While many of my friends, colleagues, and family members attest to the fact that they’ve earned their wrinkles—there are plenty of daily habits that accelerate the process. From those fine lines around your eyes (some dub them crow’s feet) to those deep crevices on either side of your mouth (many call them smile lines), the following seven bad habits can make wrinkles show up sooner and more harshly.
Minimize the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles by avoiding these bad, crease-causing habits…
1. You’re a Smoker
Mirror, mirror on the wall…I think everyone can agree that you look far healthier without that cigarette between your lips. There are numerous reasons why smoking is unhealthy—including the repetitive facial motions it takes to purse your lips and inhale, and the manner in which the chemicals in cigarettes wear away skin’s elastin.
According to studies published by the U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health, smoking cigarettes restricts the fresh blood and oxygen flow needed for skin cell rejuvenation and zaps your visage of vital nutrients. Sadly, smoking leaves you with fine lines around your mouth and less elasticity in skin fiber at a much earlier age.
2. Sleeping Without Washing Off Make-up
The odd night of sleeping in your make-up won’t do permanent damage to your skin, according to dermatologist, Dr. Eric Schweiger, the founder of New York’s Clear Clinic. However, if you consistently party and go to bed in full make-up, your face basically becomes a petri dish for free radical exposure.
Dr. Schweiger says that cosmetics holds on to all of the environmental pollutants our faces are exposed to throughout the day. The pores can become blocked with make-up, and likewise collect and store free radicals, resulting in collagen breakdown and the early development of fine lines. This is why cleansing and moisturizing before bed (and again in the morning) will keep skin young and healthy looking.
3. You Shun Sunscreen
Doctors at the American Academy of Dermatology say, “Tsk, tsk” to basking in the sun without slathering on the sunscreen. Sure, skin experts know that avoiding the sun completely is almost impossible. That’s why they reach for a water-resistant, broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30.
Keep in mind that even during the winter and even if you’re inside a vehicle, the sun’s powerful UV rays can get you—and leave you with the telltale fine lines and wrinkles to prove it!
4. You Won’t Put Down the Mobile Technology
Smartphones, tablets, and personal video game players have a few things in common. It’s not only rude to play them at the dinner table—it’s also damaging to your skin, according to Dr. Christopher Rowland Payne, a consultant dermatologist at the U.K.-based London Clinic.
Consider the angle that you set your face in when viewing mobile technology—your eyes are downcast, and your neck and chin are cocked for hours at a time. That repetitive angle is bound to leave users with “tech neck,” an early-aged pattern characterized by dermatologists as the dropping of jowls along with the accumulation of wrinkles on the lower half of the face and neck.
5. Diet Do’s and Don’ts
It shouldn’t surprise you that a poor diet will show up on the inside (poor digestion, diabetes, cardiovascular issues) and outside (weight gain and premature aging) of your body in numerous telltale ways. For instance, research published in the British Journal of Nutrition links inflammation-causing foods—like red meat, refined sugars, processed foods, margarine, and vegetable oils as a surefire way to accelerate early aging.
Good thing that studies published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition recommend a diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, lean proteins (eggs, lean poultry and beef, and beans), omega-3 fatty acids and alpha-linolenic acid (i.e., avocados, salmon, olive oil, and flaxseeds) for protecting the skin from free radical damage and promoting soft and supple collagen production.
6. You’re a Stomach Sleeper
We all love our pillows, but crushing your face against it—even if it’s of the 400 thread–count, goose feather down variety—can cause premature lines and creases, claims a study published in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology.
If you fall asleep on your back only to wake up with your face planted into your pillow, try sleeping with a second pillow wedged under your knees so you can’t roll over as easily during slumber.
7. You Chronically Chew Gum
Sure, after a morning coffee or a particularly garlicky meal, a stick of gum may save your love life. However, chronic gum chewing is a prime culprit for the early development of fine lines and wrinkles—especially around your mouth.
Research from the American Society of Cosmetic Dermatology and Aesthetic Surgery, suggests that gum chewing causes the premature downward dropping of the corners of the mouth. Luckily, you can save your perky pout and your reputation by using a splash of mouthwash, breath strips or mints to banish foul breath.