Who doesn’t want to look young and beautiful? Many of us strive to have plump, taut skin and a youthful glow. Alas, some of our less-than-healthy habits could be undoing all our efforts. "What you do for your skin or against your skin will have ramifications as you age," dermatologist Heidi Waldorf told WebMD. And if you’re currently in your 30s, Waldorf confirmed "it’s a nice time to start to address it because a little bit goes a long way."
However, try not to worry (it will cause wrinkles, after all!). Before you run to your dermatologist for Botox or book a face lift with the plastic surgeon, allow us to offer some simple — and less invasive — suggestions. You can help lighten the load on your face with a few simple lifestyle tweaks. Curious to know all the ways you are aging yourself, and get some tips to curb these complexion busters? Put on your reading glasses (squinting equals creases) and scroll down.
You’re wearing too much makeup
Oh, the irony. When you are younger, you try to make yourself look older with makeup. When you are older? You may be desperate to find products that give you a more youthful glow.
Less is more when it comes to application, and you will want to be mindful in the products you pick — especially in regards to foundation. Max Factor makeup artist Malin Coleman told Good Housekeeping, "People think that because they’re older, they need to go for a heavier foundation to disguise their lines, but actually it makes them look more prominent, as the foundation pools in the wrinkles." With this in mind, she suggests choosing a lightweight sheer option that offers buildable coverage.
Over-powdering the face can backfire as well. Dior makeup artist Jamie Coombes told the magazine, "As we get older, heavier finishing powders can look overdone, accentuate pores, flatten the complexion and generally age us." In other words, go easy on the product. What’s more, do not forget to moisturize the skin before applying any makeup and consider adding primer to your routine as it can "blur out imperfections," according to Coombes. And, let’s be honest, who would not want a little facial blurring as they get a bit older?
Smoking will age your body and your face
Sorry, but we flat out refuse to lighten up about lighting up. You are probably (okay, definitely) aware of the many consequences that come with this addictive habit. What you might not realize, though, is that huffing and puffing can age your body, organs, cells, and skin.
Dr. J. Taylor Hayes wrote for the Mayo Clinic that it "can speed up the normal aging process of your skin, contributing to wrinkles and other changes to the appearance of your face." He continued, writing, "These changes include crow’s-feet, pronounced lines between the eyebrows, uneven skin complexion, a grayish tone on lighter skin, deep creases and puffiness below the eyes, wrinkles around the mouth, and thinner lips."
But how does this happen? Dr. Hayes explained that the nicotine in cigarettes narrows blood vessels and cuts off the regular flow of oxygen and nutrients to the epidermis. Moreover, other harmful chemicals "trigger molecular events" that decrease the skin’s natural plumpness and elasticity. Plus, there is the actual smoke that you exhale which can dry out skin — basically adding insult to skinjury.
Tanning will hurt you in the long run
You love basking in the sunlight. And while some natural vitamin D is good for the body, mind, and soul, exposure to the sun’s UV rays — without ample protection — is doing your skin a serious disservice. As noted by the American Academy of Dermatology Association (AAD), those who regularly tan see premature wrinkles, discoloration, and loss of elasticity. Moreover, they are actively (and perhaps knowingly!) putting themselves at greater risk of getting skin cancer.
The good news? You can enjoy the alfresco pool life without paying the price in fine lines and age spots by taking a few simple precautionary steps. The most important part of your sun-worshiping regimen is wearing sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30, as recommended by the AAD. And if you really like having bronzed skin? Pick up a tube of self-tanner.
While we know we should not have to say this, it bears emphasis: If you are a regular at the tanning salon, you have got to go cold turkey on that UV bed. It is no better for your skin than the sun — and can actually age your skin more rapidly (via AAD).
Rely on fast food and junk food? You face and body will pay the price
Love you some donuts, chips, soda, and other sugary processed junk food? We’re sorry to say they do not love you back. While the occasional splurge can be a treat to the tummy, regularly eating an unhealthy diet full of sugar and sodium will take a toll on your inner health and your outer appearance.
As it turns out, there are actually quite a few foods that age you, as noted by Healthline. For example, anything fried at a high temp (we are looking at you, delicious crispy french fries) produces free radicals that can harm your cells, "weaken skin’s elasticity," and speed up aging.
