All those little habits you have that lead to wrinkles cause what’s known as extrinsic aging. Two of the biggest culprits are getting a lot of sun exposure (which makes up about 90 percent of skin aging) and smoking. But, a number of seemingly benign habits can also make you look older.
Fortunately, you can undo some of the damage by putting a stop to these habits or by seeing a specialist who can advise you on the right treatment for your skin.
If you’re like many people, when you see a pimple, you want it to go away immediately. Unfortunately, trying to pick at or peel off the pimple usually does more harm than good. It not only increases the chances that you’ll get additional pimples nearby, it also puts you at risk for scarring in the area or for hyperpigmentation.
Teaching yourself not to pick at your pimples is a good way to avoid the damage a popped blemish can do. If you already have scarring from pimples or spotting on your skin, a treatment such as a chemical peel can help. The peel will exfoliate your skin, helping to remove areas of discoloration or scar tissue.
Laser skin resurfacing can also help reduce age spots or other evidence of picking pimples. The laser destroys the top layer of skin, causing new, more youthful looking skin to grow in its place.
Using a Drinking Straw
You may use a drinking straw because it helps keep your teeth white and reduces tooth decay, especially when you drink something dark colored or sugary. But, frequent use of a straw can give you lines around your lips and mouth, similar to the puckered look people get when they smoke. Drinking out of a water bottle or other type of bottle can also lead to wrinkles around the mouth.
If you’ve noticed lines around your mouth, there’s no way to permanently reverse them. But, an injectable filler such as Juvederm can help fill them in. The results from Juvederm will last for up to a year. You can get repeat injections to maintain your results.
Having a Sweet Tooth
Sugar has gotten a bad reputation in recent years, not only from the nutritional community. It also plays a part in the aging process through something called glycation. In the body, sugar molecules connect to protein and fat, forming advanced glycation end products (AGEs). The protein then becomes stiff and weak. When glycation occurs in collagen (a type of protein), the wrinkles and lines form on the skin. A diet high in sugar also plays a part in the development of under eye circles and in the general dulling of skin that happens over time.
Cutting back on refined sugar will help slow down glycation. Injections such as Radiesse, which stimulate collagen production in the body, can also help slow down the process.
Having a Few Too Many at Happy Hour
A cocktail a day probably won’t do much to age you. But, drinking several cocktails a day can have an affect on the way you look. Alcohol plays a part in aging you in a few ways.
First of all, it dehydrates you, which can make your skin look drier. One way to counteract the dehydrating effects of alcohol is to drink water when you drink a cocktail or two. Alcohol also increases the size of your blood vessels when your body metabolizes it, which can lead to puffiness and swelling as well as redness.
Drinking a lot can also deplete the nutrients your body needs. For example, alcohol flushes out antioxidants such as vitamin A, which play an important role in the production of collagen.
You don’t have to stop drinking if your doctor has said it’s fine for you. Just remember to keep an eye on how much you drink at any one time.
You Sleep on Your Side
Not getting enough sleep on a regular basis can make you look older. The way you sleep can also play a part in the aging process. If your favorite way to sleep is curled up on one side, you might notice wrinkles on that side of the face before the other side. As the levels of collagen in your skin decrease, those wrinkles might be more likely to stay.
You can reduce the development of wrinkles on one side of the face by changing your sleeping position. Since going from a side to a back sleeper is easier said than done, another option is to pick out bed linens that are smooth or less prone to bunch. A silk or satin pillowcase is often enough to keep the wrinkles or pillow lines away.
Dr. Jessica Kulak at the Naderi Center specializes in remedying aging in the face. She’s available to answer your questions about the habits that might be making you look older. To schedule a consultation with Dr. Kulak, call (703) 481-0002 in Virginia or (301) 222-2020 in Maryland.