When you reach a certain age, you start scrutinising your reflection in the mirror. Was that gray hair there yesterday? How long have I had these fine lines?
The age it happens varies from person to person because of genetics and lifestyle factors, but we all get there eventually.
And if there’s one thing we all have in common, it’s that we want to put off this day as long as humanly possible. Well the good news is that there are a few things you can do to keep your healthy, youthful glow for longer.
Drop the following bad habits, and you may just reverse some of the damage you’re already seeing.
Smoking – You know smoking can lead to lung cancer, but it is also terrible for your skin. The nicotine in cigarettes causes your blood vessels to narrow in the surface layers of your skin. This means that blood isn’t flowing there as well as it should. This results in the sallow, almost grayish appearance you may see in someone who has been smoking heavily for many years. And without adequate blood flow, your skin will also be deprived of nutrients that keep its elasticity. This results in collagen loss and wrinkles. Both of these things will age you prematurely.
Drinking alcohol – If you drink alcohol regularly, you’re not alone. Alcoholism in America is a problem that’s only getting worse. Alcoholism is a health crisis for many reasons, and its ill effects are not lost on the skin. Alcohol depletes your body of certain vitamins, including vitamin A that is a crucial antioxidant that helps your skin fight off free radicals. Drinking heavily will also result in a loss of collagen, which makes your skin sag. And in the short term, alcohol dehydrates you, which can affect elasticity and cause wrinkles.
Burning the midnight oil – When you skip a good night’s sleep, you’ll likely show signs of being tired the next day. You may have bags underneath your eyes and/or dull skin. These are the immediate effects of insomnia, but one study suggests that poor sleep may have a more lasting impact on your looks. A 2014 Clinical and Experimental Dermatology study found that people who consistently got a better night’s sleep scored better on intrinsic skin aging tests. The poor sleepers also reported being less satisfied with their appearance than those who got a better night’s rest.
Skipping exercise – If you’re a couch potato, you’ll look older than you need to. Think about the various body types. We tend to associate fitness with youth, so if you have a fit shape, you’re bound to look younger than your age. But that’s not the only way exercise can make you appear younger.
Working out actually slows aging at a cellular level. Scientists have identified things called telomeres that are associated with aging. Telomeres are the caps at the end of your chromosomes. Telomeres get shorter as you get older, but exercise can help slow this process.
Binging on sweets – This is bad news for anyone with a sweet tooth, but too much sugar can cause wrinkles through a process called glycation. Glycation is the natural process by which the sugar in your bloodstream attaches to molecules called advanced glycation end products (AGEs). If you want to keep your youthful glow, replace refined sugars with natural sugars found in whole foods like fruits and honey.
Genetics have a lot to do with how we age, but it’s important to remember that we do have some control.
Now that you know which habits are aging you, is there anything you’ll change?