Sun damage wreaks havoc on skin. So does smoking. But what else could you be doing to impair your looks and don’t know about? It’s impossible to look youthful forever, but you can thwart time from marching across your face, by not ignoring these possible skin-aging culprits.
As compiled by Prevention magazine, lifescript.com and doctoroz.com, learn how to reverse wrinkles, and follow the easy fixes that can keep your skin looking young and fresh, just like mother nature intended.
You’re too skinny
Sorry girls, there is a downside to being too thin. “Loss of facial fat causes sagging and a gaunt, aged appearance,” says Dermatologist Mary P Lupo, MD, clinical professor of dermatology at Tulane University in New Orleans. Yo-yo dieting is one major cause of premature aging. The repeated weight gain and loss stretches your skin and makes it loose, resulting in an aged appearance.
Skin solution: Maintain a healthy weight with proper diet and exercise. And be sure to feed your face too. “Research shows there are foods that will enhance your appearance from the inside out,” says nutritionist Lisa Drayer RD, author of The Beauty Diet. Omega-3 fatty acids found in foods like wild salmon and walnuts fight wrinkle-causing inflammation, and help keep skin firm. Citrus fruits, and vegetables like spinach, because they’re jam-packed with Vitamin C, enhance collagen production that gives turgidity to your face.
Rubbing your eyes
“Pulling, tugging and rubbing on delicate skin around the eyes can cause darkness,” says dermatologist Jeanine Downie, MD, co-author of Beautiful Skin of Colour and director of Image Dermatology in Montclair, New Jersey. Because skin pigmentation changes as you age, it can add years to your exterior. The skin around the eyes is extremely delicate and fragile, and can wrinkle very easily. Avoid looking older than you are by not damaging it.
Skin solution: If you can’t stop rubbing your eyes, see an allergy specialist to diagnose and treat symptoms. Also, when applying make-up or putting in contact lenses, be gentle with the skin around the eyes. Don’t scrub the area with towels harshly, and stick to dabbing it dry after washing the face. This will help prevent pigment problems and premature aging.
Sleeping on your side
The fetal position of sleeping may be super comfortable and extremely common, but it’s horrifying for your skin. Same applies to snoozing on your stomach. “Pressing your face into the pillow eight hours a night for years can break down skin tissue and cause wrinkles,” Dr. Lupo says.
Skin solution: Get into a habit of falling asleep on your back and flip over if you wake up on your side or stomach. “This decreases swelling or bloating of the face that stretches skin over time,” Dr. Lupo adds.
Sipping out of a straw
Do you drink your sodas and coffee through a straw to prevent staining your pearly whites or to avoid putting your mouth on a can or bottle? It’s causing fine lines around your mouth which is a clear indication of untimely aging. “Over the long-term, pursing your lips to sip out of a straw [or gripping a cigarette with your lips] causes extra wrinkles around the mouth,” says skin care expert Renée Rouleau, creator of skin products and an esthetician to celebrities, including Lisa Rinna and Melissa Rycroft.
Skin solution: Avoid drinking through straws and pour out your beverages in glasses or cups to maintain a youthful wrinkle-free mouth. Who knew this simple trick could shave years off your face.
Ignoring your ears, neck and hands
Our poor neglected neck, hands and ears rarely get any attention, which may be why they’re the first to give away our age. In fact, a 2006 study in the journal Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery found that women whose hands had brown age spots and wrinkles were thought to be older than peers with spot-free hands.
Skin solution: Always apply moisturizer and sun-block on your neck, the ears and on the backs of your hands to prevent premature aging. Your face is not your only noticeable asset.
“Repetitive movements like squinting, laughing and frowning etch lines and wrinkles into your face over the long term,” Dr. Downie says. Plus, exposure to the sun breaks down collagen in the already thin skin around your eyes and can cause brown spots and pigmentation.
Skin solution: Even in winter time, or late afternoon in Pakistan when the sun isn’t so bright, slip on sunglasses with UVA/UVB protection — look for “UV coated” on the label for maximum protection.
Stressing out 24/7
If you’re chronically anxious (or sleep deprived), your body is pumping out stress hormones constantly which can source early aging. “Cortisol, the major stress hormone, breaks down collagen, which leads to sagging skin and wrinkles and causes inflammation,” says Amy Wechsler, M.D., a New York City-based dermatologist and psychiatrist. Also, when your body is in a fight-or-flight state, most nutrients and oxygen go to the major organs, but not the skin. And chronic stress can lead to frown lines and crow’s feet.
Skin solution: Figure out what helps you unwind — a chick flick, or chai with friends and indulge in it regularly. Exercise is another great stress-reliever: It boosts blood flow, bringing oxygen and nutrients to the skin and giving your complexion a flushed glow.
Compiled By Umnia Shahid
Published in The Express Tribune, November 20th, 2014.
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