By Candice Betty
Are you interested in slowing your body’s aging process as much as you can?
If you like anti-aging skincare, then you’ll want to know what “Inflammaging” is and how it could be making your anti-aging skincare products less effective.
The good news is that you do have some degree of control over inflammation and the aging processes. I’ve had Rosacea since my late 20’s, and I’m passionate about reducing inflammation. That’s why I started my own natural skincare company – to share what worked for me to reduce my own redness and inflammation.
In this article, you’ll learn how the inflammatory process is linked to the process of aging, and what you can do to protect your skin from Inflammaging.
We’ll discuss how you can prevent premature aging in your own body. Continue reading to get ten actionable steps you can take to start protecting your skin from Inflammaging today.
What is Inflammaging?
By now, I’m sure you’re anxious to know exactly what Inflammaging refers to. The term Inflammaging is the link between chronic stress, low levels of inflammation, and aging. More specifically, it’s the relationship between how your body, particularly your immune system, reacts to stressors as you age.
Why is Inflammaging Important in Skincare?
As we age, our immune systems weaken, and we’re less able to regulate our bodies’ inflammatory responses. This can leave us more susceptible to sustained or chronic low levels of inflammation.
The skin is our body’s largest organ. It is also the most visible organ, so it is the easiest to see signs of aging and inflammation on. Inflammation on the skin can show up as Eczema, acne, persistent redness, Rosacea, reactivity to products, and increased skin sensitivity.
If your skin’s acid mantle or microbiome is out of balance, the common skin bacteria Propionibacterium acnes can cause inflammation. Certain ingredients in personal care products and cosmetics can contribute to inflammation if your body is sensitive to them.
How Does Inflammation Contribute to Aging?
Inflammation is the body’s way of protecting itself from illness, injury, or stress. The body’s immune system uses inflammation to protect the body from harmful substances, germs, and changes within the body that could cause disease.
When your body is using resources to protect you by increasing the inflammatory process, this reduces the amount of energy and time your skin cells can spend on maintenance activities.
These are activities like creating fresh skin cells, collagen, elastin, and key structural proteins. Your skin constantly regenerates these tiny structures to keep it looking youthful and radiant. Without these processes, our skin starts to show signs of aging.
We can widen our lens and see that each type of cell in the body, and each of the body’s systems, suffers when inflammation is taking up resources that would otherwise be used for maintenance in that area.
As we age, our bodies are less able to control the inflammation response, and more resources are diverted toward it. This leaves less time and energy for the body’s cells to renew themselves. Then we start to see aging throughout the body.
What causes low levels of chronic inflammation?
Your level of inflammation increases when you have a chronic illness or your body is under continual stress. Physical stress like not getting enough sleep and emotional stress both contribute to low levels of sustained inflammation.
Sources of inflammation are everywhere in our environment. If you live in a city, you’re likely exposed to pollution in the air. Free radicals in our environment lead to increased oxidative stress in our bodies. Smoking cigarettes & marijuana adds to this. Even household products and other chemicals in our environment can add to chronic inflammation.
If your diet contains inflammatory foods, such as processed foods and added sugars, these will contribute to chronic inflammation. Alcohol contributes to inflammation by impairing the gut and liver.
When to Start Preventing Inflammaging
It can be quite difficult to stay healthy and look our best as we age. Our skin is the largest organ of our body, and it is constantly being attacked by the elements. Excess sun exposure, pollution, stress, and the aging process all can contribute to a loss of healthy and youthful skin. The good news is that if you develop good habits when you’re young, you can protect your skin and help prevent the signs of aging.
When you’re in your 20s or earlier, start with using a moisturizer and sunscreen every day. These two products help to prevent aging of the skin by protecting it from UV rays and keeping it hydrated and supple. When you’re in your 20s, you don’t need to purchase an anti-wrinkle cream specifically. Look for skincare products that have active ingredients that help to brighten and plump the skin.
The American Academy of Dermatologists (AAD) recommends that people start using an effective anti-aging skincare routine in their 40s. This is the time to seek out an anti-aging moisturizer and eye cream. Remember to keep using your sunscreen daily to prevent age spots and additional wrinkles.
How to Protect Your Skin from Inflammaging
Now that we know that Inflammaging is caused by inflammation, we can take a look at the environmental triggers and lifestyle factors that may be causing us to show signs of premature aging.
To combat Inflammaging, you need to protect and repair your skin daily – and this begins with preventing it from inflammation in the first place. For this reason, the first step to preventing Inflammaging is to avoid factors that are adding to the damage.
We’ll cover these next in our ten actionable steps you can take to start protecting your skin from Inflammaging.
- Avoid UV light – use sunscreen daily: Do you sit next to a window in your office? Did you know that UV rays go right through glass? And through clouds? Wearing sunscreen every day is THE most important habit to protect your skin from photo-aging. Make sure you always wear sunscreen because UV light exposure increases inflammation and promotes aging of the skin.
- One of the first anti-inflammaging habits you could implement in the morning is to apply a physical sunscreen of 30+ on your face. This will help to protect the delicate skin on your face from accumulating UV radiation year after year.
- Eat an anti-inflammatory diet
- Avoid sugar and processed foods: Sugar promotes inflammation in the body and processed foods can alter the bacteria that live in our gut, changing our immune system in a way that can lead to inflammation. These foods are everywhere, so start by cutting back on a few of these foods and replacing them with healthier alternatives.
