Your skin is a very unique part of your body because it responds to both internal and external stressors. This means that many of your daily habits have an impact on your skin, whether you know it or not.
You are probably already familiar with certain habits that support youthful-looking skin. Drinking plenty of water, for example, is a must to keep skin looking plump, healthy, and hydrated. Getting too much UV exposure, on the other hand, is a recipe for dark spots, accelerated wrinkling, and other signs of aging.
However, there are also some lesser-known habits that are likely having an impact on your skin right now. Without realizing it, you could be making your complexion look older than it is through your everyday habits.
To help you determine if you are unwittingly contributing to premature skin aging, here’s a look at 15 habits that have a sneaky impact on your skin. Some of them are sure to surprise you!
Little-Known Habits That Contribute to Skin Aging
Using the Wrong Soap
The main purpose of soap is to cleanse your skin, getting rid of dirt, dead skin cells, and other debris. But not all soap is created equal.
Many soaps on the market, particularly facial cleansers, strip your skin of healthy oils along with dirt and debris. They can also contain certain types of surfactants that weaken skin barrier function. Worse still, these surfactant molecules frequently remain on your skin even after rinsing.
Eventually, your skin will respond to this type of soap with irritation and dryness that make signs of aging look much more noticeable.
To avoid this, look for natural soap that contains both cleansing and moisturizing ingredients— like aloe vera and plant-based oils. Also, use lukewarm water to wash your face so that you don’t dry your skin out.
Exfoliation is usually considered a good thing when it comes to skincare. In the right amount, it does contribute to more youthful-looking skin by getting rid of dead skin cells, unclogging pores, and brightening your complexion.
But in this case, more is not better.
If you use physical or chemical exfoliators too regularly, you can end up damaging your skin barrier. This leads to sensitivity, irritation, and dryness— all of which contribute to older-looking skin.
Over-exfoliation can also make your skin more sensitive to toxins and other stressors, like UV rays, which again can prematurely age your skin.
Everyone is different when it comes to exfoliation, but just 2-3 times a week is sufficient for most complexions. If you find your skin is still sensitive, drop to once a week.
Leaving on Makeup Residue
If you wear makeup, you’re likely aware that sleeping in it is not great for your skin. However, even allowing the residue to sit on your skin through the night is problematic for your complexion.
It’s not uncommon to rush through makeup removal as you get ready to fall into bed. But anything that gets left behind has the potential to clog pores and allow dead skin cells to buildup, which leads to dull- and lifeless-looking skin in the long run.
Use a quality makeup remover to carefully remove all traces of your makeup before bedtime. Then, follow this up with a gentle, moisturizing cleanser to make sure your pores are fully unclogged and cleansed.
Using Toxic Cosmetics & Skincare Products
Here’s another way both soap and makeup can age your skin: By containing toxic chemicals.
The fact that many cosmetics and skincare products contain toxins is no secret anymore. Women apply an estimated 168 different chemicals to their skin everyday through these products. This includes chemicals that can be absorbed into your body and increase your risk of hormone disruption, cancer, and much more.
What you may not know is that these same toxins can also make your skin look older.
Any chemical that affects your hormones (like parabens, phthalates, and fragrance chemicals) has the potential to speed up aging because hormones are very important to skin health. Even “normal” ingredients like alpha and beta hydroxy acids can make your skin more sensitive to UV radiation— a big age-accelerator.
To keep your skin young-looking, carefully read labels to avoid the top cosmetics toxins. Also, buy USDA Certified Organic products to ensure no pesticides, fertilizers, GMOs, etc. were used.
Eating Toxins in Food
You may know that pesticide residue, artificial ingredients, and other chemicals in food are toxic for your health. But did you also know that they are toxic for your skin and can make it look older than it is?
This goes back to one principle: Whatever affects your health as a whole also affects your skin.
