The Best Anti-Aging Skincare Secrets
Page Medically Reviewed and Edited by Cyrus Khambatta, PhD
How to Stop Premature Aging
The aging process is incredibly complex, and affects the different parts of your body many ways. In this article, we’re going to focus on the external signs of aging, specifically skin and hair care.
First, we’ll touch on different factors that can cause signs of premature aging — like death of skin cells, age-related wrinkles, sagging skin — and then we’ll touch on some natural strategies that can help slow the signs of aging, along with boosting your overall health.
Table of Contents
What Causes Premature Aging?
Premature aging of the skin and hair can happen due to both internal and external factors. External and environmental factors — like heat, exposure to sun and chemicals, lack of moisture, and others — can directly damage your hair and skin.
Many of these external factors can’t and shouldn’t be avoided entirely. After all, simply going about your life will expose your skin and hair to the environment, and we definitely don’t recommend trying to spend your entire life inside.
However, internal stressors on your body tend to affect the natural ability of your skin and hair to grow, heal, and regenerate. Combined with excessive external exposure, these internal stressors can lead to common signs of premature aging in the long-term.
We’ll explore some commonly thought-of risk factors for premature aging, and touch on how they can provide both internal and external aging factors.
Does Smoking Cigarettes Cause Premature Aging?
Smoking cigarettes affects the body both internally and externally. First, consistent exposure to any form of smoke results in drier skin, wrinkles, and a slightly changed, sallow complexion.
Add in the various dangerous chemicals found in tobacco smoke, and consistent exposure to tobacco smoke has a noticeable effect over the years.
Cigarettes affect the inside of your body noticeably as well. Apart from the drastically increased risk for various forms of cancer, cigarettes cause internal stress, accelerate the molecular mechanisms involved in aging, and damage your microvasculature.
In tandem, these factors form a recipe for drastically accelerated signs of aging.
Does Smoking Marijuana Cause Premature Aging?
Currently, legal hurdles have prevented any extensive research being done on the effects of smoking marijuana, including in the area of premature aging.
As mentioned above, repeated and consistent exposure to any form of smoke results in a lack of moisture and the presence of foreign chemicals on your skin.
So it’s possible that frequently smoking marijuana may have similar external effects on the skin as those of cigarettes, but further research is necessary.
However, the effects of the chemicals found in marijuana — namely cannabidiol and THC — have not been explored, so we can’t say for sure as yet.
Does Alcohol Cause Premature Aging?
In a nutshell, yes,alcohol does cause signs of premature aging.
One extensive study found that heavy alcohol use, which was classified as in excess of 8 drinks per week, was associated with “increased upper facial lines, under-eye puffiness, oral commissures, and midface volume loss.”
Alcohol works internally, leading to a wide variety of problems including vitamin deficiency, tissue damage, disruption of inflammatory responses, and the inability to produce collagen.
Does Coffee Cause Premature Aging?
The jury is still out on whether or not drinking coffee can cause signs of prematures aging. In one study, data indicated that drinking caffeine inhibited collagen growth in human skin cells, which can in turn cause wrinkles and signs of aging skin.
More studies will have to be done to provide a conclusive answer.
Do Antidepressants Cause Premature Aging?
When functioning as prescribed with no side effects, there’s no research that shows that taking antidepressants correlates to premature aging, internal or external.
As a result, it’s probably inaccurate to say that antidepressants cause premature aging. However, severe allergic reactions to antidepressants, like any severe allergic skin reaction, likely can.
Do Statins Cause Premature Aging?
Statins are another factor that has conflicting effects. On a cellular level, statins lower the ability of certain types of cells to form colonies, and accelerate several other biomarkers that are consistent with aging.
What does this mean for those taking statins? Currently, the results are unclear, at least as to the direct effects of statins themselves.
So overall, it’s vastly preferable to take steps to combat high cholesterol with lifestyle changes like adjusting your diet, intermittent fasting, and exercising. Most of these positive lifestyle changes will also greatly benefit your overall health, and in turn combat signs of premature aging.
Can Stress Cause Premature Aging?
It seems intuitive that stress can cause premature aging, but stress can be hard to measure and quantify. Based on the research, however, there are quite a few correlations that you can draw between stress and premature aging, both externally and internally.
Overall, the question with stress isn’t “does stress cause premature aging,” but rather, “how severely does stress cause premature aging.”
Can Premature Aging Be Reversed?
When focusing on external factors, there are three major ways to reverse premature aging — lifestyle changes, protective measures, and medical interventions like chemical peels and botox.
Though dermatology professionals often recommend lifestyle changes and protectionary measures to protect the skin (which also have positive benefits like fewer deep wrinkles and fine lines), medical interventions are a different case.
For example, though injections of Botox typically have limited short-term side effects, this skin-paralysis-inducing toxin can have some serious long-term adverse effects ranging from botulism to anaphylactic shock.
Reactions from chemical peels tend to be less severe than those from Botox injections, with more common complications including crusting, postinflammatory hyperpigmentation, and erythema, and as a whole tend to be less invasive and involved processes.
The Final Word on Medical Intervention
Though interventionary measures tend to be safe and effective, we recommend lifestyle changes and protectionary measures as your primary tool to prevent premature aging for a few reasons.
First, medical interventions have a limited effect, and often require follow up treatments. In addition, maintaining the positive results of medical interventions likely requires lifestyle change anyway.
