As a man, you have likely noticed that most men’s quests to keep up appearances as they age are focused mostly as efforts to keep the pounds off, stave off sexual dysfunction, keep from going gray, and especially preventing hair loss. Less popular but equally important for looking young is skincare. It’s not just for women-- A trim body, a (nearly) full and vibrant head of hair, and a face of aged skin look the same on both men and women. So here are some tips to prevent visible aging before it takes over the face.
Get Enough Sleep
Missing sleep, even just an hour or two a night, can mean damage to the collagen in your skin as well as an increase in hormones that cause inflammation. Both of these processes speed up aging. Don’t do that to yourself-- Get enough sleep.
Protect yourself from sunlight
This goes further than slathering on some sunscreen before a day at the beach. This is everyday stuff. When we see thirty-year-olds sporting the “leather bag” aesthetic, we tend to blame it on tanning booths, not wearing sunscreen at the beach, or long days spent outside over the course of years. In other words, we separate these experiences from ourselves and make them someone else’s call, someone else’s problem. But there is so much that can be done to make sure that as you age you will look not only not-leathery, but also healthy and even youthful.
Have you ever noticed that truck drivers who have been in the profession for a number of years have faces that sag on the left more so than on the right? This is a direct impact of continued sun exposure, and everyone who spends considerable time driving faces a similar (if less extreme) challenge. This may feel impossible to inhibit short of putting sunscreen directly on your face every time you leave the house, or shutting yourself up indoors, but this is unnecessary.
East Asian culture has this figured out. Walking down the street in Japan or South Korea, it is easy to see this taken to the extreme-- Ladies in their middle ages will often put on serious visors and long sleeves to protect themselves from the sun. While you don’t have to take it to this extreme, what you may not yet know you need is sunscreen-infused lotion. This is lotion designed to be applied to the face in the morning, a recommendation dermatologists recommend anyhow, that shares the protective qualities of sunscreen. So the next time you have a road trip, or you spend considerable time outside, slather on some SPF-graded lotion (no higher than SPF-15 or SPF-25 is necessary) and consider putting on a hat. That’s already a huge step in looking younger than you actually are. You’re welcome.
Moisturize your hands and face
Dermatologists recommend moisturizing after every time you wash your face, which they most often recommend doing twice a day. This is important because when skin detects it has been dried out by water or skincare products, it releases its own chemicals to try and keep the skin moist. This includes sebum, which instigates acne. Your skin does this to protect itself from the elements, but in doing so also blemishes itself. The key to stopping this cycle is moisturizer. Not only will it protect your skin and prevent spots, it will keep you looking younger for longer.
When people assess age, they do so by assessing not only the face, but also the neck and the hands. Think about an old man, and about his neck and his hands… Do you get the picture? The best way to prevent this, in addition to mitigating sun exposure and eating well, is to moisturize the hands and neck in as well as the face. There is such a thing as over-moisturizing, but as long as you address the hands and neck with lotion several times a week, you are on track to look good.
Wash your face
Also, dab at your skin with a towel or washcloth instead of wiping it whenever possible. Lighter pressure on the skin of your face, whenever possible, is best for this highly sensitive and highly visible part of the body.
What’s sexier than a buildup of dead skin cells on the face? Almost everything. It’s like dust or dandruff, but stuck to the face. The way to handle this, and to look both younger and less gunked up, is to exfoliate periodically. Once a week, use a facial cleanser marked “exfoliating,” or if you want to be very thorough, look into chemical exfoliants. Just be sure not to over-exfoliate, and keep sessions at least three or four days apart. Once a week will suffice for most people.
Get plenty of fats (not trans fat) and protein, and severely limit sugars, especially fructose. In fact, eliminate fructose from your diet. An overconsumption of sugars will lead to an accelerated attack on the collagen and elastin, or proteins, in your skin. In general, focus on produce rather than prepackaged foods, 80% of which contain added sugars. The energy your body normally uses to combat sugar, unnatural chemicals, and simple starches could instead go toward healthier skin and more joie de vivre (joy of life) for you. And ironically, joie de vivre is often the most reliable way to look ten years younger.
De-stressing will help slow the aging of your skin, and not just because anxious humans tend to scrunch up their foreheads. Stress encourages inflammation, hunger hormones, the destruction of collagen (the main structural protein in skin), and earlier aging in general.
Exercise is the best way to get blood flowing, which means more circulation to every part of your body, including your skin. Sweating also helps your body get rid of certain toxins that would otherwise have to ooze out of your skin in otherwise, including but not limited to acne.
Halt Your Vices
Keep away from cigarettes, drugs, alcohol, coffee, which stress the lungs, brain, liver, and skin. Anything that acts as a diuretic or dehydrates the body, like coffee or alcohol, will affect the skin because it needs considerable water to maintain itself healthily. And beyond these points, addictions can age a person’s skin from the stress that comes with addiction. Trying to quit, dealing with negative consequences of chronic use and dependency, and the stress of withdrawal will all take a toll on what could otherwise have been healthy skin.
You might feel like this is only for women, because women make up the bulk of the market for age serums, but you will be the one laughing when you still look like you’re in your thirties when you’re really fifty-two. Some serums are available over the counter or at the mall, but to access the most potent ones you will need to visit a dermatologist.
If you happen to have acne, you are in luck, because dermatologists will often prescribe products like Adapalene or Retin-A, which were originally intended as anti-acne products but are incidentally some of the best anti-aging products on the market. This particular class of anti-aging agents engages with the first few outermost layers of skin and essentially makes them tougher, more resistant to even the concept of wrinkling. If you are able to obtain this as an anti-acne product, you may even be reimbursed for it by insurance. These products are life-changing and are definitely worth a try.