As we all grow older, it’s understood that our boyish good looks fall wayside—no amount of botox, hair retention, or anti-aging products can counter that fact. Sure, a good anti-aging regimen can ensure that you look 10 years younger at 50, but you’re still going to visually age. Memento mori.
The good news is that you have far more control over this pace of aging than you may realize. But it means you have to do far more than adopt a good skin care regimen. You’ve also got to minimize the bad habits that are accelerating things like wrinkles and dark circles.
For a rundown of the bad habits that cause you to look older, we spoke with Dr. Aimee Paik, board-certified dermatologist for Hims & Hers. Here are 10 habits you can cut back on (or eliminate entirely) in order to see substantial, long-lasting results.
That summer sun is hard-earned by the time it rolls around, but you can have too much of a good thing, and in the sun’s case, too much happens quickly. “The sun causes the vast majority of skin changes that people associate with aging,” says Paik. “This includes fine lines, wrinkles, brown spots, leathery skin and blackheads—not to mention that it causes skin cancer.”
So get wise on SPF. Bottom line: “You should protect your skin by applying sunscreen every morning to protect your skin from everyday UV rays,” Paik says. “Reapplication throughout the day is important for sun-intense activities such as hiking, swimming or a day outdoors.” But don’t let that be an invitation to be outside for as many hours as you please, simply because you’re covered in sunscreen. You particularly want to avoid the sun at its highest intensity, which will be between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.
There are studies that show being deficient in vitamin D can increase your risk of skin cancers and inflammatory skin conditions. But being vitamin D deficient isn’t itself a bad habit. It’s more of a bad situation—and what is a poor habit is knowing that this deficiency is occurring yet doing little about it. A simple vitamin D supplement could do more than boost your mood, it could also give you a brighter complexion, and benefit prevent those aforementioned skin maladies.
The solution isn’t necessarily to run out in the sun, either. That would be in direct contest with the first tip on this list. “Vitamin D production by the skin is always created at its own expense,” explains Paik. “The same UV rays that stimulate production of vitamin D also cause skin cancer. A daily vitamin D supplement is a much safer way of obtaining vitamin D.”
Sleep deprivation has some severe consequences on your entire body, and you certainly wear it on your face. Paik points out that this is because being poorly rested is a type of stress for the body, and as you’ll see later in this list, stress is best avoided if you want to look your best and brightest. But that’s not the only trickle-down effect that sleep loss has on your appearance: “Sleep deprivation also leads to poor dietary habits which will also contribute to a more aged appearance,” she says.
Yes, we’re nearly a quarter of the way through the 21st century and are still urging folks to moisturise. This is the most baseline, entry-level form of skincare, and you need to be doing it. Moisturiser traps moisture inside your skin, to keep it firm, supple, and soft all day.
To keep all of your body functions sharp, you need to stay healthy. We already discussed getting ample rest, and one other tenet of being healthy is staying active. Regular exercise will boost circulation around your body, and in turn boost nutrient delivery to your cells. This improves hair health and retention, as well as ensures regular cellular turnover across the surface of your skin—and thus the brightest, smoothest, clearest complexion possible.
Stress comes in all shapes and sizes. It can be a high-pressure job. It can be a quarrel with a loved one. It can be an ongoing illness or a one-off bout. And ongoing stress in any shape or form can have a lasting impact, and not just next-day puffy eyes. It can disappear your hairline at record speeds, or even your skin’s collagen production, which leads to stress lines across the brow, crow’s feet at the eyes, plus duller skin and rougher texture. It can also cause acne due to a flux in hormones, and as you age, hyperpigmentation increases—which means the aftermath of those pimples can stay on your face for half a year or more.
Another tenet of being healthy is having a healthy diet. You didn’t need us to tell you that, but add “aging faster” as one primary reason to cut back on processed junk food.
A glass of wine or a cold pint are the perfect way to unwind after a stressful day. But know that alcohol can take a seriously bad toll on your entire body—from skin to hair to everything underneath. Moderation is key—and, unfortunately, it seems like there’s no level of drinking that’s good for you, never mind all the hype about antioxidants in red wine.
“Smoke induces the same exact cellular changes that UV rays do to damage the skin, which is why smokers exhibit rapid aging,” says Paik.
You’ve got to stay hydrated in order to keep your entire body up to par, but on a superficial level, you’ve also got to stay hydrated in order to keep your skin clear, firm, bright, and smooth.