I can remember the first time, in my 30s, I looked in the mirror and saw a few creases near my eyes. "Could those be signs of aging already?" I wondered. Some years later, I was dismayed to notice that those creases were turning into wrinkles. How did that happen?

Some may say these little marks add character and personality to a face, while others declare them a necessary, natural, graceful sign of the aging process. Well, I'm not sure how great those furrows are myself. I'm someone who tries my best to stay healthy, and of course, youthful. Now that I'm older, I'm even more concerned with preventing an increase in those relentless lines and wrinkles. If you're like me and would rather try to keep your youthful appearance as long as you can, please read on.

What's a wrinkle anyway?
Skin wrinkles with age because, as time passes, our bodies can't fully repair damage to the cells that provide skin strength and resilience. The underlayer of our skin is comprised of proteins and collagen that give skin elasticity, and these elements decline as we age. The sun, environmental assaults, and a less-than-optimal diet add to the free-radical damage that causes proteins and collagen to break down--while preventing them from being replaced quickly and with the right structure. Wrinkling and sagging are an unfortunate result. Sigh.

The good news: We can intervene with some to-the-rescue measures today to slow down the skin aging process.

Dos and don'ts to preserve youthful-looking skin right now
- Avoid the sun, except for early or late in the day for a few minutes, depending on where you live. (Sun is the #1 cause of wrinkles and leathery skin.)
- Are you a driver? Pay special attention to the left side of your face since it's more exposed to the sun. Wear sunscreen.
- Don't smoke. Smoking adds wrinkles and lip lines and contributes to thinner skin--and that's all on top of the other host of health problems caused by this dangerous habit.
- Get enough sleep. Otherwise, your body produces the stress hormone cortisol that breaks down skin cells.
- Sleep on your back. Give up front or side sleeping to reduce lines and wrinkles caused by your pillow.
- Squinting? Don't. That kind of repetitive facial movement can cause wrinkles to form--wrinkles that will add to the appearance of aging far more than glasses would.
- Treat your skin with TLC. Don't over-dry or irritate your face with harsh cleansers or hot water, or over- or under-clean away makeup.

Those are the basics. Ready for the big guns? Here are some more important steps you can begin today for glowing, radiant skin.

Consider a food-based detoxification.
Spring is the ideal time for self-renewal. Because your skin serves as the barrier between your body and a toxic environment, I suggest a week-long, easy-to-follow program that eliminates the most damaging foods while adding back beneficial nutrients to help your body release stored toxins.

Change to organic, chemical-free skin-care products.
Not only do toxins contribute to allergic reactions, but harmful chemicals are also absorbed through your skin and add to the burden of the skin's natural detoxification and protection duties. New to try as a moisturizer: organic coconut oil.

Reduce digestive distress, candida, and inflammation.
Your skin can be a reflection of internal metabolic and absorption issues, and these issues in turn slow your skin's ability to protect, excrete, and absorb. Inquire about probiotics, repair and healing supplements, and a diet designed to help your skin stay clear and healthy--including free from acne and eczema.

Where to start? With small changes. Pick out just one or two things mentioned above that you can do today to start treating your skin to better health. And then act--no, not later, but right now. Remember, your best opportunity for preventing the effects of aging is before damage has gotten serious.

Author's Bio: 

Roberta Roberts Mittman, L.Ac., Dipl.Ac., M.S., is a nutritional and lifestyle consultant, holistic mindset mentor, and nationally board-certified acupuncturist. Using natural, drug-free techniques, Roberta opens the door to complete mind-body health. Roberta's goal is not only to relieve patients' illness and discomfort, but to help them set realistic goals for physical and mental preventative care and overall wellness. Roberta believes in empowering individuals to be their own best healers.