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A Q&A with Dr. Perricone: Skincare In Your 20s

Q: I’m only in my 20s, why should I start thinking about skincare and anti-aging now? If you’re like most people, you probably think older age means more wrinkles; but in reality, it’s not that simple. Diet, sun exposure and lifestyle all directly impact how well or how poorly we age, meaning that it’s never too early to start taking care of your skin. While a plentiful supply of antioxidants in your 20s contributes to radiant, luminous skin and shiny hair, it’s still important to maintain a healthy lifestyle—one that includes getting enough sleep. This also means taking action to protect your skin from excess sun exposure, which results in rapid aging. I know what you’re thinking and don’t worry – combatting the signs of aging doesn’t mean you have to lose your summer glow. Just skip the tanning beds, lather on non-chemical sunscreen before you hit the beach, and use self-tanner instead. When it comes to skin breakouts, these can happen at any time no matter your age, and stress and a pro-inflammatory diet heavy in sugary, starchy foods may be to blame. The good news is that you’re not completely helpless in preventing acne from occurring. Keep skin clean, follow the anti-inflammatory diet and use oil-free products. Sometimes, the solution really is that simple. Whether you’re in your 20s, 40s or somewhere in between, it’s never too early or too late to take care of your skin. Although you can’t stop the hands of time entirely, you can slow them down. Why not take steps now to pre:empt the visible signs of aging before they even start?
Whether you’re in your 20s, 40s or somewhere in between, it’s never too early or too late to take care of your skin.
Q: How does diet make a difference when it comes to maintaining youthful-looking skin? It’s no secret I strongly believe part of the strategy behind beautiful, youthful skin is following the anti-inflammatory diet. That means avoiding foods like sugar, pasta, breads, pastries, baked goods and snack foods—all things that provoke a glycemic response in the body and cause a rapid rise in blood sugar. But making the conscious decision not to consume pro-inflammatory foods offers benefits that are more than just skin deep; it’s also the key to health, longevity, mental clarity and overall well-being. As the building block of life—maintaining our muscles, organs, bones, cartilage, skin and the antibodies that protect us from disease—protein should also be a crucial part of your diet. In fact, an ongoing lack of protein accelerates the aging process. Keep in mind though that not just any protein will do. Go for high-quality sources that contain all the essential amino acids such as fish, shellfish, poultry, eggs, and dairy products like yogurt, kefir and tofu. Since protein cannot be stored in the body for future use, it’s crucial that we consume enough of it during each meal to give our cells the amino acids they need for full and timely repair. Eating three meals per day and two snacks evenly spaced between these will provide a steady flow of nutrients, fats, protein and carbohydrates for optimum performance—especially when combined with a dietary supplement such as Omega 3—helping you avoid both physical and mental fatigue. Q: Faced with the challenge of trying to maintain a balance between a work life and a social life, happy hour with co-workers don’t always leave time for the gym and catching up with friends over dinner can lead to late nights. What effects will this have on my skin over time? There are a number of lifestyle factors that accelerate the signs of aging, but three in particular stand out in this case—alcohol, a lack of sleep and a lack of exercise. Let’s take a deeper look at how each one impacts your skin.
    1. Alcohol: People generally tend to think that alcohol is bad for the skin only because it dehydrates the body, but unfortunately, the true effects far outlast dehydration. That flushed skin color and feeling of warmth you experience after just one drink is a result of inflammation throughout the body that alters blood flow to the skin, which can lead to broken capillaries on the face and an unhealthy appearance that can last for days. This alcohol-induced dehydration also makes the skin more prone to fine lines and wrinkles.

    1. Lack of Sleep: We all know a good night’s sleep means you’ll awake looking refreshed, radiant and youthful – but there’s more to it than that. It’s during sleep that we rebuild energy reserves and regenerate the body through cell repair. Sleep actually turns down the negative effects of cortisol and “bad” neurotransmitters that can be elevated during stress. Coupled with the release of hormones like growth hormone and melatonin, this has a positive effect on both the immune system and the skin.

  1. Lack of Exercise: There are mountains of studies proving that exercise is vital for your health, aiding in weight loss, reducing heart disease, lowering blood pressure and more. But did you know it also impacts your skin? For those who exercise regularly, skin is thicker and has more, healthier collagen, resulting in greater strength and flexibility. It also increases circulation and gives skin a healthy glow. As long as we don’t overdo it, exercise of almost any kind has a powerful, positive, and anti-inflammatory effect on our cells.
So before you make the decision to skip the gym or sacrifice a few hours of sleep, remember that—in many ways—how well or how poorly you age is up to you.