Be on the know: habits that make you look older


Just like death and taxes, growing older is inevitable. But aging before your time? That’s something you can control.

Turns out, many everyday habits could age you prematurely. Often, these behaviors could make you physically appear much older than your years. And that’s a big problem: An aging face is one of the most common insecurities men seek to correct cosmetically through creams, peels and Botox injections, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. In 2016, more than seven million botulinum toxin injections, the ingredient in Botox and Dysport, were performed in men.

But you could avoid relying on expensive creams and procedures if you focus your efforts on preventing prevent premature aging.

And yet, some people in their 60s look like they’re in their 40s, while some people in their 30s look like they’re in their 50s. So what gives?

Some lucky individuals do end up hitting the genetic jackpot, but lifestyle choices and daily habits play a big role in the aging process. These are just a few of the habits you should break right now if you want to look bright and wrinkle-free well into your life’s later chapters.Nix these eight habits from your routine to stay young.

  • Sleep deprivation

Sleep can help you look younger for longer, according to Zeichner. He explains that our skin cells function on a circadian rhythm, similar to the sleep-wake cycle that makes us tired at night and wakes us up in the morning.

At night, these cells work to repair damage it endured during the day, he says, like being exposed to sunlight, pollution, or a breakout. Skimping on sleep throws the entire process off, and your skin can’t prep for the next day, says Zeichner. Your skin gets stressed and is unable to complete the repair process, ultimately leading to less healthy cells and premature aging.

Try to clock in at least eight hours a night, he suggests. Before you plop into your bed, make sure you apply moisturizer to your entire body, since your skin can get dehydrated as you sleep. Dry, inflamed skin doesn’t function properly, limiting its ability to heal itself overnight, says Zeichner

It’s been barely a hot second since we talked about sleep deprivation, so we won’t get into explicit detail here, but let’s just say that without a solid 8 hours, you can kiss your youthful, elastic, pimple-free skin goodbye.

  • smoking

There’s nothing like a good twins study to show the physical effects of a bad habit, and that’s exactly what a 2013 study published in the Plastic and Reproductive Surgery journal sought to uncover in regards to smoking… and the results were jarring (you can check out some of the pictures in this CNN article). In addition to some very clear comparison pictures that demonstrate the additional wrinkles and baggy eyelids experienced by the smoking twin, the study found that as little as a five-year difference in smoking history “can cause noticeable differences in facial aging in twins.” Even if you don’t have a doppelganger to compare your facial aging to, you can pretty much count on smoking’s negative impact when it comes to premature aging.

Before your light another cigarette, keep in mind that your lungs aren’t the only part of your body paying a price.

Smoking tobacco can make you look older, faster. The proof? After researchers compared the facial features of 79 sets of twins—in which one twin currently smoked or smoked five years longer than his or her double—they found that those who puffed on cigs experienced greater eye bags, more lip wrinkles, and jowls, according to a study published in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.

And it’s not just your face that bears the damage. Other parts of your body, like your inner arms, may start to wrinkle, too. One potential reason? “Smoking decreases delivery of oxygen and nutrients to your skin by constricting blood vessels and cutting off circulation,” says Zeichner.

Plus, tobacco is loaded with chemicals that may harm your collagen and elastin, the Mayo Clinic says, both of which are crucial for a youthful looking mug. On top of that, smoking can also do a number on your mouth, since it can cause periodontal disease—which may lead to tooth loss—gum recession, and stain your teeth, according to the ADA.

Need one last reminder to quit? “Smoking has been found to harm nearly every bodily organ and organ system in the body,” says the American Cancer Society, making it a leading cause in cancer deaths.

If you’re ready to kick the habit for good, here’s how you can quit smoking right now

  • Not Eating The Right Stuff
    The good: omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, fiber, low-glycemic meals, Vitamins A, C, and E. The bad: inflammatory foods, sugary snacks, high-fat meat. You are what you eat, as they say.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that what you eat can significantly impact how you look. A constant stream of junk food and alcohol denies your body the key nutrients it needs to function at full capacity, but the damage doesn’t stop there. Dr. Schlessinger explains, “A poor diet, specifically one that is high in sugar, can affect your skin from the inside out. Sugar molecules attach to collagen and elastin proteins in the skin through a process called glycation. This process produces advanced glycosylation end products, or AGEs for short. AGEs are free radicals that lead to inflammation, breaking down collagen and elastin in the skin.”

