“Collagen and elastin, the skin’s support structures, decrease as you age, as does the amount of fat,” explains Alan Dattner, M.D., a holistic dermatologist in New York City and a Natural Health advisory board member. Lots of time spent in the sun breaks down collagen and elastin even more. The result: lines and wrinkles on your face, décolleté, neck, and hands.
WHAT TO DO
• Wear sunscreen of at least SPF 15 every day to prevent future damage. Just make sure the cream you choose contains avobenzone, mexoryl, or zinc oxide; they’re the only sunscreens that block UVA light, the wavelength that is associated with aging.
• Choose products with retinol (vitamin A), a milder, over-the-counter version of prescription Retin-A. “Years of scientific data prove retinoids improve wrinkles by turning over the top layers of skin and building collagen,” says Ranella Hirsch, M.D., vice president of the American Society of Cosmetic Dermatology and Aesthetic Surgery. Use retinol at night (sunlight can cause it to break down) and always wear sunscreen (retinoids can make skin more sun sensitive). Start out with a low strength every other day and slowly increase.
• Peptides (groups of amino acids) are believed to boost collagen production. “They also inhibit the enzymesprevent future wrinkles,” says Dattner.
• Antioxidants like vitamins A, C, and E; green tea; grapeseed extract; and soy are believed to absorb line-causing free radicals, which crop up when your skin is exposed to sun and pollution. Vitamin C and soy can also increase collagen production.
• Keep skin hydrated. Moisturizing can temporarily plump wrinkles up so they look less noticeable. For best results, always apply lotion or cream to damp skin, which will help seal in moisture and keep wrinkles at bay.