Anti-aging: Tips and tricks to looking younger

Learn what you can do to maintain that youthful glow

Chocolate wards off wrinkles. Silky salmon smoothes fine lines. Sadly, these anti-aging claims are too good to be true. “There’s no medical evidence to suggest that eating certain foods prevents your skin from aging,” says Dr. Ron Vender, an assistant clinical professor of medicine at McMaster University’s dermatology division. But don’t despair—research proves there are many ways to boost your general health that will also improve the state of your skin. Here’s what you need to know to keep your skin supple and young-looking:

From the inside out
Foods and supplements packed with beta-carotene, vitamin A and C have been under the microscope for their anti-aging skin effects. But the jury is still out on whether or not they really work. “The only thing proven to promote healthy skin is a well-balanced nutritionally sound diet,” says Dr. David Zloty, a clinical assistant professor of dermatology at University of British Columbia. A balanced diet with vitamin C, copper and iron will preserve your body’s collagen—the substance that holds tissue, cartilage and bones in place. Likewise, if your body lacks these nutrients your skin will suffer. For that reason, Dr. Zloty cautions people on restrictive diets. “Super low-calorie diets cause dry, fragile skin that cracks,” he says.

Some habits die hard
Bottom line: there are two habits that accelerate aging: smoking and tanning. “Smoking causes wrinkles because the skin heals poorly—it damages DNA,” says Dr. Vender. Similarly, sun exposure—whether from tanning salons or unprotected outdoor activity—is very hard on skin. Tanning salons compromise your skin’s health by exposing it to UVA; while the sun leaves skin vulnerable to both UVA and UVB rays. The best defense: lather on an SPF 30 broad spectrum sunscreen with a UVA blocking component (which protects against both types of rays) if you’re going outside. “If it’s Saturday and you’re dashing from mall to mall, the sunscreen in your moisturizer is probably enough,” says Dr. Zloty.

Rich and creamy
With the multitude of miracle products on the market, shopping for a skincare system can be confusing. “The most effective topical anti-aging creams contain Tretinoin,” says Dr. Zloty. Tretinoin, short for trans-retinoic acid, is found on product labels under aliases such as Retin A, Renova and Rejuva. “The changes aren’t dramatic, but they’re there,” says Dr. Zloty. Tretinoin-based products are usually available by prescription only, so speak with your doctor about whether they’re right for you.

On the shelf, look for products with Retinol—but pay attention to how they’re packaged. “Retinol is a very unstable molecule broken down by exposure to light and air. Very few companies formulate it well enough to have efficacy when placed on the skin,” says Dr. Zloty. Look for products in small tubes with narrow dispensers to reduce its exposure to light and air.

The finishing touch
Skip Britney’s glittering look and avoid products that sparkle because they will highlight wrinkles, says Eddie Maleterre, a Montreal-based makeup artist with L’Oréal. “Choose powdery or matte textures and look for clear or pastel colours rather than heavy ones on eyes, cheeks and lips,” he says. If you’re a fan all things sparkly, be selective—sweep them under your eyebrows and the apples of your cheeks. “For mature skin, sometimes no powder is necessary,” he says.