Aging is inevitable. It also brings with it several types of health problems including obesity, Type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.
Plus, with age, the skin becomes thinner and drier. This leads to fine lines and wrinkles, increased pigmentation, loss of elasticity and firmness, and dull skin.
At times, body starts showing aging signs sooner than you might expect. Several environment, lifestyle and dietary factors can cause premature aging. This makes you look and feel older, faster.
But by taking care of your skin and overall health, and avoiding certain day-to-day habits, you can prevent premature aging.
Here are the top 10 habits that make your skin age faster.
It is a known fact that smoking harms your health in many ways. But smoking can also accelerate the aging process of your skin.
The harmful chemicals in cigarette smoke chronically deprive your skin cells of oxygen, which can lead to pale, uneven coloring. It even triggers the breakdown of collagen and can cause loose, saggy skin.
In fact, the whole process of smoking can cause deep wrinkles around the mouth.
A 2007 study published in the Journal of Dermatological Science reports that smoking tobacco leads to accelerated skin aging. So, those who are more concerned about their appearance should try to stop smoking.
Later, a 2013 study published in Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery highlighted the facial changes caused by smoking between smoking and nonsmoking identical twins.
The study notes a 5-year difference in smoking history can cause noticeable differences in facial aging in twins.
Whether you smoke or you spend time with a smoker, cigarette smoke is bad for your skin.
By quitting smoking and avoiding secondhand smoke, you can restore your skin’s health. A 2010 study published in SKINmed Journal reports that quitting smoking improves skin conditions and, above all, skin-aging effects.
2. Drinking in Excess
Alcohol is a natural diuretic, so when you drink in excess it causes dehydration. Dehydration depletes the natural moisture from your skin, which automatically makes you look older than your age.
Excess alcohol intake causes a depletion of healthy nutrients in your body, particularly vitamins A and C. These antioxidant vitamins are essentail for maintaining vibrant and supple skin.
Plus, excessive alcohol intake is one of the triggers for rosacea outbreaks.
High alcohol intake is even associated with skin cancer.
A 2014 study published in Cancer Causes and Control reports that higher current alcohol intake, higher lifetime alcohol intake and even a higher preference for white wine or liquor were associated with increased risk of melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer.
This does not mean that you cannot enjoy having a drink at all. Just drink in moderation or occasionally.
According to the American Heart Association, men should limit themselves to 1 to 2 drinks a day, and women to 1 drink a day (1 drink is 12 ounces beer or 4 ounces of wine).
3. Holding Grudges
Forgiveness is something most of us believe in, but we don’t always practice it. Holding grudges against any person or situation is not good for your health as well as appearance.
If you are not able to forgive, you are adding more stress to your life, which boosts your level of the hormone cortisol. Cortisol leads to weight gain, high blood pressure and high blood sugar.
Stress even leads to more frowning, one of the key causes of wrinkles on the forehead.
A 2005 study published in the Journal of Behavioral Medicine highlighted the link between lack of forgiveness and reduction in stress. Stress is a common cause of a lot many health problems and also contributes to aging.
Do not allow an old grudge to sap your youthfulness. Practice forgiveness and experience better mental and physical well-being.
4. Sun Exposure
No matter how amazing the sun feels on your body, regular and prolonged exposure to sunrays is one of the worst things you can do for your skin.
Long-term exposure to harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays of the sun weakens your skin cells and blood vessels, which causes a tanned, leathery-looking skin. It even leads to pigmentation, reduced skin elasticity and a degradation of skin texture.
Also, the risk of skin cancer is significantly higher due to sun exposure.
A 2013 study published in Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology states that UV exposure seems to be responsible for 80 percent of visible facial aging signs.
Freckles can turn into brown sun spots, the skin takes on a dry, leathery appearance, and wrinkles and sagging increase.
Before going out in the sun, protect your skin by wear a hat, covering up with clothing and using sunscreen that is broad-spectrum, SPF 30 (or higher).
You should apply sunscreen throughout the year. If you like a tanned look, apply a self-tanner rather than soaking up the sunrays.
If you are worried about sun-damaged skin, consult a doctor to reduce existing damage.
5. Too Little Sleep
Just one night of bad sleep can make you look and feel tired. It can even lead to dark circles and bags under your eyes. Now, imagine what lack of sleep for days can do to your skin appearance.
Sleep deprivation can cause skin damage in several ways. First of all, it can increase your cortisol level, which in turn can worsen inflammatory conditions. Secondly, it can cause poor collagen formation, which leads to skin aging.
In a 2013 study by the University Hospitals Case Medical Center, physician-scientists found that sleep quality impacts skin function and aging.
According to this study, poor sleepers had increased signs of skin aging and slower recovery from several environmental stressors, such as disruption of the skin barrier or UV radiation.
Staying up late can be fun, but burning the midnight oil can make you look older as you age.
To enjoy beautiful and flawless skin, make sleep a priority and try to get between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night.
