Sun, smoking, stress — we all know to avoid them in the quest to prevent aging, but what about the small things we do on a daily basis? For example, did you know that yawning causes fine lines and wrinkles to appear more rapidly? Many other seemingly harmless habits can also cause the skin to age prematurely. Have I got your interest piqued? Read on to find out what you need to stop — or start — doing to look more youthful.
We've drilled this into your head by now, but if you still think you’re not exposed to the dangerous rays caused from UV light because you’re not outdoors or at the beach, think again. There are two types of rays: UVA and UVB. While UVB rays (the ones that cause skin to burn) aren’t as strong in the winter months, UVA rays (the ones that cause premature wrinkles and skin cancer) are approximately the same strength year round. They also penetrate through clouds, even on snowy, winter days. Daily use of a sunscreen is an absolute must if you’re concerned about preventing visible skin aging. Sunscreen is the best anti-aging product in the world. Period.
Most of us don’t get enough sleep, which is bad for a variety of reasons. Did you know that yawning is actually one of them? When you yawn, the simple motion encourages your eyes to water, which creates swelling and puffiness. This excess fluid around the eyes weakens the elasticity of the surrounding tissue, causing an acceleration of wrinkles. The loss of elasticity in the skin is like a rubber band that’s been stretched repeatedly — at some point, it doesn’t snap back anymore. Before staying up past your bedtime to read just one more chapter, consider the side effects. It’s called ‘beauty sleep’ for a reason.
Stop squinting! This weakens the elastin fibers around the eyes with every scrunch. Preventing the loss of elasticity is essential for slowing down the visible skin aging around the eyes. Typically, the eyes are the first part of your face that shows aging. Schedule an annual exam and get prescription glasses (if needed) to stay squint-free. Of course, be sure to always wear sunglasses when you’re outdoors.
While most people know that smoking can be detrimental to the body, secondhand smoke is dangerous as well. The components in secondhand smoke are more concentrated, since there is no filter at the end of the cigarette. The levels of nicotine, tar, nitric oxide, and carbon monoxide are at least twice as high in secondhand smoke. So, what does this mean for your skin? It’s simple — you’re getting as much of the outer skin damage that smokers can get, if not more. Secondhand smoke affects the skin greatly because collagen-destroying enzymes ramp up when exposed to tobacco smoke, causing increased wrinkling and visible aging.
Whenever I travel to France, I have observed that some of my non-smoking family members still exhibit signs of smoking in their skin because the habit is much more prevalent there. Try to avoid secondhand smoke as much as possible and be sure to use products with antioxidants to protect skin cells from damage.
Just like squinting, repeated facial expressions and movements will break down collagen and elastin fibers. When using a straw, you have to purse your lips, causing unnecessary lines and wrinkles around the mouth. Similarly, drinking from a narrow bottle can also cause this to happen. Instead, drink your beverage from a glass. As a note, many dentists will advise people to drink from straws to prevent dark liquids from staining the teeth, but the choice yours to make.
Exfoliating is an important part of any skincare routine, but over-exfoliating can actually do more harm than good. With the abundance of at-home exfoliating products available these days, I’ve noticed this trend when using skin care products: If it’s not burning or stinging, it’s not working. Sound familiar? In the quest to look younger and have smoother skin, people are using too many aggressive exfoliating treatments that are actually injuring their skin. Too much exfoliation can cause damage to the moisture barrier. Results include flaking, dehydration, inflammation, possible destruction of healthy cells, and a stimulation of melanin activity causing increased hyperpigmentation. Every type of skin responds differently to exfoliation, but at the very least, exfoliation with facial scrubs, acids, or at-home peels should not be performed every day. Consult with an esthetician or trusted skin care professional to determine the correct amount of exfoliation for your skin type.
Many people think they don’t need to cleanse in the morning as their skin is clean from the night before. But, in my opinion, it’s important to wash your skin in the morning because while you sleep at night, skin is in repair mode and secretes toxins and sebum (oil), which can prevent your daytime products from working effectively. When you wash your skin in the morning, you’re removing oil and bacteria, as well as your nighttime products so your daytime products (particularly SPF moisturizer) can get into the skin more effectively. Simply put, washing your skin in the morning gives it a clean slate. Additionally, the nighttime products on your skin often contain ingredients — like acids and retinol — that are only suitable for your evening regimen. These should be cleansed from the skin to avoid any reactions or potential irritation. Washing your face in the morning with a gentle, sulfate-free cleanser is a key step in ensuring healthy, calm and youthful-looking skin.
Try to incorporate these practices when possible. While we can’t stop time, following these tips will certainly help slow down the signs of aging. Bottom line: it’s much easier and less expensive to prevent wrinkles than to erase them. Trust me on this one!