7 "Aging" Habits You Really Need To Stop Worrying About

Photo by Erin Yamagata.
Tanning by the pool. Drinking to excess. Sleeping around. Eating the entire box of Samoas in one sitting. It seems like every time human beings discover something fun to do, we get word that it's no good, very bad behavior that will lead to wrinkles, heartbreak, and cancer. (Always cancer.)
But sometimes, the powers that be go overboard. They convince us we need to worry about things that, in the grand scheme of it all, just aren't that big of a deal. We only have so many fucks to give in this lifetime, and when it comes to skin, our focus should be on sun protection, cleansing, and a good ol' antioxidant-filled routine.
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Want to read something on the internet today that's the equivalent of a nice, deep yoga inhale and exhale? Something that clears up .01% of headspace? Then click through the slideshow ahead for seven so-called bad skin habits that derms say are actually NBD. Told you, mom.
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What We're Told: Apply moisturizer using upward motions. Pat skin dry. Tap on eye cream lightly with your ring finger. Or else? All those downward strokes and wiping motions will eventually lead to sagging and pulling of the skin, and will work against circulation.

What's Real: The pros we asked were unanimous: This reasoning is bullshit. "NOT a big deal," says dermatologist Whitney Bowe, MD. "If your sweeping motions happen to go downwards, it's not enough pressure to break down your collagen and elastic fibers and cause sagging skin. Aging, sun exposure, and smoking are the factors that will ultimately make your skin sag, not your cleansing method!"

And Dr. Frauke Neuser, Principal Scientist at Olay, says, "Answering as a scientist, I would say we have no idea because nobody has measured that. Until someone measures a difference, I always have to say 'I don’t know.' The most important thing is that you apply enough [product] and you apply it everywhere."

But we're giving dermatologist Robert Anolik, MD, the final word: "This makes no difference. Up, down, left, right, swirls, have fun. How's that for a definitive answer?"
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What We're Told: Pounding the pavement leads to hollow cheekbones and sagging skin.

What's Real: This is false, says dermatologist Rachel Nazarian, MD. "Research has shown that moderate exercise will actually prevent against premature aging and help preserve anti-aging properties of skin. The additional boost in blood flow to the skin is helpful! So run, but run with your sunscreen applied, and try to avoid peak sunlight hours."
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What We're Told: The UV lamps used to cure gel manicures cause premature skin aging on hands and lead to skin cancer.

What's Real: "Don't sweat it," says Dr. Bowe. "Studies show the risk is very low, but I do recommend using sunscreen or UV protective gloves if you plan to get one every month." Dermatologist Michele J. Farber, MD, agrees that concrete evidence of the link between gel manicures and skin cancer is lacking, but advises slathering on some sunscreen or wearing fingerless gloves to be extra-careful.
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What We're Told: The consistent skin creasing caused by sleeping on your side causes wrinkles.

What's Real: Dr. Anolik says that while it "makes sense that consistent creasing could affect lines... studies don't support this. I tell people stress-free sleep is better for skin quality than stressing over your position."
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What We're Told: If you live in a big city, you should be using daily skin-care products specifically designed to fight the effects of pollution.

What's Real: Are you using SPF? Great. Formulas with antioxidants like vitamin C, E, B3, resveratrol, and green tea, to name a few? Perfect — you're set. "While changes in weather, sun, and environmental factors can affect your skin, gentle skin-care techniques are adequate to combat the elements. It is not necessary to use specific pollution products, but it is helpful to use a serum or moisturizer with antioxidants to help reduce oxidative damage from the environment and a sunscreen or moisturizer with SPF," says Dr. Farber.
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What We're Told: Pulling your upper and lower lids twice a day to put in and take out contact lenses causes wear and tear to the delicate skin over time.

What's Real: Dr. Nazarian says this is another thing to stop worrying about. "Making sure you're using sunscreen to prevent the breakdown of elastin from ultraviolet light is more important than avoiding the stretch of skin altogether. Skin is made to stretch and recoil, so put in your contacts all you want," she says.
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What We're Told: Technology will be the death of us — from our mental health to our interpersonal relationships and communication skills to our eyes and necks, thanks to all the squinting, straining, and looking down we do.

What's Real: We can all agree that doing a digital detox every now and then is a good idea for countless reasons, but since it's unlikely that we'll unplug for too long, we might as well not worry too much. Dr. Bowe says the evidence against looking down at our screens or scrolling through Instagram in the dark is weak, and more anecdotal.

Dermatologist Arielle N.B. Kauvar, MD, adds, "There was a report last year about two women who were reading from their iPhone with one eye while lying on their side in bed in a dark room developing temporary visual changes, which resolved. This is believed to be related to using one eye to read in the dark from a phone. Whilst this is a scary event, it has no permanent effect on vision. Reading on your phone in the dark is OK as long as you use both eyes."
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Looking for more skincare myths and must-haves? Watch us put this outrageously luxurious $1,000 caviar facial to the test.
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