But avoid sleeping too long on one side of your face, as it can cause wrinkles and sleep lines. Also, use a satin pillow case to avoid fine lines and wrinkles.
6. Feeding Your Sweet Tooth
A sugar-packed diet can take a toll on your waistline and weight. It can even accelerate the skin-aging process. It can make your skin dull and wrinkled.
This happens due to the process known as “glycation”, in which sugar attaches to and damages proteins like collagen and elastin. These proteins are needed to keep skin smooth and flexible.
A 2009 study published in PLoS Genetics shows a connection between a rise in age-related diseases and over-consumption of sugar.
In fact, drinking sugary sodas can lead to obesity, diabetes and heart attacks. According to a 2014 study published in the American Journal of Public Health, drinking sugary sodas may also speed up your body’s aging process.
Removing sugar from your diet is not easy if you have a sweet tooth. But you can definitely try to avoid processed sugar and opt for natural fruits to satisfy your cravings for sweets.
You can even opt for dark chocolate, which is good for your health due to its high antioxidant content.
Have you ever noticed that you frown a lot when you’re feeling stressed? Frowning is not good for your appearance.
Over time, the muscles in the face actually conform to that movement. This leads to wrinkles on the forehead, which make you look older.
Stress even plays a key role in initiating and driving events that cause skin aging at the cellular level. Stress contributes to breakdown of the collagen, damages DNA and promotes the release of pro-inflammatory mediators (cytokines), which trigger premature aging signs.
A 2014 study published in Inflammation Allergy and Drug Targets highlights how the brain and skin communicate with each other, how the skin reacts to the stress by activating the endocrine and immune systems, and the negative impact of chronic stress on skin health.
Also, stress is a common risk factor for several chronic diseases including high blood pressure, obesity and heart disease.
Nothing takes its toll on your skin faster than constant worry, anxiety or stress. Stress will never go away completely, but you can manage it and reduce the effects through meditation, yoga, gentle exercise and other relaxation techniques.
8. Improper Skin Care
To keep your skin healthy and flawless, it is essential to follow a proper skin-care routine. Different skin types need different types of treatment, thus it is necessary to know your skin type to help learn how to take care of it.
Irrespective of your skin type, you must wash your face twice a day as well as after exercise or whenever you’ve been sweating.
Sweating irritates the skin and can cause skin problems. Gentle washing will help remove dirt, makeup and other substances without irritating your skin.
Also, never forget to remove your makeup before going to bed. The chemicals in makeup can block the skin pores and lead to aging signs. It is also important to use minimal makeup.
Make sure to exfoliate your skin gently once a week to get rid of dead skin cells. Scrubbing harshly can irritate your skin and accelerate skin aging. Also, keep your skin well-moisturized to give it a more youthful appearance.
Do not touch your face, especially the sensitive skin around your eyes, with dirty hands. Also, give up the habit of rubbing, pulling or tugging on the delicate skin around your eyes as it may make your dark circles appear more noticeable.
Always use the right makeup products for your skin type.
Avoid using conventional skin-care products, as they contain sulfates, parabens and phthalates — chemicals that alter your hormones and accelerate aging. Try switching to natural alternatives for glowing, youthful skin.
9. Being a Couch Potato
Instead of being a couch potato and increasing your risk of obesity and other health problems, make exercise a part of your daily life.
Exercise helps tone your muscles and gets your blood flowing so that your skin gets all the necessary nutrients.
This has a rejuvenating effect on the skin. Plus, exercise provides you with lots of energy that helps you look and feel younger, at any age.
Exercise even staves off heart disease, keeps stress at bay, fights brain fog, reduces inflammation, and prevents Type 2 diabetes and other chronic conditions that crop up with age.
Take a break from your sedentary lifestyle and get moving. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends 30 minutes of moderate exercise most days of the week.
Choose any activity you enjoy – walking, swimming, cycling or dancing.
10. Surviving on Unhealthy Food
The food you eat has a direct impact on how your skin looks and the overall health of your body. If you wish to delay the aging process, you need to pay attention to your diet.
Avoid inflammatory foods, such as vegetable oils, margarine, red meats, white bread and sugary, processed foods. These foods can cause inflammation in your body, which may acclerate skin as well as overall aging.
Eat foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as flaxseeds, flaxseed oil, avocados, salmon and olive oil. These foods help fight inflammation to prevent chronic diseases and also keep your skin soft and supple.
Eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables daily. Fruits and vegetables are abundant in zinc, selenium, vitamin C and beta-carotene, which aid the body’s production of collagen.
Also, eat protein-rich foods, as low protein intake can cause tears, wrinkles and cracks in the skin. Good sources of protein include eggs, lean meat, poultry and beans.
Say no to junk food. The unhealthy levels of sodium, fat and cholesterol in these foods are not good for your skin as well as overall health.
Lastly, do not ignore the importance of keeping your body hydrated. Drink an ample amount of water each day to prevent dehydration and to enjoy younger-looking skin.