6 Things That Age Your Skin Prematurely — And How to Avoid Them
We all want younger-looking skin. Can you blame us? Wrinkles aren’t exactly the best complement to a look. Alas, growing older is a simple fact of life. Sooner or later, we’re all going to bid farewell to our youth and those signs will show on our skin. While we can’t control intrinsic aging—blame your genes for that!—we can influence extrinsic aging, the aging that occurs as a result of our environment and lifestyle choices. With a few preventative actions, we can help with the appearance of the signs of extrinsic aging. Ahead, we share six factors that can cause our skin to age prematurely. Avoid them if you can or, at the very least, keep them in mind as you slap on your anti-wrinkle creams day in and day out.
Growing older is a fact of life and sooner or later, signs of aging will start to show on our skin. While we can’t control intrinsic aging (that’s all in your genes), we can influence extrinsic aging — the aging that occurs as a result of our environment and lifestyle choices. While preventative skin-care like using anti-wrinkle creams and serums can help skin to look younger, there are environmental factors that can impact your skin, too. We’ve rounded them up ahead, so you can try to avoid them.
Skin Aggressor #1: UV Rays
This one comes as no surprise — sun damage is one of the leading causes of wrinkles and premature skin aging. If you spend the majority of summer basking in the sun’s rays without protection, you’re not doing your skin any favors. Whether you’re spending a day at the beach or sitting in front of your computer, SPF is crucial. There are a few things you can do to help this. To start, you can seek shade wherever possible, cover up with protective clothing and use broad-spectrum SPF 15 or higher every day — a combo of all three would be most ideal. Be sure to apply SPF to all areas of skin not covered by clothing, regardless of the weather forecast.
Skin Aggressor #2: Smoking
Smoking damages your skin’s natural collagen and elastin, thereby it can result in loose, sagging skin. It is also known to cause “smoker’s face” as detailed by the Mayo Clinic; which is characterized by a dull, sallow and dry-looking complexion. These side effects may be hard for you to see initially, but the longer and more frequently you smoke, the more skin wrinkling you’re likely to have. The best way to protect your skin and decrease your chances for premature aging is to stop. If you’re a non-smoker but live in close quarters with someone who does, keep in mind that the side effects of secondhand smoke can be damaging to your health and skin, as well.
Skin Aggressor #3: Repeated Facial Expressions
Frowning, raising your eyebrows, squinting and pursing your lips is common, however, extreme use of facial muscles can create exaggerated expression lines on the face and cause us to look older. When you make a facial expression, you contract the underlying muscles, and if you repeatedly contract the same muscles for many years, these lines can become permanent. You don’t have to boycott smiling, but if you tend to furrow your brow or raise your forehead muscles, do your best to lessen it when possible.
Skin Aggressor #4: Lack of Sleep
It’s called beauty sleep for a reason. Lack of sleep can accelerate the aging process because it’s during deep sleep that your skin goes through a process of self-repair. To make things worse, constant all-nighters can leave your skin looking dull and lifeless, with under-eye bags, circles and puffiness making any pre-existing wrinkles or crow’s feet look more visible. To avoid this, make sure you’re getting the recommended number of hours each night, and try to maintain a regular sleep schedule.
Skin Aggressor #5: Stress
Stress can lead to elevated levels of cortisol which can hurt our skin’s quality and accelerate various aging processes. When you’re stressed, your skin can reflect that and most likely won’t look as healthy and radiant. To combat this, try to take a zen moment whenever you can — take deep breaths, talk to a counselor, exercise — anything you can do to decompress.
Skin Aggressor #6: Alcohol
While an occasional drink or two won’t do much to your skin, repeated heavy drinking can dehydrate the skin and damage surface cells. If you do drink, try to avoid dehydration by having a large glass of water for every glass of alcohol you consume.