs beneath it – this causes wrinkles or folds to appear, and not just in the face. Coupled with a decreased ability to retain moisture, the skin takes on an aged or wrinkled appearance. 
Other factors that affect skin health: We can’t all point the finger at our age. How would you then explain why some teenagers look older than people in their 30s? This is where extraneous factors come into play – they are mainly categorized into intrinsic and extrinsic factors. The former refers to genetics and comorbidities (like hypertension and diabetes). The latter refers to modifiable risk factors – lifestyle choices to be precise. While intrinsic factors are near impossible to battle, extrinsic factors come down to a matter of discipline and choice.
5 Avoidable Causes Of Wrinkles
#1 – Exposure to the sun
While the sun has been beating down on us for thousands of years, it has only been in the recent years that people have been taking the time to protect their skin from harmful UV rays. Different studies have shown how the sun’s UV rays speed the aging of the skin and cause it damage.
– Gilchrest, et. al. in 1979 found that skin chronically exposed to the sun had twice as much dopa-positive melanocytes (skin cells) which decline in a similar rate to aging skin. 
– A study on UV exposure therapy in 2015 by Wang, et. al. found that repeated UV exposure damaged collagen fibers in skin. This affects the skin’s elasticity, as well as causing it to darken. 
– Vierkotter, A. & Kruttmann, J. studied sun exposure and skin aging supported the conclusion by Wang, et. al. (2015) the UV rays damaged collagen fibers in the skin. However, they also suggested that UV rays could also damage the mitochondria (the part of the cell that supplies it with energy) by overworking it. Similarly, they could also increase protein oxidation in the skin, causing loss of protein structure and leading to wrinkling or sagging. 
– Vandiver, et. al. published a study in 2015 linking sun-exposure and cancer of the colon. They found that sun exposure changed DNA in the skin (DNA methylation), forming a sequence of genome blocks similar to the sequence found in squamous cell carcinoma and colon cancer. 
While many opt for sunscreen, it has come under controversy over the ingredients. There is nothing that beats shade – from a parasol, hat and long, loose clothing.
#2 – Smoking
Smoking has been associated with numerous diseases that affect our lungs – from an increased risk for influenza to lung cancer. However, this vice also has drastic effects on our skin as well.
– According to Sook, et. al. in 2002, smoking was strongly associated with premature facial wrinkling. The risk for premature skin aging is three times as high for smokers, compared to non-smokers. Microscopic superficial wrinkling was seen in the youngest age group of smokers (20 to 29 years old). 
– A Polish article published in 2012 reported that the skin condition of chronic smokers at 40 years old strongly resembled the skin condition of non-smoking adults aged 70 years old. This damage and premature aging are attributed to tobacco smoke and nicotine, the major components of a cigarette. 
– Telomeres are part of human DNA whose shortening is negatively associated with skin aging. Smoking has been found to lengthen telomeres, showing how this vice is contributing to skin aging and wrinkling on a genetic level. 
#3 – Alcohol Intake
Similar to smoking, alcohol intake also affects skin aging on a cellular level. A study found that drinking ethanol (“drinking alcohol”) contributed to cellular aging by affecting or altering mitochondrial DNA in humans. Through this, cells (and therefore our skin!) age faster – becoming more prone to wear and tear over a shorter period of time. 
#4 – Sedentary Lifestyle
An active lifestyle that involves regular exercise is a great deterrent to chronic diseases that affect the cardiovascular and metabolic systems (among others) – but it can also be a way to keep our skin healthy. Regular exercise promotes adequate blood flow to the skin, and along with it a steady supply of oxygen and nutrients, slowing its aging. This is the vascular effect of exercise which in turn promote skin health. 
#5 – Unhealthy Diet
When we choose unhealthy food to include in our diet, we not only increase our risk for chronic disease but also increase our risk for premature skin aging. Physically, the skin is the great marker an underlying condition – if your skin isn’t looking good, it may have something to do with the food you are eating. A diet rich in vitamins, carotenoids, tocopherols (a.k.a. vitamin E), flavonoids, and different plant extracts has been proven to promote youthful and healthy looking skin. These substances have strong antioxidant properties that cleanse the skin from impurities. 
10 Best Home Remedies for Great Skin Health
1. Drink a lot of water! The best way to maintain good elasticity of the skin is to keep it well-hydrated. Without enough water, skin becomes dry and less elastic (poor turgor). Dry skin is easily damaged and injured.
2. Vitamins A, C, and E are all great skin supplements. Vitamin C boosts the immune system while A and E have antioxidant properties that reduce stress on skin cells, slowing the aging process. 
