Does Being Skinny Make You Look Younger​​​?

Youthful looks and a cute butt – this is what nearly all of us long to have, am I right? I mean, the beauty and fitness industry wouldn’t have such huge markets otherwise.

So, what’s the deal here? Does being skinny make you look younger?

Long-story-short, it probably doesn’t. According to research, losing fat around your face can greatly affect the mechanical stability of your skin which may lead to you looking older. Hence, the coining of the term ‘diet face’.

I say probably because this isn’t always the case for everyone. Experts believe that this generally happens to women (and quite possibly men) who are over and around 40 years old. So, when you’re younger? Losing weight probably helps.


Does Being Skinny Make You Look Younger​​​?

The question is: why? 

That’s where the long answer comes in. To start, let me catch you up on a few basics:

What is diet face?

It’s basically when you lose weight, look at yourself in the mirror, and you find yourself saying, “I lost weight now my face looks older.”

This happens partly because when we lose weight, we also lose the fat pads around our cheeks and face. But, it’s also because as we get older, a study says that the collagen content and the adhesion’s between our fat and skin deteriorate which then alters the structure of our skin. Pair that with less volume (i.e. less fat), and now you’ve got loose skin in the form of wrinkles and sags around your face and neck.

Separate studies published by Dermatol Surgery also says that the most dramatic of these changes happen between 30-60 years old for both men and

How to avoid diet face

The obvious answer here is to stay at a healthy weight all throughout your life. This prevents you from having to lose weight in the first place. So, even if your collagen and skin-to-fat adhesions degenerate over time, you’d still have just the right amount of skin to keep you looking young.

However, those circumstances are unrealistic for most people as aging typically also comes with weight gain.

With that said, here are a few tips on how to lose weight without looking older:

Gradually lose weight

The NHS and many others say that the safe rate to lose weight is 1-2 lbs per week. This equates to 4-8 lbs every month. Not only is this both safer and more sustainable over time, but this also gives the proteins in your skin (i.e. collagen and elastin) more time to pull your skin back. Thus, preventing, if not reducing the amount of sagging skin.

This is particularly crucial if you’re older or if you’ve held on to your extra weight for quite some time as the fibers in your skin are more than likely damaged from being chronically stretched.

Don’t go below your normal BMI

Let me ask you this: does losing weight make you look better?

It can be a matter of personal opinion but when it comes to both your face and body, losing excess weight generally makes you look better. However, you also don’t want to be too skinny.

Particularly for your face, going below your normal BMI may mean losing too much of the fat pads that give your face its plump, youthful look.

If you want to know where you stand in the BMI scale, the National Institute of Health has a calculator that you can bookmark and go back to every now and then to make sure you’re within the normal range.

Get your diet right

I probably don’t need to tell you this but a healthy person generally looks better than someone who’s sickly, and that’s because your overall health also affects how your skin looks.

That being said, proper nutrition is a key part of how to lose weight without looking older.

A study from Dermato Endocrinology on the link between nutrition and skin aging specifically mentions these nutrients:

Vitamin C and E

Both these vitamins act synergistically. Vitamin C helps preserve vitamin E whereas vitamin E helps with collagen. Both are also powerful antioxidants that hunt down free radicals that may damage skin integrity.

These vitamins can be found in fruits and vegetables including citrus fruits and vegetable oils.

Vitamin A and beta carotene (carotenoids)

Like the previous vitamins, carotenoids and its derivatives (e.g. vitamin A, beta carotene) are powerful antioxidants that promote skin health. Other notable carotenoids include astaxanthin, lycopene, and retinol.

These nutrients and compounds help protect your skin from UV damage which, in turn, reduces asking sagging and wrinkling.

They can be found naturally in carrots, tomatoes, watermelon, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, salmon, trout, crustaceans, milk, cheese, and eggs.

Vitamin D

Your skin is the main site where your body produces biologically active vitamin D3. Consequently, the vitamin also protects your skin from harmful UVB exposure which has been found to damage skin.

However, the processing where your skin converts sunshine to vitamin D gets less efficient with age. Not only does this increase your risk of vitamin D deficiency but also reduces the protective properties of the vitamin.