Another common culprit? Processed meats. That’s right, put down the salami sandwich. High in salt, saturated fats, and sulfites, they "dehydrate the skin" and cause inflammation which can lead to the break down of elasticity-promoting collagen. Also do not go too wild with the caffeinated beverages. While perhaps not directly correlated to your skin’s appearance, excessive intake of the stimulating chemical can lead to poor sleep, which will, in turn, cause you to look, well, less than radiant.
Straws aren’t doing you any favors
While we could go on and on about the environmental impact of plastic straws, we will save that soap-box argument for another day. In the meantime, if you are not quite ready to forgo the straw for the good of Mother Nature, do it for the sake of your face.
"Repeated straw drinking causes people to purse their lips and can create wrinkles from the repetitive muscle motion," Dr. Rebecca Baxt, a dermatologist, told HuffPost. "Much like frowning causes wrinkles on the upper face." Dr. Baxt further explained that she "[doesn’t] think once a week or less would be problematic, but in people who are prone to lip and mouth wrinkles, I tell them to avoid straws altogether."
Unfortunately, puckering your lips around a bottle is just as bad. Your best bet to avoid these mouth lines? Pour your drink of choice into a cup or glass and drink it down, dermatologist Renee Rouleau told Her. Your lips will make less of an exaggerated movement.
Indulging in too many alcoholic beverages will have you looking and feeling older
You may like your wine, beer, and other types of booze — but it probably shows on your face. Colin Milner, CEO of the International Council of Active Aging, told U.S. News & World Report that moderate to heavy drinking can speed up the aging process of the skin and lead to all sorts of unpleasant, unsightly consequences: wrinkles, inflammation, redness, visible capillaries, and a parched complexion. Why does this happen? Alcohol does not just dehydrate your body on the inside, it dries up your skin, too.
What’s more, regular and excessive alcohol intake harms your liver, as explained by Milner. It can further fuel conditions like diabetes and hypertension, and may even be linked to dementia and memory loss. It is worth noting that alcohol tolerance decreases as you get older, further exacerbating your body and mind’s reaction to a pint — or two (via U.S. News & World Report).
Forgoing your skin care routine will age you
If you have been using the same facial cleanser and drug store moisturizer since you were a teen without further enhancing your skin care routine, it is probably time to step up your game. You are not getting any younger — and that truth is beginning to show.
According to the dermatologists consulted by Insider, you should start to include some anti-aging products into your skin care routine as early as your 20s. While your skin might still look firm, plum, and flawless, it is wise to stave off aging by taking a proactive approach in your regimen.
Yes, prevention is key. But more important than buying fancy, expensive anti-aging skin care products is protecting your skin daily with SPF. Dr. Adam Friedman, a dermatologist and director of dermatologic research at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, told WebMD, "I can’t stress enough that the No.1 thing young adults can do to limit the signs of aging is use a broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB rays with an SPF 30 or higher every single day."
Being facially expressive could make you look older
You are expressive. You smile when you are happy, furrow your brows when you are sad, and crinkle up your entire face in fits of rage. You wear your emotions on your sleeve — and the resulting wrinkles on your face.
Yes, making lots of faces, whether intentional or not, throughout the day on repeat can lead to fine lines and creases. As explained by the Mayo Clinic, "Each time you use a facial muscle, a groove forms beneath the surface of the skin. And as skin ages, it loses its flexibility and is no longer able to spring back in place. These grooves then become permanent features on your face." So be careful (and think positive), or you could end up with forever frown lines.
Seriously though, you can’t freeze your face (unless, well, hello Botox!) and hide your feelings, but there are some preventive steps you can take to counteract your tell-tale emotional folds. As suggested by the Mayo Clinic, use a moisturizer daily. It works to lock in water, which can "help mask tiny lines." Not quite the cure you were hoping for, we’d imagine, but a quick-fix Band-Aid nonetheless.
Skipping zzz’s will age you on the inside and outside
Heads up: "You looked tired" is pretty much code for "you’re looking old." It is harsh, but it’s also true. Exhaustion takes a toll on your complexion. A study performed at the University Hospitals Case Medical Center showed that insufficient sleep is linked to poor skin health and faster aging. Lead researcher Dr. Elma Baron said in a press release that women who do not get enough sleep have visible premature aging of the skin. Moreover, their skin is less readily able to "recover after sun exposure" (via HuffPost). Basically, you are not giving your skin the opportunity to bounce back.
