Most of us make these wrinkle-making mistakes every day... Who knew?
I bet you can probably guess the two major habits that can cause wrinkles. You’re correct: Sun exposure and smoking (not to mention these habits create a slew of other signs of premature aging, like dark spots and sagging skin). But, if you do use daily sunscreen and don’t smoke and you’re still seeing an alarming amount of fine lines creep up, there could be other contributing factors.
Like what, you ask?!
Most likely, there are things you’re doing or not doing that are, over time, wreaking havoc on your skin.
As a cosmetic surgeon, I’ve worked with thousands of clients at my practice in Beverly Hills, California. During this time, listening to both men and women talk to me about their lifestyle and appearance concerns, I discovered these 21 habits—and some are believed to be ‘healthy’—causing you those dreaded creases.
I know what you may be thinking: Twenty-one things to change or add to my already jammed to-do list? Ugh! This sounds so overwhelming—maybe so much so you don’t even want to keep reading. I totally hear you.
The good news?
They’re actually pretty simple lifestyle shifts.
In addition to the two big “S’s” (smoking and sun exposure) in speeding up signs of aging on your face, here are 21 more things to avoid:
Wrinkle Maker #1. Washing Your Face Too Much
Going to bed with your makeup on is never a good idea. In fact, even if you don’t wear makeup, you should cleanse your face nightly. But there’s the other extreme as well: over-washing. To avoid stripping the skin of its natural, wrinkle-fighting oils, wash your skin no more than twice a day with a gentle cleanser. And if you don’t have excessively oily skin, skip face washing in the morning altogether. This retains all those healthy oils your skin produces during sleep. Instead, just rinse your face with warm water in the morning.
Wrinkle Maker #2: Waiting Until Thirst Sets In
Did you know that by the time you feel thirsty, it’s already too late? Thirst is a sign that your body is dehydrated. As with sleep, staying hydrated throughout the day is one of the cheapest and simplest ways to maintain a vibrant, fresh-looking face. Keep a refillable bottle of water with you throughout the day. Not only will it to remind you to drink up but also it helps to keep track of how much you consume per day. The golden standard is 8X8: 8 glasses, 8-ounces each.
Wrinkle Maker #3: Skipping Your Eye Exam
Do you squint when reading, checking your phone, driving, or watching a movie? Not only can it lead to splitting headaches, frequent squinting can also cause those dreaded frown lines between the brow and around your eyes. Make sure to keep that annual eye exam appointment. If you need them, wear contacts or glasses. And don’t ever go outdoors without wearing sunglasses.
Wrinkle Maker #4: Using a Straw
Do you drink from a straw to preserve your freshly applied lipstick or protect sensitive teeth from that icy cold beverage? Repeated sipping (pursing of your lips) can create wrinkles around your mouth. So skip the straw and save the puckering up for kissing those you love.
Wrinkle Maker #5: Losing Too Much Weight
Especially as we age, due to a decrease in elasticity and collagen, being too thin only accentuates wrinkles—especially on the face and neck. If you’re at a healthy weight, don’t lose more.
Wrinkle Maker #6: Not Getting Enough Vitamin C
Vitamin C isn’t just a cold remedy. It’s also a superhero in slowing the appearance of aging. Vitamin C fights free radicals which break down collagen. C also guards against the sun’s ultraviolet rays. That’s why we incorporate natural sources of Vitamin C in our skincare line, such as the kakadu plum. This Australian superfood has one of the highest doses of Vitamin C of any fruit in the world! Make sure to use both a Vitamin-C rich topical skin product, eat plenty of Vitamin-C rich foods and take a supplement. Recommended dietary daily dose of Vitamin C is 75 - 120 mg.
Wrinkle Maker #7: Sleeping on Your Side
Ever wake up with funny indents on your face from sleeping? Years of sleeping on your face can create permanent crease lines. Sleep on your back, or if you simply cannot surrender sleeping on your side or stomach, use a silk pillowcase. Instead of your skin sticking to a cotton pillowcase for hours at a time, sleeping on silk allows your skin to move freely.
Wrinkle Maker #8: Not Doing Regular Headstands
You don’t need to be a yoga guru to master this skin-boosting trick. A headstand, or some modified version of it, encourages blood and oxygen to rush to face. Spending a few minutes a day upside down helps to counteract gravity naturally and brings nutrients to the face and the scalp… and some say it’s even good for combating gray hair!
Wrinkle Maker #9: Depriving Yourself of Sleep
Celebrities, such as Naomi Watts, swear by plenty of sleep—literally beauty sleep—as their number one secret to looking good. During sleep, your body repairs itself—including new collagen production. Collagen is responsible for producing firm-looking skin. So go ahead: tap that snooze button or turn in early to get seven to nine hours of rest a night.
Wrinkle Maker #10: Using The Wrong Sunscreen
When choosing a sunscreen—whether it’s lotion or spray—look for one that says, “broad spectrum protection”. This term means that it blocks out both UVA and UVB rays—the bad guy rays that contribute to skin cancer and aging. And SPF 30+ is perfect when you’re going to be outside for an extended time. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, anything above SPF 30+ gives only one percent more protection. Since SPF 50+ - 100+ is more expensive, the extra cost versus the benefits don’t really add up. Remember to apply 30 minutes before you go outdoors and reapply every two hours.
