Thanks to science—and a huge anti-aging industry that was born from its findings—40 isn't what it used to be. Thanks to healthy habits, dermatological interventions, and a significant amount of luck, people can look younger for longer. But you don't have to shell out thousands for the most advanced creams and laser procedures to keep a youthful appearance in your fifth decade. Research has found there are some simple and effective ways to turn back the clock and reduce the visible signs of aging. Read on to find out more—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.
Get More Sleep
Not getting enough sleep doesn't just make you look a bit haggard the next day. When poor sleep becomes chronic, it can make you look older permanently. According to a study published in Clinical and Experimental Dermatology, women who reported having poor quality sleep experienced 30% better "skin-barrier recovery" than women who got poor sleep, and had "significantly lower intrinsic skin aging." Experts like the National Sleep Foundation recommend getting seven to nine hours of good quality sleep every night.
To prevent premature skin aging, exercise most days of the week. "Findings from a few studies suggest that moderate exercise can improve circulation and boost the immune system," says the American Academy of Dermatology. "This, in turn, may give the skin a more youthful appearance." Experts recommend at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity (or 75 minutes of vigorous activity) weekly, ideally spread throughout the week.
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Get Your Vitamin C
The powerful antioxidant known as vitamin C is essential to the production of collagen, one of the proteins that keeps skin young-looking. According to a 2021 review of studies published in the journal Molecular Biology Reports, vitamin C can also protect against the shortening of telomeres, the portions of a chromosome that hold DNA information and get shorter as they age.
You probably knew that booze is not a beauty drug, but research has found that heavy drinking contributes directly to the most visible signs of facial aging. In a 2019 multinational study of more than 3,200 women, researchers found that those who drank more than eight drinks a week had more "upper facial lines, under-eye puffiness, oral commissures, midface volume loss, and blood vessels" than women who drank moderately or abstained from drinking alcohol altogether.
Avoid Added Sugar
After 40, it's especially important to limit your sweet tooth—and not just for your weight. "Findings from research studies suggest that a diet containing lots of sugar or other refined carbohydrates can accelerate aging," says the American Academy of Dermatology. According to a study published in the journal Clinical Dermatology, when high levels of glucose and fructose (a.k.a. sugar) are consumed, they bind to amino acids in collagen and elastin, damaging them and preventing repair. The results: Wrinkles and sagging skin. And to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.