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Top 5 Easily Preventable Causes of Skin Aging. - Skinsights by Dr. Sean Lee


1. Daylight

Solar energy from the sun remains the number 1 preventable cause of accelerated skin aging. The Sun is a powerful factory of radiation, sending high energy photons through the atmosphere and directly onto our skin during the daytime. These high energy particles penetrate deep within our skin, causing havoc by damaging and undermining the integrity of our natural scaffolding (Collagen, Elastin and Keratin). Without these important protein structures, our skin loses it's elasticity over time and the resulting weak areas manifest as wrinkles and fine lines. Furthermore, in an act of defense against these solar particles, our skin's natural defenders (melanocyte cells) produce a dark pigment known as melanin to "shield" further damage. This results in pigmentation and uneven skin tone.

How to prevent Photoaging: Minimise sun exposure where practical and employ the use of sunscreens with adequate SPF to slow down the process of photoaging.

2. Dehydration

bubbles going upwards on a body of water

Water alone makes up more than 70% of who we are. It is essential for life and life-processes. The key for keeping vital organs functioning is blood pressure, which is related to blood volume. Without adequate hydration, our bodies prioritise the flow of blood and water to our vital organs, sacrificing circulation to our skin and extremities. As water is channeled away from our peripheries whenever we are dehydrated, skin begins to shrivel up much like dehydrated fruit, leaving crevices and wrinkles that make us look much older. There are generally 2 ways to become "dehydrated". The most obvious method is to avoid taking in fluids. But most people may not realise the second way which is through the consumption of diuretic substances. Coffee, Tea, and Alcohol are staples in our modern life. The repeated consumption of these in excess causes our kidneys to produce large amounts of urine, removing essential water from our bodies.

How to prevent Dehydration: It is not only important to stay hydrated throughout the day, but to also consume diuretics in moderation. Try to stick to no more than 1-2 coffees a day and avoid alcohol binges. Using a hydrating moisturizer up to twice daily can help to reduce the appearance of dry, damaged skin.

3. Smoking

white cigarette stick on white wall

It is almost needless to say, but a cigarette is a burning factory of toxins. Decades after even doctors used to advocate smoking as a stress-relief tool, modern medical sciences have shown us the sobering reality of smoking. As harmful free radicals and toxins accumulate within our skins, they flow to our extremities and, much like solar radiation, damage collagen and elastin causing skin to prematurely become loose and saggy.

Quit it!: Quitting smoking is probably the best thing you can do for your health (and for stopping unnecessary aging!) Consult your doctor to take advantage of the plethora of quit-smoking tools and aids. Perhaps vanity can be stronger than your desire to smoke!

4. Expressions

woman in black crew neck shirt

For the more dramatic few who are expressive in their communication, your conveyance of emotion might be taking a slow toll on your face, as it gets stretched like pizza dough. Repetitive expressions are performed by contracting the same muscles over-and-over again, forming wrinkles on your face that eventually become permanent over many years. Remember "laugh lines" and "frown lines" are aptly named after their direct causes. As a matter of fact, botox injections work to temporarily paralyse these contractile muscles from producing unsightly wrinkles.

How to prevent expressions from causing wrinkles: While it's important social behaviour to be expressive, try to limit the same expressive patterns excessively and repeatedly, your older self will thank you years to come.

5. Sleep

woman laying on bed

Ever wonder why she's called "Sleeping Beauty"? Sleep is a vital cornerstone of health and wellbeing. It is our bodies' humble request that after using and abusing it every day, we give it some time to recover. As fast-paced modern life gets in the way of things, we often overlook this ancient bodily mechanism that really gives us longevity and vitality. "Not enough sleep" might sound very common and excusable, until we peel back the evidence behind it and understand the destructive havoc caused by poor sleep patterns. Sleep is a complex area of medicine and a lack of it has been shown to cause inflammation, oxidative damage from harmful molecules, hormonal imbalances and even DNA damage. A person who sleeps poorly may show premature signs of aging and a scourged, aged appearance.  A well rested person (at least 7-8 hours daily of quality sleep) on the other hand has the upper hand in the fight against time to prevent aging. 

How to sleep better: Sleep doesn't come easily or naturally to some people especially those who suffer from anxiety or chronic stress. It is important to consult your doctor or seek help from a sleep physician / counsellor to ensure that you get great quality sleep every night!

Dr Sean Lee

by Dr. Sean Lee (MBBS)