Habits That Age You

Habits That Age YouWhen it comes to our looks, many of us spend a small fortune and a ton of effort trying to slow down the signs of aging. Certain lifestyle habits can keep wrinkles from appearing before their time. 

  • Stop smoking. It’s age-old advice that bears repeating: Smoking is bad for you. On the inside, it damages your lungs, heart and brain. On the outside, it robs your skin of the oxygen that helps maintain a healthy, youthful glow. In fact, smoking can cause your skin to take on a gray or orange tint. It can also affect your teeth and hair in ways that make you look much older.
    • Fix it: The more you smoke, the faster your skin ages. However, when you stop smoking, the positive effects kick in quickly. The skin starts getting more oxygen and nutrients so your complexion is healthier. You’ll also keep from aging your skin even more. So, save your life and your looks.  
  • Cover up. Whether you’re having fun in the sun or hanging out in the shade, ultraviolet rays can damage unprotected skin, or worse, cause skin cancer.
    • Fix it: Slather on a broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 15 every time you head outside, even on partly cloudy or cool days. Most people remember to put it on their faces, but don’t forget your neck and hands (and all other exposed skin). Sunscreen can’t turn back time, but it can prevent further damage.
  • Relax. Dark circles, wrinkles, acne, brittle nails and hair loss are just a few of the side effects of long-term stress that can make you look older. Chronic stress also can cause high blood pressure; compromise your immune system; and impact your memory and mood, making you feel older. In some cases, women who endured long-term stress, appeared to look 10 years older.
    • Fix it: One recent study showed that women who handle stress fairly well didn’t show signs of additional aging. Find some stress management moves that work for you. Try deep breathing, meditation, yoga, kick-boxing, Zumba  or other ways to unwind.
  • Hang with your girls. Making times for friends often falls to the bottom of the to-do list. Still, it’s important to get some girl time on your calendar. Friends keep you young. They make you laugh, help you cry and reenergize you in a way no one else can.
    • Fix it: Sometimes getting everyone together can be a feat of epic proportions, but you can make it happen. For those in-between times, stay connected on social media by posting, commenting and sharing (just “Liking” a posting doesn’t count).
  • Stifle the sweet tooth. A steady diet of sugar will widen your waistline, and it may make your skin dull, saggy and wrinkly. On average, Americans consume 20 teaspoons of sugar every day . The recommended amount for women ? 6 teaspoons. When sugar enters the bloodstream as glucose, it attaches to collagen and elastin proteins and forms advanced-glycation end products, or AGEs. The AGEs damage the proteins, which keep your skin firm and springy, and your skin suffers.
    • Fix it: Cut back on added sugars, which hide in processed foods. Do your homework and brush up on other names for sugar. High-fructose corn syrup, glucose, fructose, sucrose and dextrin are just a few of its many aliases.
  • Get off the roller coaster. Repeatedly gaining and losing weight quickly takes a toll on your appearance. Often called yo-yo dieting, rapid weight fluctuation causes the shape of your face to change, making you look older.
    • Fix it: Work with your primary care doctor to determine your ideal weight, then create a healthy diet and exercise plan that can help you reach your goal and maintain it.
  • Loosen up. It’s hard to focus on your workout when your hair is flying or sticking to your sweaty forehead. But, pulling it into a tight ponytail can cause a receding hairline.
    • Fix it: Once it starts, there’s not much you can do to stop a hairline that’s in retreat. Try wearing a looser ponytail and using a thickening shampoo to give the illusion of healthy hair.