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 fact of life and, quite frankly, something that’s unavoidable. And that’s why we’re all for owning your age and embracing those new lines that crop up as you get older. That being said, it’s important to remember that there are both intrinsic and extrinsic causes of aging. The intrinsic ones are those that you can’t control—AKA the passage of time and your genetics. The extrinsic ones are the ones you can control—a litany of external factors that have a direct impact on your skin. You’re likely aware of some of the more commonly talked-about ones, sun exposure being the biggie. But there are plenty of other, seemingly innocuous, daily habits and activities that you may not be aware are making your skin look older. Here, skincare experts weigh on seven of these surprising aging culprits.
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 end up aging your skin? Those breakouts cause inflammation in the skin, which exacerbates aging, explains skin care expert and surgeon Dr. Jessica Wright, owner of Rejuvenate Austin, a med-spa in Austin, Texas. Secondly, if you’re not cleansing your skin thoroughly, any anti-aging serums or lotions you use at night are unable to penetrate effectively, she adds. The bottom line: Nightly face-washing is a non-negotiable. But on that note...
How you wash your face and take off your makeup 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 this can ultimately further the development of lines and wrinkles. In order to mitigate the need for lots of scrubbing, she suggests washing your face in the shower, after you’ve let your skin get super wet for about five minutes. Then, follow a two-step process. Use a gentle micellar water first to remove any makeup, followed by a gentle cleanser to wash off any leftover dirt or oil.
Remember how we talked about inflammation as an aging trigger? Well, sugar induces major inflammation throughout your body, the 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, CA. It triggers a process known as glycation and the production of advanced glycation end products, aptly-dubbed 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, for sure, but try to limit your sugar intake as much as possible, instead opting for antioxidant-rich fruits when a sweet craving hits (or, at the very least, pick dark chocolate over milk chocolate).
So yes, you probably know that sun exposure is very aging. But did you know how quickly that sun exposure can add up, and that it’s not just unprotected beach days that are the culprit? Think of that quick trip to the grocery store, say 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 to counteract all of this incidental, unexpected exposure is to get in the habit of applying sunscreen every morning, even if you’re not planning on leaving the house, as well as keeping a powder sunscreen in your car for quickie, on-the-go touch-ups, they say.
“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 these perma-lines. Avoid drinking out of a straw, which also leads to these lines, she says. And since pursing your lips is so involuntary for many, you may want to consider a neuromodulator injection, like Botox, to relax that muscle so the movement isn’t as prominent, she says.
We get it—everyone is attached to tech devices these days. But there are a bunch of skin-related issues that can pop up as a result. First, there’s the matter of high-energy visible light, AKA HEV, AKA the blue light that’s emitted from electronic screens. “That blue light can penetrate even deeper into the skin than the sun’s UV rays, leading to collagen breakdown and even discoloration,” explain Moss and Sundick. Along with limiting screen time, using a protective antioxidant serum, skincare formulated for blue light protection, and setting your phone to night mode can all be helpful. Constantly squinting at your device can also be problematic, increasing the formation of wrinkles around the eyes, adds Dr. Icecreamwala. And 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, make sure that one, you get your eyes checked so you don’t have to squint, and two, are using the same anti-aging products on your neck as you are on your face.
Ever look at someone and think how youthful they look—and then see what their hands look like and are 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 Moss and Sundick. The solution is simple: Simply apply any skincare product you’re using onto the back of your hands. You don’t even need to make it a whole separate step; simply wiping any product that’s left over after you complete your facial routine onto the backs of your hands can make a big difference, they say.