Experts Say These 7 Things Will Make Your Skin Look Older

If anti-aging is your primary skincare goal, you’ll want to read this.

Aging is a simple, unavoidable fact of life, and we're all for owning it. That being said, it's important to distinguish between intrinsic and extrinsic causes of aging. We can't control the intrinsic ones, like the passage of time and your genetics, but we can control the extrinsic ones—a long list of external factors that directly impact our skin. We know the commonly talked-about ones, like sun exposure, but there are plenty more seemingly innocuous habits and activities making your skin look older. Our skincare experts weigh in on seven of these surprising skin-aging culprits.

01 of 07

Sleeping in Your Makeup

It's no surprise that not washing your face before bedtime is a recipe for clogged pores and breakouts, but did you know that it can also age your skin? Skin care expert and surgeon Dr. Jessica Wright, owner of Rejuvenate Austin, a med-spa in Austin, Texas, explains that those breakouts cause skin inflammation, which exacerbates aging.

Secondly, she adds, if you're not cleansing your skin thoroughly, any anti-aging serums or lotions you apply at night are unable to penetrate effectively.

The bottom line: Nightly face-washing is a non-negotiable. But on that note...

02 of 07

Overzealous Makeup Removal

How you wash your face is also important. "It's critical to think of your skin, especially the skin around your eyes, as a delicate tissue. Do not pull or tug this skin," cautions Dr. Wright, as that can ultimately further the development of lines and wrinkles.

To avoid excessive scrubbing, she suggests washing your face in the shower. Get your skin super wet for about five minutes, and then follow this two-step process: 1) Use a gentle micellar water to remove makeup, and 2) Use a gentle cleanser to wash off leftover dirt or oil.

03 of 07

Snacking on Sugar

Remember how we talked about inflammation as an aging trigger? Well, sugar induces inflammation in your body, skin included. "This inflammation leads to an early breakdown of collagen, and ultimately the appearance of wrinkles and aged skin," explains Devika Icecreamwala, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in Berkeley, California.

Sugar consumption triggers glycation, a process that produces advanced glycation end-products (aptly named AGEs). "These form when proteins or lipids are exposed to high levels of sugar in the blood. Your immune system doesn't recognize these molecules, and inflammation ensues, having an aging effect on all of your cells," adds Dr. Wright.

Easier said than done, but we'll say it anyway: Limit your sugar intake, opting for antioxidant-rich fruits when a sweet craving hits (or at least, pick dark chocolate over milk chocolate).

RELATED: 7 Ways to Break a Sugar Addiction and Curb Cravings for Good

04 of 07

Sun Exposure, Even in Snippets

OK, we know sun exposure is aging, but did you know how quickly short, unprotected excursions in the sun add up? Think of all those quick trips to the grocery store. According to Brooke Moss and Lauren Sundick, dermatology physician's assistants and founders of The Skin Sisters, "It amounts to two to three minutes of sun exposure walking in, two to three when you're walking out, not to mention the aging UVA rays that go right through the glass of your car window."

Your best bet for counteracting incidental, unexpected exposure is to routinely apply sunscreen every morning, even if you're inside all day, the sisters say. They also recommend keeping a powder sunscreen in your car for quickie, on-the-go touch-ups.

RELATED: 10 Sunscreen Mistakes Even Smart People Make

05 of 07

Pursing your Lips

"About 90 percent of my patients have tiny vertical lines around their lip, smoker's lines, even though they've never smoked," says Dr. Wright. So what gives? Repeatedly pursing your lips, often without even knowing it, creates those perma-lines.

Avoid drinking out of a straw, which also leads to those lines, according to Dr. Wright. Since pursing your lips is often involuntary, consider a neuromodulator injection, like Botox, to relax that muscle so the movement isn't as prominent, she adds.

RELATED: Over 10,000 Amazon Shoppers Love This $7 Firming and Line-Reducing Serum

06 of 07

Constant Screen Time

We're all attached to tech devices these days, and skin-related issues can pop up as a result. First, is high-energy visible light (HEV). "That blue light can penetrate even deeper into the skin than the sun's UV rays, leading to collagen breakdown and even discoloration," explain the sisters.

Along with limiting screen time, use a protective antioxidant serum (which is a skincare product formulated for blue light protection) and set your phone to night mode.

Constantly squinting at your device can also be problematic, increasing the formation of wrinkles around the eyes, according to Dr. Icecreamwala. On top of that, "looking down at your device can lead to 'tech neck,' when the skin around the neck and jawline becomes saggy and etched with horizontal lines," she says. To combat these issues: 1) Get your eyes checked so you don't have to squint, and 2) Use the same anti-aging products on your neck as you use on your face.

07 of 07

Ignoring your Hands

Ever look at someone and think how youthful they look—and saw that their hands looked aged and were totally shocked? "The hands are often forgotten, but they can show similar signs of aging as you'd see on the face—wrinkles, crepiness, and brown spots," say the sisters.

The solution is simple: Apply any leftover facial skincare product onto the back of your hands. It can make a big difference.

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  1. Fajstova A, Galanova N, Coufal S, et al. Diet rich in simple sugars promotes pro-inflammatory response via gut microbiota alteration and TLR4 signaling. Cells. 2020;9(12):2701. doi:10.3390/cells9122701

  2. Nguyen HP, Katta R. Sugar sag: Glycation and the role of diet in aging skin. Skin Therapy Lett. 2015;20(6):1-5.

  3. Mann T, Eggers K, Rippke F, et al. High-energy visible light at ambient doses and intensities induces oxidative stress of skin-Protective effects of the antioxidant and Nrf2 inducer Licochalcone A in vitro and in vivo. Photodermatol Photoimmunol Photomed. 2020;36(2):135-144. doi:10.1111/phpp.12523

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