Ex Factors: Exposure to sun, facial expressions and other extrinsic elements of aging that account for 80 percent of your appearance and are greatly under your control.

old_young-faceThe “nature versus nurture” debate might be one of the oldest in psychology, but when it comes to skin, no discourse is necessary.

Intrinsic, genetic “who you are”— components of aging account for just 20 percent of your skin’s visible aging changes. On the other hand, “ex factors”—or extrinsic, “what you do” elements—account for 80 percent of your appearance. Sunlight, smoking, sleep positions, stress, diet, and alcohol are all at the top of the “ex list.”

Great skin has more to do with what you do to it than with what you’ve been given. But if you’re not convinced, a study of identical twins by researchers from King’s College London provides ample evidence. Extracting DNA samples from volunteers, researchers discovered that those who vigorously exercised three hours a week were biologically nine years younger than those who exercised fewer than 15 minutes weekly. Amazingly, even 90 minutes of exercise per week reduced biological age by four years.

aging timeline

Because identical twins share the same genetic makeup, it was previously believed they would age in exactly the same way. However, this study demonstrated that a twin enjoying a lifestyle of regular exercise, minimal sun exposure, a healthy diet, limited alcohol consumption and no smoking aged noticeably better than her twin who made poorer lifestyle choices. The study also proved that she would not only look better but also outlive her sister.

While aging is inevitable, your choices and behaviors around “ex factors” greatly influence how you look at each birthday. Whatever your age, it’s never too soon or too late to start incorporating good habits. By creating positive change today, your skin won’t have to pay the price later.

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