What do you think of when you think of aging? Wrinkles? Gray hair? What about skin discoloration?
I’ll admit, as an early-mid twenties female, I’m cognizant of my skin and the aging process that is already beginning. I try to keep my face out of the sun in hopes of slowing down the wrinkles and preventing age spots but part of the aging process is unavoidable.
There are two parts to the process: intrinsic aging and extrinsic aging. Intrinsic aging is the unavoidable part of growing older. As we age, our skin naturally thins and becomes less elastic, causing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Intrinsic aging is controlled by our genes, which partially explains why two women (or men) of the same age can look so different.
Then there is extrinsic aging, which is down to environmental factors.
Before we get into the environmental factors of extrinsic aging, it’s important to know the basic anatomy of the skin, and how these factors can damage your skin.
Anatomy of the Skin
The skin is your body’s largest organ, consisting of three layers:
- The epidermis, the outermost layer. It’s a waterproof layer responsible for your skin tone.
- The dermis, or middle layer. This layer houses hair follicles, sweat glands and connective tissue.
- The hypodermis, or deepest layer. This is made up of fat and connective tissue.
The epidermis is also the home of melanocytes, special cells that produce melanin, a pigment. Melanin gives color to the hair, skin and eyes. Your body produces melanin to help protect deeper skin layers from damage. When your skin is damaged by the sun, your body increases melanin production, causing your skin to change color. Depending on your skin tone, you may notice your skin turn darker, or tan. You may also notice your skin turning a reddish, burn color, too.
Regardless of whether you turn tan or red, your skin is being damaged. This is why it’s so important to protect your skin from the sun and other environmental factors that can cause premature aging and skin damage.
Environmental Factors in Extrinsic Aging
The number one cause of extrinsic aging, including skin discoloration and wrinkles, is harmful UV rays caused my too much sun exposure, both natural and artificial.
To protect your skin from sun damage:
- Protect your skin from the sun, all day, every day. Whether you’re running outside, on the beach, or just out and about, always have a broad-spectrum sunscreen on and your face shielded from the sun. (Check out some of our customers’ favorite sunscreens here.)
- Avoid tanning beds. There is nothing safe about them. Getting a “base tan” does not help you avoid sunburn on a vacation–that’s what sunscreen, a hat, and the shade are for! If you’re looking for some color, try a natural self tanner, like Alba Botanica’s Very Emollient Sunless Tanner. If you’re still not convinced that tanning beds are dangerous, consider what Dr. Susan Evans from the Dr. Oz show has to say:
Tanning beds are not safe. Tanning beds often exceed “safe” UV limits, despite the claims of the salon. Teens are at special risk because their bodies are undergoing such accelerated growth rates that their cells are more prone to the damage of the UV radiation. By routinely tanning their skin starting a a young age, teens put themselves at greater lifetime risk of developing skin cancer. Contrary to popular belief, it is possible to get a sunburn in a tanning bed ,and your eyes are at an increased risk of developing cataracts and corneal burns.
Your lifestyle choices can also affect your skin health. Consider the following for good skin health.
- Don’t smoke. Smoking accelerates the aging process.
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet. A healthy lifestyle can do wonders for your skin! This is also true for conditions like eczema or acne. For more on natural ways to handle eczema click here. For more on dealing with acne click here.
Natural Solutions for Damaged Skin
Even if you’ve done your best to avoid the environmental factors that contribute to extrinsic aging, you may find yourself with more spots or discoloration than you may like.
One of the best known natural skin lighteners is lemon juice. Lemon juice is loaded with vitamin C, a natural antioxidant that may help lighten spots on your skin. Read more about the benefits of lemon juice here.
If you’re considering using lemon juice there are a few things you’ll want to consider.
- Use only fresh lemon juice, not the pre-bottled kind. The bottled juice is often diluted and may also contain preservatives. Do not use frozen lemon juice either.
- Test the lemon juice on your skin before using it on your entire face. Do what’s called a patch test–use the lemon juice on a small area to see how your body reacts to the juice.
- Watch your eyes! Lemon juice is very acidic so be careful not to get any in your eyes.
- You can apply plain lemon juice directly to your skin but because of the harshness of it, you may want to consider mixing the lemon juice with other, less harsh ingredients.
You may want to try this recipe from Love to Know.
Dry Skin Lemon Juice Face Mask
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 1 tsp honey
- 1 tsp lemon juice
Mix ingredients to form a thin paste. Massage onto skin for 2-3 minutes. After 10-15 minutes, rinse mask off.
Natural Skin Lighteners
If lemon juice is too harsh for your skin you may want to try one of these natural skin lighteners. Great prices, and best of all they ship for free!
1. Skin Lighten Natural Fade & Age Spot Creme from Derma E. This product contains a blend of vitamins and herbs that may help diminish dark spots on your skin, even out your skin tone and lighten your complexion. Derma E is a well-respected company in the natural skin-care field. This product contains no parabens, pthlates, sulfates or artificial colors either.
2. Lightening Vitamin K Creme Plus from Jason. This creme is an all-natural moisturizer that’s designed to help brighten your skin. It contains Vitamin K, herbs and Echinacea to help lighten your skin, naturally!
3. Probiotic Skin Brightener from Miessence. That’s right – probiotics aren’t just good for your stomach! This lotion features naturally fermented ingredients to provide nutrients and a lactic liquid to lighten and brighten skin.
When it comes to your skin and your skin health, your best bet is prevention. Protect your skin in the sun, take care of your skin, and live a healthy, active lifestyle. Not only will this help your skin, but your entire body will benefit!
Like Benjamin Franklin said,
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.