MomsGetReal Guest Contributor Karrie Hadfield

Like it or not, we are all getting older, and as we age, so does our skin. While we can’t turn back the clock and restore our skin to what is was in our early twenties, there are a number of steps we can take now to prevent damage and to minimize its effects.

Be sun smart.  The overwhelming majority of changes seen on the skin as we age are caused by a lifetime of sun exposure.  To minimize the sun’s damage to your skin, avoid the sun during its highest intensity.  Wear protective clothing, including long pants, shirts with sleeves, and hats that keep the sun off your face, neck, and ears.  Wear sunscreen every day, all year.  Be sure to choose a broad spectrum sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 15.  Apply at least 20 minutes prior to going outside, and reapply every two hours, more frequently if you are in the water.

Avoid cigarette smoke and limit alcohol consumption.  Exposure to cigarette smoke   educes the skin’s natural elasticity by damaging the collagen, leading to wrinkles.  Smoking also damages the tiny blood vessels in the skin, called micro capillaries, which inhibits the skin from properly absorbing oxygen and nutrients.  Alcohol consumption can dehydrate you, making your skin look tired.  If you’re going to drink, do so in moderation and be sure to add in some non-alcoholic, hydrating, beverages.

Eat well and exercise.  An overall healthy lifestyle helps keep our bodies in good condition.  When we are healthy on the inside, we are healthy on the outside.  The sweat that comes from exercise detoxifies our bodies and proper nutrition gives it the fuel it needs to perform.  The same goes for our skin.

Get enough sleep.  Sleep is when your body rejuvenates and repairs itself.  When you don’t get enough rest, your body can’t keep up.  Being tired can also lead to dark circles and bags under your eyes, giving a less than flattering appearance.

Clean and moisturize your skin.  Removing make-up, as well as washing away the dirt and toxins of the day helps revitalize your skin every day.  Use warm, rather than hot, water and a mild cleanser to gently wash your face.  Pat, not rub, it dry and follow with a facial moisturizer.

Talk with a cosmetic physician or medical aesthetician.  Good habits and a healthy lifestyle can slow down the effects of aging on your skin, but they still creep in.  There are minimally invasive procedures that can be done in an office or spa-like setting that minimize the appearance of aging.  From Botox (r), that is injected to smooth lines around the forehead and eyes, to photo-facials that use a light to stimulate collagen growth, and dermabrasions that reveal a layer of glowing, vibrant skin, there are numerous procedures that can help you retain a more youthful look.  Meeting with a professional in this area will help you determine which course of treatment is best for you.

Karrie is a native Oregonian who followed true love to the Intermountain West.  When she’s not playing with her kids or her three-legged dog, Maggie, Karrie can be found lost in a book.  She has been writing in a professional capacity for about four years, but her proudest writing achievement is winning a district-wide writing contest in the first grade.