We all know that aging is a natural part of life—and it's something many of us embrace and enjoy. The lines around our eyes and mouths are often considered signs of a good life that add character and expression to our faces.

But what if aging signs are appearing a little too soon for your liking, and the youthful glow your complexion once had is quickly starting to fade? This could be a sign that you're experiencing premature aging skin.

Our genetics play a big part in how we grow older, but premature aging is also caused by our lifestyle choices and habits. Here, we take a look at what this term actually means, how we can tell if we're experiencing it, and what we can do to prevent and treat its signs.

Signs of Premature Aging

A loss of elasticity in the skin, fine lines, deeper wrinkles, dark circles, and a general loss of luminosity are all signs of premature aging skin. Your complexion may also feel generally drier with a grey tone to it, while age spots can appear far earlier than you ever expected.

As everyone ages slightly differently, it's hard to pinpoint when aging signs are actually considered "premature." The best gauge is if you've started to notice aging signs all of a sudden and much before you were expecting them.

Lifestyle Habits and Their Impact

Our skin's condition is often a good indicator of what's going on inside, which means that our lifestyle habits show up pretty quickly on our faces. Overexposure to the sun, for example, can create cumulative skin damage that creeps up on us over time, causing pigmentation, sunspots, fine lines, and skin sagging. This is due to the way that ultraviolet rays break down collagen and elastin production in the skin, taking away its strength and elasticity.

Smoking is another major cause of premature aging in the skin. Mayo Clinic explains that not only does smoking create oxidative stress, but the nicotine in cigarettes can also reduce oxygen and nutrients flowing to the skin. Additionally, the number of chemicals in cigarettes can trigger molecular events that remodel or damage structures necessary for skin elasticity and health. If you pair this with frequent sun exposure, you're far more likely to experience early skin aging.

Other lifestyle factors such as a lack of sleep, stress, pollution and alcohol, and aggressive caffeine intake are also thought to contribute due to the way they dehydrate the skin.

Prevention Is Better Than the Cure

The best way of maintaining or improving your overall health is by sticking to a healthy, well-balanced lifestyle that incorporates regular exercise, fresh fruit and vegetables, protein, and plenty of sleep. By living your life in the healthiest way possible, you help to keep your body and mind working well and your skin looking and feeling its best. This is also the best way of preventing premature skin aging.

Quitting or cutting down on habits such as smoking and drinking can also have a major impact on your long-term health.

It's also very important to protect your skin from sun exposure each day by wearing a broad-spectrum sunscreen. This will prevent cumulative skin damage while also enriching the skin with glow-boosting ingredients. EltaMD UV Glow Broad-Spectrum SPF 36, for example, is formulated with powerful antioxidants, such as high-purity niacinamide and ergothioneine, that brighten the skin, protect it from daily aggressors in the environment, and promote a healthy glow. Wearing a daily SPF can also help to improve the appearance of more advanced aging signs and treat concerns such as hyperpigmentation.

The Importance of a Daily Skin Care Routine

As many premature aging signs—such as fine lines, wrinkles, and dullness—are caused by dehydration in the skin, you can help to improve their appearance with a hydrating everyday skin care routine.

Start by removing pollution and dirt from the skin with a gentle cleanser before applying a serum rich in antioxidants. This can help to brighten the look of the skin while also fighting off free radicals that cause aging signs to appear or look more pronounced. Finally, apply a moisturizer suited to your skin type and a broad-spectrum sunscreen, if applying in the morning.

If you have more pronounced aging signs or concerns such as pigmentation, you may also want to make an appointment with a Dermatologist to discuss a more intensive treatment plan.

Loving the Natural You

While it's very important to live a healthy life and protect your skin from harmful aggressors in our environment, it's also wise to remember that aging is a natural part of life. A healthy complexion is at its most beautiful when it glows with health and hydration and reflects our expressions and personality—crow's feet included.

Author

  • Catherine Hufton is a UK-based freelance journalist and writer who has worked for some of fashion's most iconic companies and written for the world's best known magazines and newspapers. Beginning her career at Net-a-Porter and Matches Fashion over 12 years ago, she has created content for L'Oréal, Elle, Harper's Bazaar, The Telegraph and more.