As we age, our skin produces less collagen and elastin — two proteins essential in keeping skin looking young and healthy. As a result, the skin begins to lose its elasticity and firmness, leading to wrinkles and sagging. This is part of the natural aging process.
But what if some of the most common habits you have has sped up this process and make your skin look older faster?
Premature skin aging is a significant concern for many people — and that’s understandable! It can be stressful when you notice fine lines and wrinkles appearing before you reach a ripe age.
Here are 10 habits that can affect your skin health:
- Smoking remains one of the worst things you can do for your skin. Nicotine can cause your blood vessels to narrow, reducing the flow of oxygen and nutrients to the skin. As a result, smokers often have a dull, gray complexion and premature wrinkles. Smoking also increases the risk of cancerous growth on your skin.
- Hot showers. Ever wondered why your grandmother always told you not to stay in the shower too long? The high temperatures cause the skin to lose moisture, making it more susceptible to dryness, wrinkles, and other signs of aging. Hot showers also strip your skin of its natural oils, leaving it vulnerable to environmental damage.
- Harsh cleansers and exfoliants. Harsh cleansers and exfoliants can contribute to premature skin aging by stripping away the skin’s protective barrier. In addition, they can also damage the balance of the skin’s microbiome, leading to inflammation and irritation.
- Eating processed foods. Processed foods are often high in sugar and unhealthy fats, damaging skin cells and promoting inflammation that can lead to wrinkles and a dull, sallow complexion. In addition, processed foods often lack nutrients like vitamins A, C, and E, all essential for healthy skin.
- Sleeping on your stomach or side. Certain sleeping positions can exacerbate premature aging. When you sleep on your stomach, you put unnecessary pressure on your skin, leading to wrinkles and sagging. Similarly, you tend to scrunch up your face when you sleep on your side, which can cause premature wrinkles.
- Neglecting your neck and hands. The skin on your neck is thinner and more delicate than the rest of your body, making it more vulnerable to damage from UV exposure and other environmental aggressors. Additionally, the hands are constantly exposed to the elements and are often in contact with harsh chemicals, which can take a toll on the skin. Over time, this can lead to premature wrinkling, age spots, or dryness.
- Not getting enough sleep. When you sleep, your body repairs DNA damage and produces new cells that keep your skin looking young and healthy. Without sufficient rest, cell regeneration slows down, and the skin becomes more susceptible to wrinkles and fine lines. Sleep deprivation also causes the body to release cortisol, a stress hormone that breaks down collagen, leading to sagging skin.
- Drinking alcohol. Alcohol consumption can lead to dehydration, which, in turn, can cause the skin to become dry and wrinkled. Moreover, alcohol is a vasodilator, meaning that it widens blood vessels. This increased blood flow can damage collagen and elastin fibers, leading to premature skin aging. Alcohol consumption can also deplete levels of vitamin A, an essential nutrient for healthy skin.
- Not drinking enough water. When the body is dehydrated, it doesn’t have enough water to plump up the cells in the skin, which leads to fine lines and wrinkles. In addition, dehydration causes the body to produce less collagen.
- Too much screen time. One of the most surprising contributors to premature skin aging is too much time spent looking at screens. Cell phones, computers, and other electronic devices emit blue light, which has been shown to penetrate deep into the skin and cause premature aging. In addition, staring at screens for long periods can lead to dry eyes and strained muscles, which can contribute to wrinkles and other signs of premature aging.
Some Simple Tips for Healthy Skin
While it’s not possible to completely reverse the signs of premature aging, can improve the appearance of your skin and keep it healthy. Here are some tips:
- Drink plenty of water. As much as possible, avoid dehydrating drinks like coffee and alcohol.
- Get enough sleep.
- Take care of your skin gently; avoid harsh cleansers and treatments. Choose products containing anti-aging ingredients safe for your skin.
- Use a moisturizer after showering or bathing.
- Protect your skin from the sun with sunscreen SPF 30 or higher.
- Don’t smoke.
- Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
- See a dermatologist if you have any concerns about your skin who will evaluate your skin and help you build a skincare routine that works for you — including natural cosmetic treatments, such as Sydnoni Skincare or the best Caudalie products you can get your hands on.
While you can’t control everything that contributes to premature skin aging (including genetic factors), there are habits you can change to take better care of your skin health. By being mindful of these behaviors and making small changes where necessary, you can help keep your skin looking young and healthy for years to come.