After all, undergoing medical interventions without changing the underlying lifestyle or environmental factors that caused premature aging in the first place is only a short-term solution.
The second reason we recommend first working with protective measures is that many of these techniques and strategies don’t just benefit your skin and hair. In fact, many have lasting, profound benefits to your overall health.
How to Stop Premature Aging Naturally
We’ll touch on a few anti-aging practices that you can adopt right now to keep your skin, hair, and body in top shape for the years to come.
Take Skincare Seriously
One of the most agreed upon factors when keeping a youthful appearance as you get older is taking care of your skin, which makes sense. Skin is the barrier between your body and the outside world, and as a result is constantly subject to the elements.
Taking care to use moisturizers and lotions to adapt to your environment (along with general benefits of these medicines like fighting free radicals and rejuvenating elastin) can be a major step to avoid wrinkling, discoloration, fine lines, and dry skin.
Depending on the heat, cold, dryness, or humidity where you live, healthy skin may require different types of protection, so taking the time to discuss with a dermatologist can be an excellent step towards maintaining healthy, beautiful skin.
Reduce Your Sun Exposure
However, it’s important to remember that the sun’s UV rays are still a form of radiation, and prolonged, unprotected exposure to the sun can be dangerous, and cause visible aging. In fact, sunburn is actually your skin cells committing suicide to avoid causing skin cancer.
To avoid sun-induced aging and other complications, always remember to use broad-spectrum SPF sunscreen (we recommend at least SPF 30) when you’re going to be in the sun for any extended period of time.
Don't Underestimate The Power of Retinoids
Retinoids, which include vitamin A, are active molecules that promote the health and creation of skin cells. In fact, retinoids (including vitamin A, retinol and other over-the-counter medicines), were the first substances approved by the FDA for anti-aging and anti-wrinkle properties.
It’s for this reason, and for the fact that retinol provides anti-aging effects with negligible side effects that retinoids are found in many common skincare products, and are often recommended by dermatologists.
Kick the Smoking (and Drinking) Habits
We’re not in the business of telling people how to live their lives, but the research is clear when it comes to smoking and drinking alcohol.
Along with the wide variety of different risks associated with excessive smoking and drinking (including lung disease, heart disease, liver disease, restricted blood vessels and more), there is a distinct correlation between heavier smoking and more drinking and premature aging.
Eat a Well-Balanced Diet Containing Lots of Plants
A well-balanced diet is one of the most powerful strategies to not only combat external aging, but also ensure a high quality of life, boost your immune system, and reduce risk for both acute and chronic disease in the long run.
And for the greatest benefit not just to your skin, but to your health in general, the research points to a low-fat, plant-based, whole-food diet that’s high in whole carbohydrates (veggies) for a VAST number of reasons
Hydrate, Hydrate, and Hydrate Some More
Hydration is another one of those things that you probably knew you should be doing already, but the research is especially clear when it comes to skin hydration and anti-aging. Consistent, sufficient fluid intake leads to healthier skin. Consistent dehydration can be disastrous for skin.
All the more reason to stay on top of drinking water!
Make Exercise a Part of Your Daily Routine
The research is overwhelming when it comes to exercise: it’s just good for you, full stop.
The Final Word
When it comes down to it, the key to premature aging is actually quite simple: take protective measures like moisturizers/sunscreen and keep your body healthy, and your skin and hair will reflect that health.
As we touch on above, there are many factors to take into consideration to help slow premature aging, but there’s one change in particular that we recommend as a pretty fantastic first step.
Amla is one of the world’s most powerful superfoods, containing more vitamin C and antioxidants per weight than any other whole food. In addition, it contains a wide variety of other powerful nutrients with medicinal value.
There’s a reason that amla has been foundational in Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years, where it’s been prescribed for anti-aging (and dozens of other ailments). However, compared to some other folk remedies, the benefits of amla are backed up by a large and still growing body of evidence.
The research has shown that amla has benefits when it comes to reducing oxidative stress, lowering blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood glucose, and even aiding hair and skin health, making it an excellent start to a larger strategy of improving your health and aging.
And to help you try out these benefits for yourself, we’re offering your first batch entirely risk free. If you don’t like it, you can let us know, and we’ll give you your money back. So feel free to try it yourself!
Amla Green has strict guidelines for scientific references in our articles, and we rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, governmental organizations, and reputable medical organizations. We do our best to avoid using non evidence-based references in all articles. The references in this article are listed below.
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Page Medically Reviewed and Edited by
Cyrus Khambatta, PhD
Cyrus Khambatta, PhD, is a cofounder of Mastering Diabetes and Amla Green is an internationally recognized nutrition and fitness coach who has been living with type 1 diabetes since 2002. Using an evidence-based approach to nutrition and fitness, he first reduced his own insulin usage by more than 40%, and has educated thousands of people with all forms of diabetes how to reverse insulin resistance using food as medicine. Cyrus earned a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford University in 2003, then earned a PhD in Nutritional Biochemistry from the University of California at Berkeley in 2012. He is the co-host of the annual Mastering Diabetes Online Summit, a featured speaker at the Plant-Based Nutrition and Healthcare Conference (PBNHC), the American College of Lifestyle Medicine (ACLM) Conference, Plant Stock, and has been featured on Forks Over Knives, NPR, PBS, KQED, Fast Company, and is the author of the upcoming book Mastering Diabetes.
- Cyrus Khambatta