3. Beta-carotene and lycopene from carrots and tomatoes have also been found to protect the skin from UV-related damage (sun damage), as well as reducing the skin for cancer. 
4. Moisturizing is the most important step in skin care, next to cleansing. After you cleanse your face, don’t forget to use moisturizer to rehydrate your skin. There are different moisturizers for different types of skin, so forget the idea that people with oily skin shouldn’t moisturize – everybody should do it! Moisturizer returns hydration to the skin which has been exposed to the sun and other irritants in the environment, so it’s best to apply it before bed after cleansing.
5. Exfoliating is a way to get rid of dry skin cells that build up on top of our skin, giving it a dry (sometimes scaly) appearances. Two to three times a week is good enough to keep our skin looking healthy. Too much exfoliating can cause excessive dryness and can even harm the skin. Instead of heading to the store for a commercial exfoliant, you can use a salt or sugar scrub with honey for an all-natural exfoliator.
6. Citrus masks are very popular – mixing your favorite moisturizer with citrus extracts from oranges or lemons can be great to detoxify the skin. You can even make this type of mask in large batches and have a face mask party!
7. Chocolate has gained the bad reputation of being “bad” for the skin. In reality, cocoa has been discovered to have a lot of polyphenol compounds, which promote skin health through detoxification. A study found that cocoa’s anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties make it an excellent choice for boosting skin health. 
8. Slow down with cleansing. While cleansing helps get rid of dirt and excess oil in the skin, it can also make the skin too dry by getting rid of the skin’s natural moisturizers. Washing your face twice a day is good enough to keep skin adequately clean.
9. Facial massages are great to promote circulation in the skin. Like exercise, facial massages help bring more oxygen and nutrients to the skin, making it appear glowing and healthy.
10. Drinking alcohol should be done in moderation, but there are benefits to drinking red wine in moderation. Red wine is rich in flavonoids which detoxify the skin.
All these tips come down to one thing – live a healthy lifestyle! The best ways to keep your skin looking young and healthy is to have a healthy diet, regular exercise, and avoid vices.
 Jin, K. (2010). Modern Biological Theories of Aging. https://ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2995895/
 Gilchrest, B., et. al. (1979). Effects of Aging and Chronic Sun Exposure on Melanocytes in Human Skin. https://sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022202X15455617/
 Wang, F., et. al. (2015). Dermal damage promoted by repeated low-level UVA1 exposure despite tanning response in human skin. https://ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4167395/
 Vierkotter, A. & Krutmann, J. (2012). Environmental influences on skin aging and ethnic-specific manifestations. https://ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3583881/
 Vandiver, A., et. al. (2015). Age and sun exposure-related widespread genomic blocks of hypomethylation in nonmalignant skin. https://ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4423110/
 Sook, J., et. al. (2002). Cigarette smoking associated with premature facial wrinkling: image analysis of facial skin replicas. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1046/j.1365-4362.2002.01352.x/abstract/
 Urbanska, M., Nowak, G., & Florek, E. (2012). Cigarette smoking and its influence of skin aging. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23421102/
 Lofti, R., et. al. (2014). Effects of smoking on human telomerase reverse transcriptase expression in the skin.
 von Wurmb-Schwark, N., et. al. (2008). The effect of chronic alcohol consumption on mitochondrial DNA mutagenesis in human blood. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17767940/
 Tew, G., Saxon, J., & Hodges, G. (2012). Exercise training and the control of skin blood flow in older adults.
 Simmons, G., et. al. (2011). Changes in the control of skin blood flow with exercise training: where do cutaneous vascular adaptations fit in? https://ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3754812/
 Schagen, S., et. al. (2012). Discovering the link between nutrition and skin aging. https://ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3583891/
 Scapagnini, G., et. al. (2014). Cocoa Bioactive Compounds: Significance and Potential for the Maintenance of Skin Health. https://ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4145303/
Infographic Image Sources:
Water – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Stilles_Mineralwasser.jpg
Fruits – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Culinary_fruits_front_view.jpg
Moisturizer – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:White_Petrolatum1.jpg
Exfoliation Tools – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Exfoliation_tools.jpeg
Facial Mask – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Facial_mask.jpg
Cocoa – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Becher_Kakao_mit_Sahneh%C3%A4ubchen.JPG
Biore – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Biore_moisture.JPG
Facial Massage – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Patty_mooney_self_massage_face.jpg
Red Wine – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Red_Wine_Glass.jpg
Girl with Weights – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Lyen_wong_wiki.jpg
Female Face – © fotolia.com/id/17913811 (under license)
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Take the quiz above and see if you got the correct answer!
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