Let’s be honest: looking and feeling forever young is a goal most of us can relate to. And it’s totally possible to keep that youthful energy — and appearance — going … IF you make some adjustments to your lifestyle.
With just some simple tweaks to your routines, you can maintain that youthful glow for the long haul.
Really, there are two components to looking and feeling forever young: skin care and lifestyle. Between the two, you can keep that baby smooth skin for the duration.
Consider this your guide to bathing in the fountain of youth. You’re welcome.
Aging Skin: the Science
Your skin has three layers, the epidermis (outer layer), the dermis (just beneath) and the hypodermis (bottom layer). The epidermis is the waterproof layer that protects you. The dermis is where most of the magic happens, as it’s where collagen, hair follicles, sweat glands, nerves and blood vessels live.
Collagen is a protein (made up of peptides) that keeps skin looking youthful, revitalized and plump. Over time, however, our bodies produce less collagen. Also, the collagen you do have begins to break down, and signs of aging set in.
All is not lost, however! Between proper skin care, the right supplements, and lifestyle factors, it’s possible to fight back against the signs of aging and stay forever young.
In this guide we’re going to cover anti-aging skin ingredients, products, sun exposure (or lack thereof), and lifestyle choices like what to eat, exercise, sleep, and minimize stress. Stay tuned!
Slather These Ingredients On
When it comes to skin care, there are some key ingredients that help keep you looking youthful. These include:
Vitamin C — A powerful antioxidant that has a multitude of benefits for your skin; it helps to plump, firm, and moisturize skin.
Vitamin E — This protective antioxidant helps to bolster skin’s natural defenses and protect against environmental stressors and toxins, keeping skin youthful and healthy.
Hyaluronic Acid — Naturally produced by the skin, hyaluronic acid production slows as you age. Adding it into your skincare routine helps skin look youthful, plump, and supple.
Jojoba — This oil mimics skin’s natural sebum, or oil, and helps hydrate, protect, and soothe.
Squalane — Squalene is a substance naturally produced by the skin, and squalane is the version you find in skin care products. Like jojoba it mimics skin’s sebum and helps it retain moisture.
Coenzyme Q10 — This popular antioxidant is found in all of the body’s cells. Like hyaluronic acid, its production slows over time. CoQ10 can help to protect against environmental stressors, even out skin tone and improve texture.
Peptides — The building blocks of collagen, these amino acids can help keep your skin baby soft and smooth.
Retinol — Retinol is a more potent form of Vitamin A. It’s used to boost collagen production and promote a fuller, youthful look. While it can be great for anti-aging, it may irritate sensitive skin, cause redness, or make skin more photosensitive.
Take Care of Your Skin
It’s crucial to have a solid, twice daily skincare routine in order to maintain that youthful glow. The products you should have in your arsenal include:
Face Wash — Wash your face! Seriously, washing your face is the foundation for a solid skincare routine that keeps you looking younger, longer. Look for a gentle, natural face wash. Shop face wash →
Toner — Toner helps to soothe, hydrate and act as a natural cleanser, preparing skin to properly absorb nutrients and additional products. Again, opt for one that’s gentle and uses botanical ingredients. Shop toner →
Serum — One of the key tools in your anti-aging toolbox, serums are designed to add an extra oomph to your skincare routine. They’re made for different purposes, including anti-aging, moisturizing, acne-fighting, and exfoliating among others. Opt for a natural one that offers anti-aging as a benefit. Shop serum →
Moisturizer — Retaining moisture is key to looking younger, and a good natural moisturizer will make your skin believe it’s made from its natural oil, or sebum. Shop moisturizer →
Eye Cream — The skin around your eyes is thinner and doesn’t have its own oil glands like the skin on the rest of your face, so it’s the first to show signs of aging. Be sure to give it a little extra TLC with a natural eye cream to help minimize the appearance of those fine lines and wrinkles. Shop eye cream →
Sunscreen — The most important part of your morning routine, sunscreen is the ultimate protection against the sun’s rays — which can do a lot of damage when it comes to your skin. Make sure to wear an SPF of 30 or higher, and opt for a zinc oxide-based sunscreen.
