Updated 9/7/14. By now, most people are aware of the things that will cause premature wrinkles on our skin: sun tanning (both outdoors and indoors in a tanning bed), drugs, alcohol and smoking. Knowing this, you probably avoid these in an effort to save your skin, but you just might be surprised at some of the ways you are unknowingly aging your skin faster. As a skin care expert and celebrity esthetician with 25 years of hands-on experience, I can confidently tell you that avoiding these will slow down the visible skin aging process.
#1 Not wearing sunscreen in winter
Think you’re not exposed to the dangerous rays caused from UV light because you’re not outdoors as much? Think again. There are two types of rays: UVA and UVB. The UVB rays (the ones that cause your skin to burn or tan) aren’t as strong in the winter months, therefore your skin is at less risk for a sunburn. However, UVA rays (the ones that cause skin aging and skin cancer) are approximately the same strength year round and can penetrate through clouds, even on a snowy, winter day. Daily use of sunscreen is an absolute must if you’re concerned about preventing wrinkles and skin cancer. Every day of the year, rain or shine, inside or out, harmful UV rays come through windows in your office, home or car. Make sure your moisturizer contains a sunscreen, so you only need to apply one product. Don’t forget, the best anti-aging product in the world is sunscreen. Period. If your skin is oily and acne prone, I recommend Daily Protection SPF 30 and if your skin is normal or dry, use Age Defense Moisturizer SPF 30.
If you stay up past your usual bedtime, chances are you’ll be yawning more. When you yawn, the act encourages your eyes to water, which creates swelling and puffiness both at night and in the morning when you wake up. This excess fluid around the eyes weakens the elasticity of the surrounding tissue, causing an acceleration of wrinkles. The loss of elasticity is like a rubber band that’s been stretched repeatedly: at some point, it doesn’t snap back anymore, and this is what happens to the eye area. So before you stay up past your bedtime to watch that last show or to read just one more chapter, consider the side effects. This is just one more reason to get a good night’s rest. It’s called ‘beauty sleep’ for a reason.
#3 Putting off getting eye glasses
Speaking of the eye area, anytime you squint your eyes unnecessarily from bright lights or blurry vision, you’re also weakening the elastin fibers around the eyes and this too will accelerate the appearance of lines and wrinkles. Schedule an annual exam and get prescription glasses (if needed) to stay squint-free. Also, be sure to wear sunglasses whenever outdoors.
#4 Exposing yourself to secondhand smoke
Did you know that secondhand smoke is actually more dangerous than firsthand? Shocking, but true. The components in secondhand smoke are more concentrated, since there is no filter at the end of the cigarette. The levels of nicotine, tar, nitric oxide and carbon monoxide are at least twice as high in secondhand smoke. So what does this mean for your skin? Simply put, you’re getting much of the skin damage that smokers can get, if not more, and you’re not even a smoker. Among many things, secondhand smoke affects the skin greatly because collagen-destroying enzymes (MMPs) ramp up when exposed to tobacco smoke, causing increased wrinkling and visible aging. Try to avoid secondhand smoke and be sure to use antioxidants in your skin care products. I highly suggest using Vitamin C&E Treatment every morning under sunscreen to protect skin cells from damage.
#5 Drinking out of straws
Just like squinting, repeated facial expressions and movements will break down collagen and elastin fibers. When drinking out of a straw, you have to purse your lips, causing unnecessary lines and wrinkles around the mouth. Drinking from a narrow bottle may also cause this to happen. I recommend that you drink your beverage from a glass instead, so that your mouth doesn’t have to purse so tightly. Note: I know that dentists suggest drinking out of straws to prevent liquids from staining your teeth, so this is a choice that you have to make for yourself. I think it’s far easier to bleach your teeth with an at-home whitening system than it is to slow down wrinkles.
#6 Over-exfoliating your skin
With the abundance of at-home exfoliating products available these days, I’ve noticed this trend when using skin care products: if it’s not burning or stinging, it’s not working. Sound familiar? In the quest to look younger and have smoother skin, people are doing too many aggressive exfoliating treatments that are actually injuring their skin. Too much exfoliation can cause a damaged moisture barrier. Results include flaking, dehydration and inflammation, possible destruction of healthy cells, and a stimulation of melanin activity causing increased hyper pigmentation. Every type of skin responds differently to exfoliation but at the very least, exfoliation with facial scrubs, acids or at-home peels shouldn’t be performed every day. Do you use the Clarisonic brush twice daily? Not good. Read my review of the Clarisonic brush.
#7 Not cleansing your skin in the morning
Think it’s unnecessary to wash your face in the morning since your skin is clean from the night before? Wrong. The reason it’s important to wash your skin in the morning is because while you sleep at night, your skin is in repair mode and will secrete toxins and sebum which can prevent your daytime products from working most effectively. When you wash your skin in the morning, you’re removing those, as well as your nighttime products so your daytime products (particularly SPF moisturizer) can get into the skin more effectively. Simply put, washing your skin in the morning gives it a clean slate. Also, the nighttime products on your skin often contain ingredients that are suitable only for your evening regimen, such as acids and retinol. These should be cleansed from the skin to avoid any reactions or potential irritation. Washing your face in the morning is a key step in ensuring healthy, calm and youthful-looking skin.
Read: Cleanser Do’s and Don’ts
Bottom line, it’s much easier and less expensive to prevent wrinkles than to erase them. Trust me on this one!
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