No matter your age, it’s likely you still feel much the same as you did when you were younger. And while we may not always project the same youthful appearance on the outside that we cling to on the inside, no one likes to think they look older than they actually are.
Unfortunately, the mystical fountain of youth has yet to be discovered, but avoiding certain behaviors that make you look older may mean you can maintain that youthful glow just a little longer. Here are some common behaviors that make you look older than you really are:
- Sun Worship – Ditch the idea that bronze is beautiful. Nothing speeds the aging process faster than soaking up those UV rays, says plastic surgeon Gregory Borah, MD, Professor and Chief Division of Plastic Surgery at UMDNJ Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Jersey. “Sunlight causes the skin to lose elasticity.” That lack of elasticity stems from damage to the skin’s collagen and elastin fibers. Once the skin loses flexibility, it falls victim to premature sagging and wrinkling. Those with light complexions may be even more prone to developing wrinkles from sun damage.
- Smoking – “Smoking leads to long term problems for the skin,” says Dr. Borah. “It can restrict blood flow to the skin by as much as 25 to 35 percent. It’s really the equivalent of starving the skin.” And while the lungs and other organs are often able to recover once a person stops smoking, Borah says the skin is a different story. “It’s unlikely the damage can be reversed once it occurs.”
- Squinting – Certain habits like squinting or frowning can lead to permanent wrinkles. Since the skin isn’t as flexible as it once was, repetitive movements like frowning, smiling or squinting can cause lines to develop.
- Lack of Sleep – As much as 80 percent of the skin is collagen. This protein helps the skin maintain its structure and prevents wrinkles from forming. Studies have shown collagen formation can be affected by sleep deprivation. Lack of sleep can interfere with collagen production and can also lead to the formation of dark circles under the eyes and eye puffiness.
- Skipping the Moisturizer – On their website, the American Academy of Dermatology suggests that moisturizer reduces fine lines and makes your complexion look younger. How? By providing a barrier that seals moisture in the skin.
Although there are a number of myths out there about what causes wrinkles, experts say occasional actions aren’t likely to lead to excess wrinkling, although some habits and behaviors can actually make you look older. Highly repetitive movements – think smiling or frowning – can cause lines to form as skin becomes less forgiving.
The truth is the skin naturally loses some of its elasticity and becomes more fragile as we age. Oil production is reduced, leading to dryness, which can accentuate wrinkles, and facial fat is gradually lost causing skin to sag and droop. Over time, most of us develop at least a few wrinkles but exposure to ultraviolet light and smoking does speed the aging process.
Much of the skin damage caused by the sun occurs at an early age, even though wrinkles don’t show up until later. The best thing you can do for your skin is to develop healthy habits early on and stick with them over the years.
There are a number of medications, surgical procedures and other treatments that can reduce the appearance of wrinkles. Borah recommends those interested in learning more about wrinkle treatments contact a plastic surgeon that has been certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery.