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Successful Aging: 6 ways to diminish facial lines and wrinkles

Dear Readers,

Last week we identified age, genetics, smoking, exposure to ultraviolet rays and more as responsible for facial wrinkles and fine lines. This week we’ll address what might be done to diminish them.

Lifestyle counts. Here are just a few to consider:

Limit sun exposure: The Mayo Clinic and others urge each of us to limit the time we spend in the sun and to wear protective clothing such as wide-brimmed hats, long sleeves and sunglasses. Some suggest to avoid the sun altogether since it is considered the number one cause of those fine lines.

Use sunscreen: The Academy of Dermatology recommends using a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a SPF of 30 or more. It should be applied every two hours or more frequently when swimming or perspiring. Also use products that have a built-in sunscreen that blocks UVB and UVA rays. Note: UVB rays are the most potent rays that reach the earth and cause sunburn which can lead to the development of skin cancers. UVA rays have less energy and penetrate the deepest into the skin. These rays cause fine lines and in high doses can cause skin cancer, pigmentation and more. Sunscreen is the protection.

Use moisturizers: The Mayo Clinic also indicates that dry skin shrivels plump skin cells that can lead to premature fines lines and wrinkles. (Most women would say all lines and wrinkles are premature.) Moisturizers cannot prevent wrinkles and fine lines but can temporarily mask them.

Don’t smoke: Lines from smoking have been referred to as “smoking wrinkles” that form around the mouth caused by the consistent pursing of the lips to inhale the smoke. The repeated facial expression causes collagen to weaken in that area. And collagen keeps the skin elastic. Once smoking wrinkles form, they often are harder to treat because chemicals contained in the tobacco can cause irreversible damage to the skin on a cellular level. Check with your dermatologist for the best remedy to remove dead and discolored skin and to hydrate parched skin.

Eat a healthy diet: There is some evidence that certain vitamins in our diet help protect the skin. Although more study is needed it is important to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables particularly those that contain compounds called anti-oxidants that fight damage caused by free radicals. Examples of these foods are berries, kale, broccoli, tomatoes, pumpkin and carrots. Dark colored fruits and vegetables suggest high levels of antioxidants.

Don’t overwash your face: According to some dermatologists, tap water strips the skin of its natural oils and moisture that protects against wrinkles. Unless a soap has moisturizers, a cleanser is recommended.

Here are just two examples of topical treatments. Alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) are natural fruit acids that lift away the top layer of dead skin cells, thereby reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles particularly around the eyes. Retinoids are a class of vitamin A derivatives that have been used in skin care since the ’70s and originally used to treat acne.

Of course, plastic surgery is an option.

Then there are reported home remedies that actually sound like a fruit salad. These include home-made mixtures that contain one of the following ingredients: Ginger, bananas, almonds, carrots, lemon juice or pineapple. Some you apply, others you consume. For example, when it comes to ginger, it is recommended that you mix a pinch of grated ginger with a tablespoon of honey and eat the mixture every morning. As for bananas, it is suggested you mash bananas into a thick paste and apply to wrinkled areas. Leave it on for one half-hour, wash and apply moisturizer.

Folks: I have no idea if these work, nor am I suggesting you use these or any others. But if you have a folk remedy you recommend, please let me know.

Wrinkles and fine lines to some extent are part of normal aging. We each need to decide what makes us feel good. Some are comfortable with the character lines; for others it’s a burden. Do remember, we have earned each one of what one might call imperfections. For many of us these are signs of perfection – a life well lived.

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