The NHS names fatty fish, red meat, liver, and eggs as good natural sources of vitamin D. Fortified foods are an option here, too.

Unsaturated fatty acids

Unsaturated fatty acids, including both poly- and monounsaturated fatty acids, have long been associated as “healthy fat”. Research from The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology also says that these fatty acids have several skin-protective properties, including:

  • Protection against UVB damage
  • Reduction of skin dryness and atrophy, and
  • Reduction of oxidative stress and inflammation

Sunscreen and moisturizers go a long way

While we’re on the topic of how different nutrients help protect your skin from UVB damage, sunscreen and moisturizers do that, too.

The Skin Cancer Foundation even says that broad-spectrum sunscreen protects against both UVB and UVA. This is important because UVA is associated more with skin aging compared to UVB.

For the average person, choose a sunscreen that’s at least SPF 15. If you spend more time in the sun though (e.g. workers and athletes who spend more time outdoors), SPF 30 should be your minimum.

Now, while sunscreen helps protect your skin, moisturizers help repair it.

According to The University of Tennessee Medical Center, your face is one of the few areas of your body that’s most sensitive. Your face also sheds more skin cells than most other parts of your body and it needs moisture to repair itself.

Moisturizers help prevent your skin from drying out, thus promoting repair.

Stay hydrated

Speaking of moisture…

Opinions about skin health and water intake are fairly divided. There’s a group that says drinking more water doesn’t help while there’s another that says it does. So, which is it?

The results of research on how water affects skin hydration and biomechanics suggest that the latter – drinking more water – may indeed help.

In particular, increased water intake had a positive effect on the skin physiology of people who drank enough water already as well as those who didn’t drink enough. However, the effects were more evident with the latter group.

Avoid smoking

A study from Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery shows that smoking causes the following changes to the skin on your face:

  • Upper eyelid redundancy
  • Lower lid and malar bags
  • Nasolabial folds
  • Wrinkles on upper and lower lips
  • Jowls

(Also, there have been differences observed in the forehead and glabellar wrinkles, crow’s feet, lower lip lines, and lower lip hyperpigmentation between smokers and non-smokers but the study deemed them “statistically insignificant”.)

I know it can be a little too science-y for some of y’all but, in a nutshell, smoking is going to make you look older than you really are because it adds folds and wrinkles.

According to the MayoClinic, this happens because several of the chemicals in tobacco smoke damages both collagen and elastin, leading to weaker and less elastic skin. Moreover, cigarette smoking has long been associated with impaired blood flow which, in turn, reduces nutrient distribution which your face – and the rest of your body – needs.

Now that we’ve discussed a few ways on how to avoid wrinkles when losing weight, let me address the opposite question:

Should you gain weight to look younger?

“…and if losing too much weight can make you look older, does gaining weight reduce wrinkles?”

First of all, yes, gaining weight may make you look younger in part because you add volume under your skin which sort of flattens out your wrinkles.

Think of this as sort of like a balloon. A fully inflated balloon looks smooth, right? But take the air out of it and it becomes saggy and wrinkly because it loses volume after being stretched out. Inflate the balloon again and, voila! Smooth again.

The skin on your face kind of works the same way. If you look older after losing weight, gaining some of those fats back will make wrinkles less obvious.

However, this should not be an excuse to tolerate obesity. While it can make wrinkles less visible, the CDC says carrying excess weight is also associated with high blood pressure, abnormal lipid levels, diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, and several other illnesses that can affect your quality of life.

If you have the dreaded diet face now and are planning on gaining weight, make sure to only stay within your normal BMI.

On a related subject, let’s talk about how you can add more volume to your face.

How to plump face after weight loss

First of all, you can’t just choose where to add or subtract fat. It’s unfortunate but if you were to make your face plumper, you’d have to live with having the rest of your body gain more weight as well. (Unless, of course, you opt for surgery but I won’t be talking about that here.)

Again, this circles back to not going above or below your healthy BMI when managing your weight. As long as you stay within that range, you generally will neither be too thin nor too fat.

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