Updated 7/29/20 Most people are aware of all the major behaviors that can cause your skin to age faster. These include tanning (both outdoors and indoors in a tanning bed), lifestyle choices (drugs, alcohol, and smoking), and not protecting yourself from UV rays by wearing sunscreen. You might already avoid these common triggers of premature aging, but what about hidden ways you might be aging your skin?
Hidden Ways You’re Aging Your Skin Faster
These are seven mistakes I commonly see people making. All of them are surprising ways you’re unknowingly aging your skin faster!
1. Not Wearing Sunscreen on Cloudy, Rainy Days or in Fall and Winter
It’s a common misconception that you’re not being exposed to dangerous UV rays when it’s overcast or when temperatures outside drop. The sun’s rays may feel weaker during these times, but don’t let that fool you! The rays that cause premature skin aging and skin cancer (UVA rays) are approximately the same strength year-round and can penetrate through clouds, even on a snowy or rainy day. It’s so important to get in the habit of using a moisturizer with sunscreen built right in. You’ll want to apply it every morning, every day of the year, rain and shine, inside and out. (UVA ray can also penetrate through windows!)
The very best anti-aging product in the entire world is sunscreen. Period. Yes, other products like a well-formulated retinol serum can make a big improvement, but nothing else will be effective unless you’re protecting your skin daily from the harmful rays that are aging your skin.
If you stay up past your usual bedtime, chances are you’ll be yawning more, right? When you yawn, it encourages your eyes to water, which creates swelling and puffiness. This repeated swelling weakens the elasticity of the surrounding tissue by stretching it out, which causes 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.
Before you stay up past your bedtime to watch that one more episode of Netflix or read just one more chapter of your book, consider the side effects. This is just one more reason to get a good night’s rest!
Aside from preventing unnecessary wear and tear on the skin tissue, regular exfoliation under the eyes will help manage dryness and crepey-ness. Also, get in the habit of using a peptide firming eye cream to deliver hydration while helping the quality of your skin.
3. Putting Off Getting Eyeglasses
Anytime you squint your eyes from bright lights or blurry vision, you’re weakening the elastin fibers around the eyes. This 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 may actually be more dangerous than firsthand? Shocking, but true. (I learned this during a cosmetic chemistry course at UCLA.) 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. This leads to premature wrinkling and visible aging. Sadly, I can often tell from an adult person’s skin if they grew up in a home with a heavy smoking parent.
Try to avoid secondhand smoke and always use antioxidants in your skin care products. Studies show that using a potent vitamin C serum every morning under sunscreen will protect skin cells from oxidative damage to keep your skin looking fresh, bright and youthful. Since your skin’s natural antioxidant supply depletes during the day, a product loaded with superfruits and vitamins like Firm + Repair Overnight Serum is important to use a few nights a week.
5. Drinking Out of Straws
Just like squinting, repeated facial expressions and movements will break down collagen and elastin fibers over time. When drinking out of a straw, you have to purse your lips, causing unnecessary lines and wrinkles around the mouth (similar to smoker’s lines). Drinking from a narrow bottle may also cause this to happen. You should drink your beverage from a glass instead so that your mouth doesn’t have to purse so tightly.
Note: I know that some 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. Personally, I think it’s far easier to bleach your teeth with an at-home whitening system than it is to get rid of wrinkles once they appear.
After my face, my teeth are my top priority when it comes to my beauty routine. Learn about my head-to-toe beauty routine, including how I keep my teeth in the best shape possible!
6. Over-Exfoliating Your Skin
With the surge of at-home exfoliating products available, I’ve noticed this trend when using skincare products: if it’s not burning or stinging, it’s not working. And more is better! Sound familiar? In the quest to look younger and have smoother skin, many people are doing way too many aggressive exfoliating treatments. This is actually injuring their skin and causing what is known as a damaged moisture barrier. Results include flaking, redness, dryness, dehydration, inflammation, and possible destruction of healthy cells. Not good at all if your goal is healthy skin!
Every type of skin responds differently to exfoliation but the general rule is, it should not be performed daily. If you suspect you’re over-doing it with your exfoliation, here’s how to repair your skin.
7. Not Cleansing Your Skin in the Morning (I’m Talking to You, Water Rinsers)
Think it’s unnecessary to wash your face in the morning if you cleanse the night before? Wrong. The reason it’s important to wash your skin in the morning is that while you sleep at night, your skin is in repair mode. This causes your skin to secrete toxins and sebum (oil). The benefit of washing your face with a cleanser in the morning is that you’re getting all of that off, along with your nighttime skincare products. This creates a clean slate so your daytime products (especially sunscreen!) can perform their best. You don’t want anything to interfere with proper sun protection.
You have 365 chances a year to get your morning skincare routine perfect. Washing your face in the morning is a key step in ensuring healthy and happy skin. Finally, learn how splashing your face with water is actually damaging your skin.
Avoiding these seven things will most certainly help your skin look and feel its very best. These little changes can add up in a big way over the course of a lifetime.
Celebrity Esthetician & Skincare Expert
As an esthetician trained in cosmetic chemistry, Renée Rouleau has spent 30 years researching skin, educating her audience, and building an award-winning line of products. Trusted by celebrities, editors, bloggers, and skincare obsessives around the globe, her vast real-world knowledge and constant research are why Marie Claire calls her “the most passionate skin practitioner we know.”