Not only is your skin affected by hormones (and there are many endocrine disruptors out there), it’s also connected to your gut. This means that chemicals that disrupt digestion or impair nutrient absorption will directly impact your skin.
Especially beware of consuming too many processed foods. Not only are they short on nutrients and typically full of chemical additives, they also tend to have little to no moisture content, depriving your skin of a premium nutrient— water.
And, of course, buy USDA Organic whenever possible.
Loading Up on Sugar
Sugar isn’t technically a toxin, but it can be one of the worst food ingredients for your complexion.
In your body, sugar is involved in glycation, which is a reaction of sugars with proteins, DNA, and lipids that results in the formation of advanced glycation end products (AGEs). Essentially, glycation leads to impaired protein function, including collagen damage, and loss of skin elasticity.
This has a MAJOR impact on skin aging and can accelerate it dramatically if your sugar levels are constantly high.
Of course, eating some sugar is fine— particularly if it comes from whole fruits, honey, etc.— but avoid excessive amounts, especially too much refined sugar.
Skimping on Sleep (or Sleeping a Certain Way)
Sleep is when your body repairs itself, including your skin. It should come as no surprise, then, that sleep deprivation is associated with increased signs of aging like wrinkles, fine lines, reduced elasticity, and uneven skin tone.
So if you want younger-looking skin, get to bed on time and look into practices that help you fall and stay asleep.
But simply getting more sleep isn’t the end of the story.
How you sleep also affects the appearance of wrinkles on your face. Side and stomach sleepers are prone to something known as “mechanical compression” in which the skin develops lines and wrinkles from being pressed against the pillow. According to one study, stomach sleepers are mostly likely to develop these age lines.
The type of pillow fabric you sleep on can also affect your complexion.
Organic cotton is a great bedding material in general, but it can pull moisture out of your skin, drying it out. If your skin tends towards the dry side, you may want to choose a different type of pillow case.
Exposing Your Neck & Hands to the Sun
Sunlight is essential for vitamin D production, but exposing your skin to too much of it is one of the biggest accelerators of skin aging.
Ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun damage your skin at the cellular level, particularly when you get burned. This leads to all the major signs of aging: wrinkles, fine lines, dark spots, roughness, and so on.
Many people know this fact but nevertheless fall into a bad habit by applying sunscreen to their face and forgetting their neck and hands.
Remember, your face isn’t the only part of your body that shows signs of aging. The skin on your neck, in particular, is much like an extension of your face. It too can become dry, wrinkled, “crepe-papery”, and generally weathered, but it usually gets overlooked where protective measures are concerned.
When you plan to be out in the sun for a long period of time, be sure to apply a natural sunscreen to your neck and hands to keep them young-looking. (Non nanoparticle zinc sunblock is best.) And don’t forget to protect your hands from UV rays while driving!
Not Managing Stress
Chronic stress affects every part of your life, including your health and your skin.
Feeling stressed all the time can trigger numerous skin problems, including accelerated aging. Researchers believe this most likely happens because of the hormones your body produces under stress as well as increased inflammation.
Now, managing stress is challenging, but it’s also essential if you want to avoid premature skin aging.
There are numerous holistic tactics out there to reduce the impact of stress. They range from taking stress-reducing herbs, particularly adaptogens, to meditation and aromatherapy.
The bottom line is that you should make stress reduction a priority— and you may be amazed at how your skin responds!
Using Too Many Electronic Devices
It’s no secret that we are in the age of technology. But it’s still important to be mindful of how often you use electronic devices, particularly for the sake of your skin.
Electronic devices can accelerate skin aging in two major ways.
First, most of them emit blue light, which you may have heard of in connection to sleep (i.e. too much of it can disrupt your sleep cycle). A lesser known fact is that blue light can actually penetrate into the deeper layers of your skin, possibly more so than UV rays. This is believed to contribute to premature skin aging.
In addition, most people don’t have great posture when using electronic devices. Believe it or not, this can lead to neck wrinkles or creases that have been dubbed “tech neck”.
In short, it’s best to limit the time you spend using electronics or at least install a blue light filter on your devices. And practice better posture!
Repeated facial movements are one of the ways wrinkles form. In this case, squinting causes grooves to form in the skin around your eyes, which can eventually become wrinkles and crow’s feet if you do it often enough.
One of the most common “bad habits” that leads to squinting is not wearing glasses or corrective lenses if you need them. This ensures that you will almost constantly be squinting to some degree, even if you’ve convinced yourself you can see just fine.
Connecting back to the previous section, staring at a screen for too long can also cause squinting, particularly when your eyes get tired and strained. A good reason to take screen breaks— and to wear those glasses or contacts.
Sitting Down Too Much
A sedentary lifestyle isn’t good for any aspect of your health. And research is now showing that sitting down for too long is actually aging your body. In fact, one study even suggested that sedentary women were biologically older by 8 years than women who exercised more frequently.
If your body is aging more quickly than it should, this means your skin is also going to look prematurely old.
Not only does exercise contribute to overall longevity, it also encourages blood circulation. This helps oxygen and essential nutrients to be pumped to your skin on a regular basis. Some very recent research even suggests that exercise may help with better skin hydration.
So to look and feel younger, get your body moving more often!
Sipping from a Straw
If you frequently sip beverages with a straw, you may be causing fine lines to appear around your mouth. This seemingly innocent habit creases the skin around your mouth in the same pattern every time. Eventually, these temporary creases can turn into more permanent lines, making your skin look older.
Of course, that doesn’t mean you have to swear off using straws for good. But unless a straw is absolutely necessary, you may want to go without.
Rubbing Your Eyes
The skin around your eyes is the most delicate part of your face. That’s why signs of aging like wrinkles, fine lines, dark circles, and bags often show up there first.
To keep your eyes youthful-looking, it’s very important that you treat the skin around them gently. Frequent eye rubbing does just the opposite and can lead to irritation and dryness that accelerates wrinkle formation. Tugging or stretching this area of skin can also make dark circles and bags more visible.
Again, this doesn’t mean you should never rub your eyes. But if it’s something you do often, find a way to break the habit.
Using Skincare Products in the Wrong Order
Using high quality anti-aging products that nourish your skin is key for a youthful complexion. However, if you use these products in the wrong order, you may be losing most of their benefits.
For example, applying a moisturizer or an oil before targeted anti-aging products can greatly decrease their effectiveness. Moisturizers are designed to lock moisture into your skin, which means they also lock other molecules out— even the good ones!
In general, the best anti-aging skincare regimen should start with a gentle cleanser. After that, apply your eye cream (if using one) followed by targeted products like serums. Finish with a moisturizing lotion or cream to seal in both moisture and all the wonderful ingredients you just applied.
Turning Back the Clock on Bad Skin Habits
Now that you know more about the lesser-known habits that may be making your skin age prematurely, the question is: Do you do any of them?
If you do one or even a few of these regularly, there’s no need to despair. You can, of course, start by adjusting your daily habits, but there are also ways to “turn back the clock” on damage already done.
At the top of the list is feeding your body tons of nutrients through whole plant foods. Equally important is developing a nightly skincare routine that “feeds” your skin anti-aging ingredients. Sleep is when your skin does the most repair work, so this is the essential time to treat your skin.
If you are in need of a do-it-all rejuvenator, look into the Age-Defying Night Cream from Purity Woods.
Using this cream as the final step of your nightly routine will lock in hydration and quickly diminish signs of aging like wrinkles, fine lines, dark spots, and dullness. It contains 20+ pure botanical ingredients that are rich in anti-aging nutrients. The entire formula is also USDA Certified Organic, which means no toxins, synthetic ingredients, or GMOs.
Learn more about the Age-Defying Night Cream here, and don’t forget to check your daily routine for “skin-aging habits”.