Masks — Masks are a terrific add-on to your anti-aging skin routine, helping to boost nutrients, moisturize and cleanse. Depending on the type of masks, use one to two times per week after you’ve washed your face and before any other steps. Shop masks →
Here’s a rundown of the ideal anti-aging skin care routine:
- Wash your face with cleanser.
- Apply toner.
- Apply serum. Allow to absorb.
- Apply moisturizer. Allow to absorb.
- Apply eye cream.
- Apply sunscreen (in the a.m.).
This should be done twice daily. For masks, use two to three times per week after you’ve washed your face and before any other steps.
Steer Clear of the Sun
When it comes to staying young, sunscreen is a key ingredient. Studies show that regular use of sunscreen slows skin aging. It also prevents skin cancer, which is an obvious win!
Wear sunscreen anytime you step outside, and opt for SPF 30 or higher. There are two kinds of sunscreen: chemical and physical. Chemical sunscreens are absorbed into the skin and include ingredients like oxybenzone, octinoxate, octisalate and avobenzone.
Physical sunscreens include titanium dioxide or zinc oxide, and they sit on top of the skin and deflect the sun’s rays. Zinc oxide is the safest option.
If you’re going to be outside for any length of time, be sure to wear a hat and cover up any skin that’s exposed to the sun. Sun exposure = aging, so be careful.
Eat the Rainbow
What you put into your body (unsurprisingly) has a lot to do with how it ages. Antioxidants are a key factor in the fight against environmental stressors that can do damage to your cells and cause premature aging. Antioxidants fight back, and they’re found in healthy foods.
Fruits and vegetables (and other foods that originate from the earth) are full of antioxidants.
Some of the most antioxidant rich foods — often called superfoods — include:
- Berries (particularly blueberries, strawberries, cranberries, raspberries, and goji berries)
- Leafy greens like kale, collards, and bok choy
- Dark chocolate (aim for a 75% or higher concentration of cocoa)
Try to shop at the farmer’s market, as locally sourced fruits and veggies tend to have higher amounts of antioxidants than those that have to travel long distances or spend time in storage (although freezing them keeps those antioxidants intact, so you can always opt for frozen).
While it’s always better to get your nutrients through eating healthy food — you can get an extra boost through high-quality, natural supplements.
In other words, take your vitamins! Some of the key supplements for healthy, youthful looking skin include:
- Vitamin C — Probably the key ingredient when it comes to anti-aging skincare, vitamin C can brighten, tighten, and rejuvenate your skin — when taken both internally and externally. Getting enough of it in your diet (and/or via a supplement) will help amplify its youth-boosting effects on the outside of your skin.
- Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids — These monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (derived mainly from nuts, seeds, avocados and fish) will help your skin stay hydrated and supple over time.
- Vitamin D — This vitamin plays a key role in skin tone, so supplementing can help keep your texture and appearance healthy over time.
- Vitamin K — Important for minimizing the appearance of certain skin issues (like spider veins and dark circles), vitamin K is another key skin component.
- B vitamins — Biotin (B7) is commonly found in skin care supplements, and it’s known to help boost hair, skin, and nails. Other B vitamins are important, too, including thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5), pyridoxine (B6), folic acid (B9), and cobalamin (B12). Many people are deficient in B12 due to a lack of nutrients in the soil and should supplement (vegans in particular).
- Collagen — You’ve heard how important collagen is, and supplementing it can help make up for the body’s gap in production with age. The jury’s still out on whether supplementing really works, but many people swear by its effects on the skin and hair.
Drink Your H20
You’ve heard it before, you’ll hear it again: drink water. The human body is up to 60% water so your bod needs to be replenished on the regular.