Yes, your epidermis is your largest organ, and it, too, needs some R&R. "This research shows for the first time, that poor sleep quality can accelerate signs of skin aging and weaken the skin’s ability to repair itself at night," said Dr. Daniel Yarosh, a senior vice president at The Estée Lauder Companies, in the aforementioned press release. In short: Beauty sleep is real. Go to bed — and your youthful face will thank you.
Being sedentary will age you faster
Rest is good, but too much lounging around is counterproductive. We all have our couch potato days, of course. But while laying around, getting minimal movement, and being a sloth may physically slow you down, it can simultaneously pick up the pace of your aging process.
Research out of King’s College London found that spending too much time and forgoing exercise puts you at greater risk of disease that would typically affect older individuals (via MedicineNet). Lead study author Lynn F. Cherkas explained in a statement, saying, "A sedentary lifestyle increases the propensity to aging-related diseases and premature death. Inactivity may diminish life expectancy not only by predisposing to aging-related diseases, but also because it may influence the aging process itself."
In other words, this is even more significant than getting a few wrinkles. The good news: Exercise may be able to reduce oxidative stress, which damages the body. And getting regular movement can make you biologically younger. Now, if that is not motivation to get up off the sofa, we do not know what is.
If you’re perpetually stressed, you could be aging yourself
Work stress, home stress, life stress — we get it. Adulting is hard. But if you do not find a healthier way to cope with the daily struggles of functioning, your face is going to take a hard hit. Yes, there is a definitive connection between your mental health and your complexion. And, as pointed out by Healthline, intense or perpetual periods of stress can manifest as acne or even result in rashes.
What’s more, if you are not sleeping because of stress it can lead to puffy eyes — and — you guessed it — wrinkles. As explained by the site, stress can alter the skin’s vital proteins and cause its natural tightness to falter, leading to lines and creases. Additionally, if you are constantly pulling at your skin in exasperation or even subconsciously making facial expressions in response to your situation, it could cause further wrinkling. And then, of course, there is the fact that stress can cause your hair to gray — and even lead to hair loss (via Healthline).
Forgetting your shades on a sunny day could age your face
Every time you forget to bring your sunglasses to the beach, you are doing yourself a great disservice. Exposure to UV rays may negatively impact your vision as you get older, which is why Ophthalmologist Rishi Singh recommends sunglasses that block UVA and UVB light (via Cleveland Clinic). Plus, without sunglasses, you’ll spend a lot of time squinting.
Dermatologist Rachel Nazarian explained to Byrdie that squinting can cause you to "develop many more fine lines around [your eyes]. Much like classic crow’s-feet, repeating squinting and contraction of periocular muscles eventually lead to many lines around the eyes." And, FYI: This can also happen if you raise your brows while applying eye makeup.
Another surprising move that could be causing signs of facial aging? Staring at your cell phone. Dr. Nazarian said that you should "pay attention to the creases and folds that form when you’re peering down at your email — a wrinkly neck is sure to age your [appearance] quickly." Duly noted!
Not taking care of your pearly whites will make you appear older
You brush twice a day. And floss (okay, sometimes). Besides getting on your dentist’s naughty list, neglecting to care for your smile can make you look older. No one wants yellow teeth, but all that coffee, acidic foods, and sugary treats are damaging your not-so-pearly whites. Plus, a tinted smile adds time to your face.
Dentist Ira Handschuh told Prevention, "As we get older, our teeth change, and often our smiles age faster than our chronological age." So what does that mean for you, aesthetically speaking? He elaborated, saying, "Aging teeth often appear darker, yellow and dull, as well as worn in length. And teeth often begin to chip and give our lips less support, which gives an aging appearance."
Fortunately, you don’t have to be complacent with your aging grin. There are a few simple steps that can give you that youthful smile back. First and foremost, whiten those bad boys. Next, consider fixing any teeth that have shifted or collapsed inward with time. You can switch out metal fillings for modern colorless options. And if all else fails? Consider getting veneers. "This is the most profound way to turn back the clock," said Dr. Handschuh.