Elastin is an essential skin protein that gives skin its “stretchy” quality. As we age, it is inevitable that our skin will lose some of its elasticity, or firmness. However, there are a number of habits you can adopt that will slow down, and possibly reverse some of the effects of aging on your face.
#1: Avoid the Sun
Simply put, sun exposure, over time, gradually damages skin elastin. If not prevented, eventually this defective elastin will completely replace healthy elastin. Naturally, the skin begins to take on a wrinkly and less supple appearance. It extreme cases, it will take on the leathery quality that you commonly see in older adults who have spent an exorbitant amount of unprotected time in the sun. Simply put, the skin no longer bounces back to its stretchy, healthy form. Sun avoidance (or wearing sunblock) will not reverse elastic impairment in of itself, but will certainly prevent further damage from occurring. In addition, it will allow other skin-firming activities to be more effective.
#2: Treat Your Skin Gently
Resist the temptation to use every highly-promoted skin product that hits that market. Some of these products can be harsh, especially to sensitive skin. If you have dry skin, use a gentle moisturizer with as few chemicals and preservatives as possible. A good example is pure, unrefined Shea butter. In addition, wear little or no makeup whenever possible to let your skin breathe. Mineral makeup is recommended, because unlike some liquid and pancake foundations, it will not clog your pores. Avoid hot water and use gentle cleansers, not harsh soaps that will dry out skin. Keeping your skin healthy and supple is a major factor in maintaining its elasticity, especially in persons over the age of 30.
#3: Quit Smoking
There are numerous reasons why tobacco smoking should be avoided, and not surprisingly, skin damage among them. Smoking constricts blood vessels in the skin, which reduces its supply of oxygen and other nutrients. Conversely, increased blood flow will make the skin look more plump and glowing. Smoking also has the added drawback of adding wrinkles around eyes due to squinting, as well as around the mouth from puffing and pursing.
#4: Exercise and Be Physically Active
One way to achieve increased blood flow to the skin is to engage in physical activities. Even going for a walk outside (with sunscreen, of course!) will stimulate vitamin D metabolism, which promotes healthy skin. Any physical movement contributes to muscle tone and mass. Furthermore, ample blood flow will not only supply much-needed oxygen, but will also aid in the expulsion of toxins from your skin.
#5: Eat Organic Foods and Healthy Fats
Consume natural foods which are organically grown and free of chemicals and processing. Doing this will limit your body’s intake of toxins, and maximize its intake of essential nutrients. Sorbitol, which is found in berries, grapes, and seaweed, among other places, helps your skin hold moisture, which is also critical to retaining skin elasticity. Omega 3 fatty acids, which are found in fish, are great for your skin and overall health. While most people don’t wish to consume enough oily fish to make a difference, omega 3 supplements can be found pretty much anywhere that vitamins are sold.
#6: Take Vitamin Supplements
In addition to a multivitamin daily, persons concerned with skin health will find increased benefits in taking extra doses of vitamins A, B, and C. Vitamin A, especially in its purest form, retinol, helps to repair and protect the skin. The presence of B vitamins increases the amount of red blood cells, which increases blood flow to the skin and elsewhere. Finally, vitamin C produces collagen, which an essential protein that helps keeps skin soft and pliable. In addition, vitamin C is an antioxidant, which fights free-radicals that break down skin cells.
#7: Try Facial Exercises
There is some evidence that certain face and neck exercises can have a positive effect on inelastic, sagging facial skin. The theory behind this goes back the benefits of increased blood flow and muscle tone. While this sounds promising, it should be noted that exercises won’t necessarily repair damaged elastin, but will make skin healthier overall due to the above-mentioned benefits. For best results, exercises should be performed in conjunction with a healthy diet, exercise, and sun avoidance.