6 Things That Can Age Your Skin Prematurely
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.
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…let’s just put it that way. What’s more, age spots and discolored marks can appear more pronounced after sun exposure.
What to Do: Whether spending a day at the beach or just going for a brisk jog, sun protection is crucial. There are a few ways you could do this. You can seek shade wherever possible, cover up with protective clothing, and/or use broad-spectrum SPF 15 or higher every day. (A combo of the three would be most ideal!) Be sure to apply SPF to all areas of skin not covered by clothing—regardless of the weather forecast.
Smoking damages your skin’s natural collagen and elastin, thereby it can result in loose, sagging skin. Lighting up is also known to cause “smoker’s face” as detailed by the Mayo Clinic; this 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.
What to Do: This may not be what you want to hear if you’re a smoker, but the best way to protect your skin and decrease your chances for premature skin aging is to quit—plain and simple. If you’re a non-smoker but live in close quarters with a smoker, keep in mind that the side effects of second hand smoke can be damaging to your health and skin as well.
3. Repeated Facial Expressions
Frowning, raising your eyebrows, squinting, pursing your lips—these repetitive facial movements are so common for many people. However, extreme use of facial muscles can create exaggerated expression lines on the face that can cause us to look older than we actually are. According to the AAD, when you make a facial expressions, you contract the underlying muscles. If you repeatedly contract the same muscles for many years, these lines can become permanent.
What to Do: You don’t have to boycott smiling, but if you have a tendency to furrow your brow or raise your forehead muscles, do your best to lessen it when possible. Also, wearing sunglasses can help avoid squinting when the sun is shining on your face.
4. Lack of Sleep
It’s called beauty sleep for a reason. Lack of sleep can accelerate the aging process since it’s during deep sleep that your skin goes through a process of self repair. What’s more, constant all-nighters can leave your skin looking dull and lifeless, with under-eye bags, circles, and puffiness making any preexisting wrinkles or crow’s feet look more visible.
What to Do: Make sure you’re getting the recommended number of hours each night, and don’t fall victim to any poor sleeping habits.
Stress can lead to elevated levels of cortisol, which can hurt our skin’s quality and accelerate various aging processes. When you’re stressed, you feel run down and your skin can reflect that. It likely won’t look as healthy and radiant.
What to Do: Eliminate stress in your life. Easier said than done, sure, but try your best. Opt for a zen moment whenever you can, take deep breaths, talk to a counselor, exercise—anything you can do to decompress can be helpful.
You may enjoy drinking into the night with your buddies, but we’re willing to bet you won’t be so thrilled about skin appearance side effects of excessive alcohol consumption. Alcohol can dehydrate the skin and, over time, damage surface cells. This can make us appear older.
What to Do: Try not to go overboard. If you must drink, reach for a glass of red wine that boasts the antioxidant resveratrol. To help avoid dehydration, consume one tall glass of water for every glass of alcohol you consume and try to limit your consumption.