Wrinkle Maker #11: Satisfying Your Sweet Tooth
OK, we all know eating sugar can lead to all sorts of sticky situations—from weight gain to tooth decay. But there’s another reason to skip sweets: recent studies link aging skin to eating too much sugar. When you eat sugar, your body produces AGEs (advanced glycation end products) that result in cellulite, wrinkles, age spots and many other signs of aging. Ideally, we should never eat sugar. But that’s pretty difficult to maintain. An easy way to cut sugar intake without making drastic dietary changes? Swap out smoothies, juices, or sodas (even diet ones) with a glass of water or herbal tea.
Wrinkle Maker #12: Avoiding Oil-Based Skincare Products
Especially if you deal with breakouts, you probably avoid putting oil on your face for fear of clogging pores and creating more acne. However, applying a small amount of oil or oil-based product to your face and neck—be it argan, olive (Sophia Loren’s beauty secret!), or grapeseed oil—regularly before you go to sleep keeps the skin supple. And if you’re still worried about breakouts, only apply the oil to wrinkle-prone areas like under the eyes, forehead or around the mouth.
Wrinkle Maker #13: Using Margarine
Healthy fats, such as olive oil and Omega-3s, in your diet are wonderful for supple skin. But, fake butter containing trans fats, such as margarine, can take a toll on hydration. In fact, according to a Journal of the American College of Nutrition study, ingesting high amounts of margarine was linked to causing wrinkles. Not sure what has trans fats? A good rule of thumb is to only eat things with ingredients you can pronounce.
Wrinkle Maker #14: Driving Without Protection
While driving, your face may be protected from sun damage from your moisturizer with SPF. But, there are many other areas of your skin that are exposed during your daily commute. Make sure to apply sunscreen (SPF 30+) to hands, neck, and left arm and shoulder.
Wrinkle Maker #15: Drinking Right Before You Go To Bed
Drinking alcohol relaxes the muscles—including the ones in your throat. What do those muscles have to do with wrinkles? When they are too relaxed, it inhibits breathing and interrupts vital beauty sleep. I’m not saying to give up alcohol entirely, but reduce your intake—specifically right before bed. Plus, alcohol dehydrates the body and skin. Thirsty, dehydrated skin has a harder time generating new cells and repairing itself which, eventually, speeds up the aging process. Headed to a party or dinner where lots of imbibing will be involved? Drink a glass of water between each alcoholic drink.
Wrinkle Maker #16: Rubbing Your Eyes
Pulling and tugging on the thin, sensitive skin around the eyes can actually stretch it out over time, which leads to droopy eyelids. Use an eye makeup cleanser and gently, as if handling an egg, wipe off mascara and eyeliner. And avoid rubbing your eyes in general.
Wrinkle Maker #17: Stressing Out
Stress is the root of many ailments, including wrinkles. Whether you flip out in traffic or fret from a troublesome relationship, stressing out releases cortisol. And cortisol inhibits collagen production. To better cope when life gets tough, consider adding yoga or meditation to your routine.5
Wrinkle Maker #18: Flying Without a Skin Regime
Due to the stale, recirculated air within an airplane, your skin needs extra TLC during a flight. If it’s under five hours long, pack a hydrating facial spray. There are many good ones on the market or simply make your own by filling a fine mist spray bottle (make sure it’s travel-sized: three ounces or less) with filtered water. You can also add a few drops of essential oils, such as rose or lavender. Spritz your face and decolletage every hour. For overnight flights, use makeup removal wipes to clean your face and apply a regenerating skin cream before sleeping.
Wrinkle Maker #19: Frowning & Furrowing
These facial expressions, especially if they are habitual, are the culprits of creating creases around the mouth and between the brow. When you’re deep in concentration, whether at work or watching a movie, check in with yourself and do a quick scan of your facial muscles. Are you squinting, pursing your lips or furrowing your brow? Take a deep breath and relax those facial muscles.
Wrinkle Maker #20: Skipping Oils in Your Diet
Although low-fat diets were a fad a few decades ago, the belief still prevails that avoiding fat—including healthy fats, such as in salmon, avocados or olive oil—will help you lose weight. While these may have more calories, by cutting out healthy fats, you deprive your body of vital Omega fatty acids -3, -6, and -9. These are essential in preventing wrinkles and dry skin. Think of them as moisturizers for your insides—specifically the walls of skin cells.
Wrinkle Maker #21: Stinking Thinking
In recent years, our health and our thoughts are believed to be linked. So, why can’t this be applied to aging beautifully, too? Maybe you’re telling yourself how old you look lately or complaining to others about your wrinkles. Could your body be responding and obeying these aging ‘affirmations’? Absolutely. Be aware of these negative thoughts. The first step is to recognize them (I’m amazed how many self-doubting thoughts run through my head that I’m not really aware of!) When you say or think something negative about your looks, replace them with: “My skin looks radiant” or “I look much younger than my actual age”. At first, you may feel strange doing this. However, since we can choose our thoughts, why not focus on telling yourself how great you look?!
You see? I promised it wouldn’t be too difficult to make a big difference. Follow these tips and guaranteed—you’ll help to keep your skin looking fresh, firm and young-looking for a lifetime.
Dr. John Layke, M.D.
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