Want to know what my no. 1 anti-aging secret is?Aug 07, 2022
When people find out I’m a dermatologist, one of the first questions I’m asked is this:
"How do I keep my skin youthful and prevent aging?"
Well, today I’m going to share with you my #1 secret to anti-aging, and if you ask me, it should really count as my number 1, number 2, AND number 3 secret: that’s how critical I believe it to be.
My top tip for anti-aging is...
Photo credit: Unela Ymeri, Unsplash
And I don’t just talk the talk, I really follow this advice myself every single day; anyone who has seen me out and about can attest! This little skincare tip has paid off BIG TIME in keeping my skin youthful and healthy.
So why is sunscreen so important?
Let’s dive in.
The truth is, there is no secret or magic potion out there to prevent aging. It’s a normal process; it’s inevitable. Our body, our bone structure, and our physiology will change naturally with aging. It’s just a fact of life. However, ultraviolet radiation (UV) from the sun accelerates the aging process and amplifies the changes seen in our skin. If you can block out the sun and its harmful radiation, you can help keep your skin looking great and for longer.
Photo credit: Sachin C Nair, Pexels
We all love the sun and it is vital for life. It helps improve our mood. Physical activity outside is very good for our bodies and minds. I’m not suggesting that you stay inside and never go outside, but there are ways to be smart about it.
I'd like to do a thought exercise with you.
Answer the following questions:
Can you think of someone you know who spends a lot of time outside and doesn’t use sun protection?
How does their skin look?
Do they appear their chronological age, or perhaps older?
How is the texture of their skin: perhaps more tanned, leathery, more wrinkles, or visible scars from skin cancer?
Now can you think of someone who stays out of the sun or wears a hat when outdoors and doesn’t tan?
How does their skin look in comparison?
When you compare and contrast these two individuals, you can see how the sun affects the skin and the aging process.
The sun has so many important roles, both in our individual lives and in the wider ecosystem. If you’re a plant, it’s critical! But you’re not a plant, so we have to be mindful of the sun and take proper precautions.
Did you know that the UV rays from the sun actually damage the DNA in our cells? They actually cause damage at the level of your DNA. Fortunately, we have amazing bodies and our cells can repair this damage to a point, but with enough UV assault, these repair mechanisms can get overwhelmed and fail.
One of the ways our body tries to protect our skin and cells from UV damage is by producing melanin: this manifests as ‘tanned’ skin. When your skin is tanned, it’s actually a reaction to sun damage!
People with more melanin in their skin at baseline, aka someone with a darker complexion, will have more sun protection naturally; however, they too can see an uptick in melanin production from sun exposure.
So no matter what complexion you are, sun protection is still imperative!
As wth most things in life, being proactive is better than being reactive. In other words, it is so much better and easier to prevent sun damage in the first place, than to try to treat the effects of sun damage once it’s happened.
Take it from a dermatologist: you will save time and money if you can prevent skin problems before they happen. There isn’t a laser, chemical peel, or filler in the world that can completely erase a lifetime of sun damage.
So, to recap:
- Aging is a fact of life that no one can really escape from.
- Sunscreen / protection are my top 1, 2, and 3 tips for keeping your skin healthy.
- Protection from the sun doesn't mean never going outside, it just means you should take precautions so that your skin is protected. SPF cream, hats, and parasols are all good options!
- If you have a higher melanine baseline, AKA darker skin tone, you still must use SPF. Having darker skin does not prevent you from getting sun damage.
- A good SPF cream will save you from expensive reactionary treatments later in life.
Do yourself a favor!
Take care of your skin now by practicing sun protection when outdoors