5 Habits That Prematurely Age Your Skin

Do you find your skin doesn’t look quite as young as you feel? Taking care of your skin by avoiding specific habits is vital in preventing signs of aging prematurely. Let's look at some habits that can add years to your face.


1. Unprotected Sun Exposure 

Sunlight consists of ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays. UVB rays are responsible for the redness you get when you spend too much time outdoors unprotected. Although UVA rays don't cause sunburn, they penetrate deeper and are more damaging to collagen and elastin, the proteins in the dermis of the skin that protect against skin laxity and wrinkles. Collagen gives your skin support while elastin gives it the ability to "bounce back" and not become loose and saggy. 

How can you protect your own collagen and elastin from ultraviolet light? Don't count on make-up with sunscreen to provide enough protection against the sun's damaging rays. According to studies, sunscreen with an SPF (sun protection factor) of at least 30 and one that blocks UVA and UVB light provides the best protection. Add a hat and sunglasses too. In addition, exposure to the sun can cause DNA mutations in skin cells, thereby increasing the risk of skin cancer. The lighter your skin, the greater your risk from ultraviolet light exposure since melanin is protective.


2. Smoking 

Smoking causes oxidative damage to collagen and elastin, so it's not surprising that puffing on a cigarette is bad for your skin. Research shows that smoking reduces the thickness of both layers of the skin, the epidermis, and the dermis. So significant is the oxidative damage triggered by smoking that smokers have higher vitamin C requirements. Vitamin C is an antioxidant vitamin that helps counter oxidative stress and reduces damage. If you can't quit smoking, at least add more vitamin C-rich foods to your diet.

Twin studies are a dramatic example of the effects of smoking on skin aging. Twins have similar genetics but may have different lifestyle habits. Studies of twins where one smoked and the other didn't showed significant differences in markers of skin aging. The non-smoking twin or the one who stopped smoking had more youthful-appearing skin. Smokers are also more likely to develop wrinkles around the mouth from pursuing the lips to inhale cigarette smoke.


3. Lack of Balanced Nutrition

What you eat can affect how your skin looks too. Since oxidative damage and inflammation contribute to skin aging, eating a diet rich in compounds with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity may have some benefits. For example, studies show beta-carotene, a carotenoid in carrots, modestly reduces the negative effect of ultraviolet light on skin aging. It also reduces inflammation and fights free radicals. A study even found that beta-carotene improves skin elasticity and the appearance of wrinkles.

Collagen peptides also show some promise. Since collagen is the support system that keeps your skin firm, it's not a stretch that boosting collagen might have skin anti-aging benefits. A study in women over 50 found that supplementing with collagen hydrolysate for 4 weeks increased skin elasticity.

Although the role of diet in skin aging is still in its infancy, a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and spices holds the most promise since these foods contain compounds with antioxidant activity.


4. Not Managing Stress 

Have you ever noticed how people under stress appear to age faster? Stress increases cortisol, a stress hormone, which contributes to skin aging. Too much cortisol not only slows wound healing; it makes it harder for your skin to repair itself.


5. Not Sleeping Enough 

Lack of sleep or poor-quality sleep is another way to raise your cortisol level and make it harder for your skin to repair itself. Sleep problems are an epidemic with so many people experiencing stress. Just as it is crucial to have ways to manage stress, make time in your busy schedule to get enough quality sleep. A lack of sleep will make you appear tired short-term, but it could have more serious effects on your skin and appearance over time.


The Bottom Line 

There's a lot you can do to prevent premature skin aging. Most skin aging is due to lifestyle factors rather than genetics, so you have a chance to positively impact how your skin ages through healthy lifestyle habits and sunscreen use. There are many products out there to help treat aging skin and reduce or prevent further signs of aging. Developing a skincare routine to cleanse, hydrate and boost radiance will improve your skin health and support you in looking as young on the outside, as you feel on the inside. 




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