But you could avoid relying on expensive creams and procedures if you focus your efforts on preventing prevent premature aging. Nix these eight habits from your routine to stay young. [Read: 5 Unbelievable Foods That Secretly Kill Your Sex Drive
1. Not Wearing Sunscreen
The number one thing you can do to keep your skin looking young and healthy? Slather on the SPF, says Joshua Zeichner, M.D., director of cosmetic and clinical research in the department of dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital. [Read: 8 Ways to Keep Your Skin Looking Healthy]
“UV light exposure causes free radicals that damage collagen, elastin, and skin cells themselves. This leads to premature aging of the skin, wrinkling, dark spots, and the development of skin cancers. Even short amounts of sun exposure daily add up over a lifetime,” he explains. For background, collagen and elastin are proteins found in our body that keep skin strong and resilient.
2. 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.
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, [Read: 7 Healthy Ways to Deal with Depression
3. Skimping on Fruit
However, several studies suggest that eating a balanced diet loaded with disease-fighting fruits and vegetables can help prevent damage that causes your skin to age too early, according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD).
That’s because fruits and vegetables are full of nutrients, like antioxidants and vitamins, which keep your skin cells healthy. [Read: 8 Brain Damaging Habits That You Must Know]
Some fruits and vegetables to consider for your grocery list that fit the bill? Dark leafy greens like spinach, sweet potatoes, oranges, red peppers, strawberries, asparagus, and mushrooms.
4. Eating Too much Sugar
Dealing with pimple after pimple can lead to permanent scarring, either in the form of a depressed or raised bump in the skin caused by damaged collagen, he explains. Even if they go away, you might deal with brown and red marks, similar to sunspots that tend to make you look older. They will fade over time, but not keeping your acne in check will continue to spur that cycle. (Here’s how to get rid of acne scars. [Read: 6 Promises All Men Make But will Never Keep]
Plus, eating too much of the sweet stuff can lead to glycation, a process in which sugar molecules attach to your collagen or the main building blocks of your skin. This makes your collagen hard and less flexible, promoting premature wrinkling.
5. Smoking Cigarettes
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. [Read: 10 Hot ways to Seduce your Partner in a Second]
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.
6. Drinking 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 the skin, which can make your face look dry and rough. [Read: 10 Things That Make Women More Attracted to you]
Plus, booze can just make you feel older, too. When drinking stays 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.
7. 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. Things that make you look older
“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.”
8. Stressing Too Much
You’ve probably seen before and after photos of United States presidents showing how stress has aged them. Well, according to a 2004 study, long-term stress shortens a part of our chromosomes called telomeres, the Washington Post reported at the time. These structures naturally shorten as we age. Long-term stress makes them even shorter and causes the body to age more quickly.
“Realize you can not control most things in your life, so take some time and breathe,” Things that make you look older