Author Bio: Dr. Sanusi Umar MD is the author of this article.
Many people believe that there is really nothing we can do about how old we look. Wrinkles and sagging skin are inevitable characteristics dealt to us by Nature, or our fate due to genetics. While it may seem hard to believe, we actually have far more control over how our skin ages than previously thought.
The Importance of Identical Twin Studies
If we wish to know more about whether a phenomenon is caused by our environment or genes, observing identical twins is an easy way to get answers. Identical twins have the exact same DNA makeup. So if skin aging is strictly determined by genes, then identical twins should have the same aging characteristics throughout their entire lives. However, research studies show that this is not true.
Identical Twin Siblings Can Show Drastically Different Signs of Aging
A 2009 study performed by Bahman Guyuron illustrated how identical twins can exhibit very different signs of aging due to lifestyle differences. They looked at 200 pairs of twins and found very strong correlations between perceived age and specific environmental facts that had to do with personal choices such as smoking, body mass (an index associated with overeating and weight gain), and sun exposure.
On the internet, there are numerous articles and studies discussing how UV rays from the sun are the number one cause of skin aging, up to 90%, according to a World Health Organization Report, “Sun Protection: A Primary Teaching Resource.”
According to this publication, “Chronic overexposure to the sun can change the texture and weaken the elasticity of the skin. Sun-induced skin damage causes premature wrinkling, sags and bags, and easy bruising. Up to 90% of the visible changes commonly attributed to aging may be caused by sun exposure.”
Also, when comparing genetically identical twins who received significant differences in how much sun exposure they received, their average perceived age difference was over 11 years.
What You Can Do To Slow the Progression of Your Skin’s Aging Process
Although you cannot really control your genes, you can control your lifestyle and many of the environmental factors which contribute to older-looking skin. Much of this comes down to making healthier choices, which includes limiting your exposure to the sun. Although tanning was once associated with health, due to the fact that many people wanted to achieve a healthy-looking glow, it is now known as something that is detrimental to our skin.
Also, it is important to apply sunscreen on a daily basis, even on days that are overcast.
Besides limiting your sun exposure, it would also be essential to eat a regular healthy diet, rich in antioxidants with food choices such as dark leafy green vegetables and colorful fruits.