We’re trying not to be horrified by the wrinkles that just keep appearing in the mirror, but let’s face it (literally!), they can be hard to ignore sometimes. Like, for instance, what’s with those “smoker’s lines” that show up around the lips even though you don’t smoke? Too much puckering up, maybe. Sheesh. Now even love is aging us? Not quite. But the fact is, your beauty and lifestyle habits may be sabotaging your skin. And according to plastic and reconstructive surgery specialist Dr. Mirwat Sami, that’s good news—because it means you can do something about it. So what can you do—short of Botox, fillers and plastic surgery—to slow down wrinkles? Plenty. Although wrinkles can be genetic and naturally develop with age, there are quite a few bad habits you can break to stop being a subconscious skin saboteur. And here they are.
9 SURPRISING THINGS YOU’RE DOING THAT ARE MAKING YOU LOOK OLDER
PROBLEM: You might get a good night’s sleep on your sides and tummy but you’re unnecessarily stressing your skin. Fetal and tummy positions cause uneven blood circulation. You’re locking up nourishment, blood, and oxygen in some body parts while depriving others, including skin, thereby creating wrinkles. Poor blood circulation also causes fluids to stay around your eyes, contributing to the formation of bags and dark circles that make you look tired.
FIX: Train yourself to sleep on your back.
PROBLEM: Many of us spend a fortune on anti-aging products, yet we may regularly accelerate skin aging without even being aware of it. The central heating and air conditioning systems that many of us use at home and at work can severely dry out skin, leading to premature aging and wrinkles.
FIX: To help keep skin youthful and soft, try turning down the heating and wearing more layers to stay warm. Try these tips: Keeping a glass of water in the room can also increase humidity, while wearing a protective face cream can help relieve dryness.
3. Smoking Anything PROBLEM: This bad habit is ranked second only to sun exposure as the leading cause of wrinkles. Smoking interferes with the absorption of Vitamin A and C both of which provide skin protection. Nicotine, the main ingredient in cigarettes, causes dehydration and narrows the blood vessels in the outermost layers of the skin, depleting it of oxygen and important nutrients. It also damages collagen and elastin, both of which give your skin its strength and elasticity. A cigarette’s heat also causes irritation around the eyes, forcing you to squint and create wrinkles. You will also develop hollowed cheeks around the mouth from dragging between your lips. FIX: STOP! Any way you can.
PROBLEM: Indulging in sugar is clearly bad news for your waistline. But it’s also right also up there with sun exposure and smoking when it comes to the major causes of wrinkles. When blood sugar levels are high, a process called glycation occurs which damages the collagen in your skin. Once damaged, the normally springy collagen hardens, leading to wrinkles and sagging.
FIX: Reach for healthier options to satisfy your cravings.
PROBLEM: Bad news. All alcohol dehydrates the skin (even this yummy stuff). This means your skin will appear less plump and fresh the morning after. Over time, your skin will lose elasticity and form wrinkles due to a lack of hydration. Alcohol can also rob your body of vitamin A, a very important antioxidant for your skin and body, and an important tool in the production of collagen. Without collagen, you lose elasticity in your skin, which keeps your skin supple, taut, and looking young.
FIX: Pace yourself. Drink a glass of water between cocktails. For tips on How to Survive a Hangover, click here.
PROBLEM: Gum chewing produces a type of wrinkle that is often seen on the lower mouth. It causes other issues in the mouth structure as well. So even though it seems innocuous, it’s not a great idea.
FIX: This is an easy habit to give up in the name of preserving your skin.
PROBLEM: When you don’t wash off your makeup before bed, you’re basically asking for wrinkles. The makeup and environmental pollutants you accumulate during the day seep into your pores, breaking down collagen and elastin. This can speed up the aging process and leave you with fine lines and wrinkles.
FIX: Cleanse and moisturize your skin every night before bed.
PROBLEM: This common practice creates wrinkles—and is generally frowned upon in the makeup world. You should do your makeup how everyone else is going to see you, and hopefully it’s not with your mouth stretched open and eyebrows lifted so you can put on your mascara.
FIX: Don’t pull on your eyes and stretch them so you can put on your eyeliner. It’s about moving your whole face when you’re applying makeup, not stretching it so it’s flat.
PROBLEM: We’ve all been told to never skip the sunscreen, but it’s often tempting when many of us spend our days indoors. Even a few minutes of sun exposure can lead to a breakdown of collagen though and that leads to fine lines and wrinkles.
FIX: Wear sunscreen every day, rain or shine, so that you don’t get sun damage. Choose an SPF 30 and one that has zinc oxide or titanium dioxide.
Dr. Mirwat Sami is a Houston Board-certified Ophthalmologist specializing in Ophthalmic Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. She has fine tuned her skills in cosmetic procedures in order to unveil and highlight the inner beauty of her patients.