Owner of Fresh Approach Nutrition Kristie LeBeau, MPH, RN, RDN agreed. “Not eating enough fruits and vegetables is another habit that can be aging. Without enough antioxidants and phytonutrients found in fruits and vegetables, we cannot fight free radical damage and will be more susceptible to aging,” LeBeau told me. “One study even showed that with increased intake of vegetables and fruits, there was an increase in pigmentation, a more ‘rosy’ glow to the skin which adds to a youthful appearance.” Who doesn’t want that?

Ignoring Moisturizer (Or Using the Wrong Stuff)
Every man’s skin has its own specific needs. Some guys have extremely oily skin; others are as dry as the goddamn Sahara. Whichever way your punim leans, if you’re not moisturizing regularly, and with skin type-specific stuff, you’re doing yourself a disservice. Because the tools are out there. Not using them is just bad judgement.

  • Alcohol

There’s a reason no one looks great the morning after one too many beers. Research suggests that alcohol can lower antioxidant levels in your skin. This can cause inflammation and free radical damage to your skin cells, which promotes wrinkles says Zeichner. Alcohol also dehydrates skin, which can make your face look dry and rough, the AAD says.

If your goal is to look younger, alcohol is not your friend.  “Alcohol is dehydrating and damaging to DNA, which can lead to a less youthful appearance,” LeBeau told me.

Meeting friends for cocktails every weekend can feel like no big deal, but it affects you over time. As Dr. Schlessinger stated, “Alcohol dehydrates the body causing skin to look red, blotchy, and bloated. Drinking alcohol prevents the production of vasopressin, and anti-diuretic hormone that the body uses to absorb water. This causes the kidneys to work twice as hard to remove excess water from your system, leaving all of your organs, including your skin, dehydrated.” It’s best to skip the second drink and have a water with lime instead.

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Plus, booze can just make you feel older, too. When drinking stay within the recommended limit of no more than two drinks per day for men. Drinking too much raises your risk for serious health problems, like heart and liver disease, depression, and several types of cancer, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

  • Not drinking enough water

Dehydration really takes a toll on your body: muscle cramps, dizziness, and even cravings are common symptoms. But forgetting to drink water can also make your skin look older, according to ABC News’ chief health and medical editor, Dr. Richard Besser.

“If you get dehydrated, your body is going to pull water from your tissues, from your skin to maintain the concentration in your blood,” Besser explained to ABC. “When it does that, your eyes are going to look sunken, your skin is going to feel dryer, it’s not going to be as elastic and so you will look a lot older.”

Hydration needs vary depending on body weight and activity level, but generally it’s best to aim for half your weight in ounces per day as a starting point. For a 200 pound man, that equates to roughly 12.5 cups of water

  • Poor skin care

Basic skin care is a big deal when it comes to limiting the effects of aging. As tempting as it is to head to bed after a long day without washing your face, Dr. Youn says this is a big no-no. “This is a bad habit that really needs to not happen. Makeup, as well as the day’s grime, oil, and pollution, clog your pores and can result in acne. Your skin rejuvenates itself at night and cannot do this very well if it isn’t cleaned.”

Even if you’re a rock star about washing your face before bed, it’s equally important that you don’t skip the moisturizer. Skin expert and founder of the skin care brand trillpiderm, Frank Fanning, told me, “By restoring moisture and lipids to skin, we, as humans, will have a body that has reduced lines and wrinkles, reduced flakiness, softer feel, improved elasticity, better cell renewal (especially at night), and improved immune system response

Running too much

Staying active and exercising throughout the week is vital to keeping that youthful glow, but it is certainly possible to have too much of a good thing. Running too much can leave you looking and feeling older. “Too much running punishes the bones and joints, and one can get stress fractures and cartilage damage,” Powerlifter and trainer Robert S. Herbst told me. “It has also been associated with blood markers that show damage to the heart muscle.”

Running is great for cardio, but does not help build muscle. As we age, strengthening our muscles is crucial, so be sure to mix up your running routine with some weights. “People who run too much usually do not weight train, so they suffer the natural wasting of the upper body muscles which can be reversed with strength training,” Herbst explained. “They also do not get weight bearing exercise that stresses the spine and long bones, so they will also not prevent the natural decline in bone density, which can lead to osteoporosis. If they run outdoors, their skin will age from being exposed to the sun and the elements such as drying wind.”

If outdoor running is your passion, don’t hang up your running shoes just yet. Simply make sure to break up your routine with indoor workouts, strengthening, and rest days.

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