- Choose Anti-inflammatory foods: Start including more anti-inflammatory foods into your diet, and learn which foods in your grocery store are anti-inflammatory. Include more foods that are rich in antioxidants and fiber, such as a wide variety of rainbow of colored fruit and vegetables, fatty fish, nuts, and seeds. Include foods that are high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, sardines, chia seeds, and flaxseeds, as well as polyphenols, such as green tea, berries, coffee, and dark chocolate.
- Minimize stress: As we discussed, stress affects your immune system and increases inflammation. As we age, we’re less able to regulate our body’s inflammatory response. Choose your favorite active stress reduction techniques, such as progressive muscle relaxation, yoga, or walking, and take time each day to unwind.
- Work on better mental health: Learning to handle difficult emotions and seeing them as temporary feelings that pass through our consciousness can greatly contribute to overall health. Learn more about how the mind and body are connected. Write in a journal, meditate, see a counselor, or talk with supportive friends to help your body regulate inflammation better.
- Minimize alcohol consumption: Alcohol adds to chronic inflammation by impairing gut and liver functions. Chronic use also ups inflammation by impairing multi-organ interactions, or how the nervous system, immune system, and endocrine system work together.
- Avoid smoking and being around smoke: Cigarette smoke promotes chronic inflammation and so does marijuana smoke. Anything you smoke is going to produce free radicals that you’re inhaling directly. This wreaks havoc on your whole body, including your skin.
- Prioritize sleep: Staying up late can disrupt circadian rhythms. Loss of sleep can impact inflammatory mediators. Start a nighttime routine for better quality sleep, and shut off screens one hour before bedtime.
- Exercise regularly: Exercise improves blood circulation, which is important for flushing out toxins and cellular waste products, as well as promoting a healing environment within your body.
- Supplement with adaptogens: Certain herbs and mushrooms, such as ashwagandha, can help your body adapt to stress and changes. Adaptogens can also help slow the aging process by reducing oxidative stress in the body and neutralizing free radicals.
- Use skincare products to prevent Inflammaging: Skincare products with ingredients that calm inflammation also commonly have anti-aging properties.
- Cleanse: Twice a day, use a detoxifying facial cleanser to wash away excess sebum, dirt, and pollutants.
- Serum: Every morning, use an antioxidant serum to nourish the skin and protect it from premature aging during the day.
- Moisturize: In the evening, use a rich anti-aging moisturizer to help renew & replenish your skin while you sleep.
As you can tell, I’m passionate about reducing inflammation. When I started Organic Radiance Skincare, I created a moisturizer to reduce my own redness and inflammation and called it Herbe Sois Calming Moisturizer. It’s formulated to help prevent Inflammaging, and is still our most popular product today!
Our new antioxidant serum, The Ultimate Cocktail Facial Serum, contains Helichrysum italicum to protect your skin from free radicals and Inflammaging. The cleanser, Purifying Black Facewash, binds impurities with activated charcoal without over-drying sensitive skin. These are the three products that I use to prevent Inflammaging.
As we’ve discussed, Inflammaging is the link between chronic stress, inflammation, and aging. It’s the relationship between how your body, specifically your immune system, reacts to stressors as you age.
Stress decreases the skin’s resources for maintenance activities, like producing collagen, which can then cause the skin to show signs of aging.
We’ve covered ten actions you can take to help your body regulate the inflammatory response and Inflammaging. Choose the one that is the most meaningful to you and start incorporating it into your lifestyle. Bookmark this page to refer back to as you incorporate more healthy habits to reduce Inflammaging in your skin.
Don’t miss out on my new articles… Enter your email below to receive updates and ask me questions. Check out my YouTube channel for more skincare science and tips.
- HOW TO SELECT ANTI-AGING SKIN CARE PRODUCTS. American Academy of Dermatologists (AAD). https://www.aad.org/public/everyday-care/skin-care-secrets/anti-aging/selecting-anti-aging-products
- SKIN CARE IN YOUR 40S AND 50S. https://www.aad.org/public/everyday-care/skin-care-basics/care/skin-care-in-your-40s-and-50s
- Laura Marinelli, PhD. September 21, 2020. Inflammaging: The hidden link between inflammation and aging.
- 2000 Jun. C Franceschi, et al. Ann N Y Acad Sci. Inflamm-aging. An evolutionary perspective on immunosenescence. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10911963/
- Frances R Henshaw, et al. 2021 Apr 28. Cannabis Cannabinoid Res. The Effects of Cannabinoids on Pro- and Anti-Inflammatory Cytokines: A Systematic Review of In Vivo Studies. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33998900/
- Krista Conger. April 29, 2022. Marijuana linked to heart disease; supplement may mitigate risk, study reports. https://med.stanford.edu/news/all-news/2022/04/marijuana-heart-disease.html
- H Joe Wang, et al. 2010 Mar 21 Alcohol, inflammation, and gut-liver-brain interactions in tissue damage and disease development. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2842521/
- Janet M. Mullington, Ph.D., et al. 2013 Jan 18. Sleep Loss and Inflammation. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3548567/
- L L Hruza . J Invest Dermatol. 1993 Jan. Mechanisms of UV-induced inflammation. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8423392/