Water is what keeps skin hydrated, so it can minimize the appearance of fine lines and keep your skin looking plump and firm. And if you’re dehydrated, your skin can appear even more dry and wrinkled.
Experts recommend 64 ounces per day, or eight eight ounce glasses. Get a 32 ounce reusable water bottle and you’ll only have to drink two fill-ups per day!
Limit Certain Substances
While a glass of red wine every now and then might boost your antioxidant quotient, too much alcohol can take a toll on your physiology — and how young you look and feel.
Alcohol is a diuretic, meaning it can pull water from your body and dehydrate you. Just one night out can make fine lines more noticeable and create broken blood vessels. Drinking can also cause puffiness, dryness, and red cheeks.
Coffee, too, is a diuretic and can deplete your body of moisture. While a cup a day is probably fine, overdoing it can dehydrate skin and take away that gorgeous glow.
Cigarettes are a real no-no, as they’ve long been known to cause premature aging. The chemicals in cigarettes actually narrow your blood vessels, restricting nutrients from getting to your skin cells — as well as damaging elastic and collagen. And it’s not just the skin on your face, smoking can cause wrinkling on the skin all over your body. Just say no!
Boost That Heart Rate
It’s not always easy to roll out of bed and hit the treadmill, but exercise has an array of benefits that can keep you youthful.
Exercise increases heart rate and delivers oxygen to different parts of the body — including the skin. That means the skin gets more good-for-you nutrients. Exercise also enhances collagen production.
One study found that among older adults who exercised regularly, their body composition was nearly indistinguishable from those 30 years younger.
Try to exercise 30 to 45 minutes per day if possible, and make sure to include resistance training as it can help maintain bone density as you age.
Get Some Sleep
Poor sleep does major damage to your skin. Just one night of poor sleep can lead to hanging eyelids, swollen eyes, dark circles, paler skin and more wrinkles and fine lines.
Sleep is when your body repairs and restores itself, increasing collagen production and blood flow to the skin. It fixes damage done during the day. Here are some youth-boosting sleep tips to maximize your nights:
- Get enough sleep. Experts recommend between 7 and 9 hours per night.
- Go to sleep at the same time every night and wake up at the same time every day. While it may be tempting to sleep in on the weekends, a consistent sleep schedule can actually improve your sleep quality.
- Wind down before sleep. At least an hour before bed, start winding down by reading, turning off your screens, (or using a blue light filter), and drinking herbal tea.
- Exercise. Getting a good workout earlier in the day will help you sleep better.
- Try to sleep on your back. Pressing either side of your face into the pillow won’t do your skin any favors.
Make Sure You Minimize stress
Chronic stress is toxic. When your body is under stress, the fight or flight response switches on, and it releases hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. These suppress your digestive system and immune response, increase your heart rate and blood pressure, and affect other bodily systems.
When stress is temporary, your hormone levels and bodily functions go back to normal, but chronic stress means too much cortisol. That can lead to issues like anxiety, depression, digestive problems, heart disease, cognitive issues, weight gain among other health problems — all of which can shorten your lifespan.
Research suggests 75 to 90% of all doctors visits are based on stress-related causes. To minimize stress:
- Meditate. Studies have shown meditation can actually slow the aging process. Start with 10 minutes a day and look for guided meditations on YouTube or try an app like Headspace or Calm .
- Get a hobby. Find something relaxing that you enjoy doing, whether it’s painting, making models, knitting, cooking, or nature walks. Forest bathing (or walking in nature) has been shown to reduce cortisol and boost the immune system.
- Spend time with supportive friends. Having your own tribe can significantly reduce stress. One study found that having friends and family as a “stress buffer” reduced the risk of negative behaviors like drinking, smoking or doing drugs. Not to mention that loneliness can cut your lifespan by 15 years, so staying social = staying young!
Enjoy Your Youth
The fountain of youth is at your fingertips! Now that you know what to do, you can make a few lifestyle adjustments and reap the rewards. Just follow the suggestions in this guide and you’ll keep that luminous glow forever and always.