I’m really excited for today’s post. Remember how I told you about my year-long partnership with Pond’s? Well, one of the reasons I was so excited about it was that I’d have access to The Pond’s Institute… their global network of over 700 skincare scientists. It’s kind of like having a slew of researchers on call to answer all of my (many!) skincare questions. For today’s post, I wanted to better understand skin’s natural aging process… and the things that we are able to do about it. And so I reached out to my friends at the The Pond’s Institute. I was blown away by the amount of information I got back. No fluff, big claims, or empty promises that a single product will fix all of your woes… just facts, figures, and a really holistic picture of what we can do to make the most of what we’ve got. I really hope this is as interesting for you as it was for me… The nerd in me really loved learning all of this!
Aging is caused by about 50% genetics and 50% lifestyle/environmental based factors. There isn’t much you can do about the genetic part, but there are a lot of things you can do to control the other stuff. The Pond’s Institute breaks down the preventable stuff pretty simply. First there’s your lifestyle (the choices you make on a daily basis)… and second, your environment (the radiation + pollution we come in contact with every day).
We’ll begin with lifestyle. The way that we live plays a big impact on how we look… the three main factors being diet, stress, and sleep.
ONE // DIET: Besides taking a toll on your waistline, an unhealthy diet can also accelerate the natural skin aging process. I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but sugar is pretty much the devil…. but not just because it can make you fat. An excess amount can damage proteins, which leads to wrinkles and sagging. Studies from The Pond’s Institute actually show that the faces of women following a healthy diet appeared to be 1.8 years younger than their actual age! Besides avoiding sugar and eating clean, it’s also important to make sure that you are getting enough Vitamin C and E. These two vitamins are considered “skin nutrients” and can also help to slow down the skin aging process.
TWO // STRESS: This one is something I still have a hard time with. Besides the side effects of stress (overeating, smoking, drinking), being stressed out throws your hormones out of whack. The loss of hormone equilibrium can activate cytokine and melanin over production, which leads to skin darkening and aging. Also, high-anxiety levels have a significant correlation with deep wrinkles around the eye. There’s no proof, but the correlation is there. So what to do about this? Find an outlet. For me, running is my number one stress-release, but other exercise helps too. I’ve also been taking meditation classes at MNDFL in Greenwich Village. Friends of mine swear by the Headspace app. And I’m working on better time management.
THREE // SLEEP: Are you sleeping enough? This is a really big one. A lack of sleep results in the over-secretion of cortisol (a stress hormone). This results in dark circles and a lackluster complexion. I wrote a post about sleeping more (here!) but leading a more active lifestyle can help relieve stress and help you fall asleep faster. Also… something I didn’t know until the Pond’s team told me… staying hydrated is correlated with a healthy sleep pattern… and healthy skin, too… so drink up!
Besides all of those things you can control (within your own lifestyle), there is also your environment… and the elements. This is the most infuriating one for me… you can be getting all the sleep in the world and eating perfectly, but if you don’t properly protect your skin from environmental factors, all bets are off.
ONE // OUTDOOR RADIATION. By now, everyone knows that the sun is bad for your skin. UV exposure can lead to premature aging. UVA rays can immediately cause sunburn and pigmentation, but in the long-term they can penetrate deeper into skin, accelerating the skin aging process. UVB rays, on the other hand, are sneakier. These have a delayed effect on the skin. Just seven minutes of exposure to mid-noon sun will induce immediate tanning. A few things I didn’t know:
- UV rays penetrate 30 feet into water.
- Pavements can reflect up to 45% of UV rays.
- Clothing only blocks out about 40% of UV rays.
For these reasons, it’s imperative to use a sunscreen or moisturizer with SPF every single day. No exceptions. Get the tops of your hands, too… we often overlook our hands which is why they end up looking older than the rest of our body!
TWO // INDOOR RADIATION. Indoor radiation is something I’ve really only just learned about from working with Pond’s. This terrifies me, to be honest. I always figured as long as I was inside (or away from a sunny window) I would be fine. That’s not exactly the case. Indoor light from our devices (computer screens, cell phones, tablets, and even office lights) can penetrate deeply into the skin and cause damage. It’s not quite as strong (four days in front of your laptop is about the same as 20 minutes in the noon sun. So again, a moisturizer with SPF is necessary… even when you are inside!
THREE // INDOOR AND OUTDOOR POLLUTION. Environmental pollution can cause inflammation, disrupt the skin’s natural barrier, and damage the collagen that maintains our skin’s natural elasticity… all of these things causing premature wrinkling and aging. The biggest culprits (outdoors) are UV radiation, car exhausts, dust from construction. Just thinking about all of the things I walk by running around the city on a daily basis is starting to make my head spin here.
Other pollutants include cooking fumes (yes seriously!), chemical odors, and secondhand smoke (gross). On top of that, chronic exposure to repetitive exposure to sources of heat (the stove, a heated car seat, even your laptop) may cause the skin to wrinkle or darken. These pollutants activate melanocytes, producing excess melanin. Excess melanin then causes dark spots and uneven skin tone. Furthermore, these pollutants can generate reactive oxygen species (ROS) in skin, which induce inflammation and damage barrier function. To combat all of this, you need to look at your skincare routine holistically… Deep cleansing is important, as is protection. I’ve been a fan of deep-cleansing for ages now and love a good double cleanse. A moisturizer with SPF is also very important. Dark spots can be helped with a spot corrector. Pond’s recommends their Rejuveness Anti-Wrinkle Cream as it can help to reduce the occurrence of wrinkles and fine lines with continued use. It’s loaded with AHAs + Collagen… AHAs exfoliate to reveal brighter skin, while collagen plumps the skin.
There you have it. The more you know, the more you can do!
Created in partnership with Pond’s.