While it isn't the worst sign of aging, as it won't kill you, wrinkles are surely the most visible sign of aging. Millions of dollars are spent every year in attempts to fight them, with varying degrees of efficacy, to the point that "anti-aging" is often shorthand for "anti-wrinkle". If youthful beauty is your thing, you don't want to waste time and money throwing everything and anything you can find at the problem. Simple, targeted approaches that benefit your overall health are best. There are many ways to fight wrinkles, and what is best depends on the individual, but here are 5 of the most basic ones, starting with...
1) Stress management: Poorly managed stress causes wrinkles in more ways than simply frowning all the time. Chronic stress, whether it be psychological or physical, will activate the fight/flight response just as acute stress (which isn't usually harmful) does. In this response, levels of adrenaline and cortisol rise dramatically in order to give you the energy needed to escape the "threat". Sustained levels of high cortisol causes protein breakdown (so it can be used as energy), and the collagen and elastin in your skin is not exempted. This leads to more wrinkles, thin skin, easy bruising and dryness. Once again, however, the best ways to reduce stress and improve stress management depend on the individual, so seeing a qualified naturopath is recommended.
2) Sleep hygiene: As if poor sleep didn't cause enough problems already, it also contributes to skin aging! Research on 60 women without chronic illnesses found that poor sleep quality and duration (less than 5 hours a night) was linked to higher skin aging scores and even poorer resilience against UV exposure. Women who slept well had a 30% better response to a skin barrier challenge.
3) Diet: Yes, diet affects skin aging too, and those articles saying that sugar speeds aging aren't all clickbait! A diet that causes chronically elevated blood sugar increases the formation of advanced glycation end-products (AGEs), which tangle in proteins such as collagen and elastin, thus speeding up aging. They also lead to a vicious cycle of inflammation and oxidative stress (more aging!). Common herbs and spices, including cinnamon, garlic, oregano, ginger and cloves may inhibit AGE production, especially when cooking, as high-heat methods such as frying, grilling and roasting generate them too.
4) Avoid pollution: This one is taking a collective effort, with the switch to clean energy and electric vehicles from fossil fuels well underway, but even though it's not happening overnight it will be worth it in the end! In a study of elderly women, exposure to traffic-related air pollution was strongly linked with skin aging, which included more pronounced wrinkles and 20% more age spots. As exposure to pollution is still unavoidable, enhancing your detoxification abilities is important, but the best way to do it depends on the individual (again).
5) Green tea polyphenols: Polyphenols are antioxidant chemicals found naturally in green tea (among other sources), which can protect against UV-induced sunburn, skin aging and immune suppression. In a clinical study of 60 women without skin conditions, drinking a beverage with green tea polyphenols led to less UV-induced redness and better skin quality overall, compared to placebo. Elasticity, roughness, hydration, density and scaling all improved. Green tea improved blood flow and oxygen delivery to the skin, which may boost regeneration.
Like other aspects of aging, skin aging isn't something you just have to accept; there are ways to mitigate it, which benefit your overall health too. And besides, research and clinical experience related to anti-aging is building up every day - we live in exciting times.