For those that are skin-conscious, you probably avoid the obvious skin sins such as tanning and smoking, but you might be surprised at some of the ways you are unknowingly aging your skin faster. As a skin care expert and celebrity esthetician with 25 years of hands-on experience, I can tell you that avoiding these will slow down the visible skin aging process.
1) Not wearing sunscreen in winter
Think you’re not exposed to the dangerous rays caused from UV light because you’re not outdoors as much? Think again. There are two types of rays: UVA and UVB. The UVB rays (the ones that cause your skin to burn or tan) aren’t as strong in the winter months, therefore your skin is at less risk for a sunburn. However, the UVA rays (the ones that cause skin aging and skin cancer) are approximately the same strength year round and can penetrate through clouds, even on a snowy, winter day. Daily use of sunscreen is an absolute must if you’re concerned about preventing wrinkles and skin cancer 365 days a year, rain or shine, inside or out (UV rays come through windows in your office, home or car). Make sure you have your sunscreen built right into your moisturizer so you only need to apply one product. Don’t forget, the best anti-aging product in the world is sunscreen. Period. If your skin is oily and acne prone, I recommend Daily Protection SPF 30 and if your skin is normal or dry, use Age Defense Moisturizer SPF 30.
If you stay up past your usual bedtime, chances are you’ll be yawning more. When you yawn, the act encourages your eyes to water, which creates swelling and puffiness both at night and in the morning when you wake up. This excess fluid around the eyes weakens the elasticity of the delicate eye tissue causing an acceleration of wrinkles. Elasticity is like a rubber band. When you keep stretching it, it eventually stretches out and doesn’t snap back anymore, so this is what is happening to the eye area. So before you stay up past your bedtime to watch that last show or to read just one more chapter, consider the side effects. This is just one more reason to get a restful night of sleep. It’s called beauty sleep for a reason.
3) Putting off getting glasses
Speaking of the eye area, anytime you squint your eyes unnecessarily from bright lights or blurry vision, you are also weakening the elastin fibers around the eyes and this too will accelerate the appearance of lines and wrinkles. Get your eyes checked yearly and get prescription glasses to keep your eyes squint-free. Also, be sure to wear sunglasses when outdoors.
4) Exposing yourself to secondhand smoke
Did you know that secondhand smoke is actually more dangerous than firsthand? Shocking, but true. The reason is because the components in secondhand smoke are more concentrated than in firsthand, since there is no filter at the end of the cigarette. The levels of nicotine, tar, nitric oxide and carbon monoxide are at least twice as high in secondhand smoke. So what does this mean for your skin? Simply put, you’re getting much of the skin damage that smokers can get if not more, and you’re not even a smoker. Among many things, secondhand smoke affects the skin greatly because collagen-destroying enzymes (MMPs) ramp up when exposed to tobacco smoke, causing increased wrinkling and visible aging of the skin. Try to avoid secondhand smoke and be sure to use antioxidants in your skin care products.
5) Drinking out of straws
Just like squinting, repeated facial expressions and movements will break down collagen and elastin fibers. When drinking out of a straw, you have to purse your lips, causing lines and wrinkles around the mouth. Also, drinking out of a narrow bottle will cause this to happen too. I recommend that you try to pour your beverage into a glass and drink this way since your mouth doesn’t have to purse so tightly. Note: I do know that dentists do suggest drinking out of straws to prevent liquids from staining your teeth so this is a choice that you have to decide for yourself. I think it’s far easier to bleach your teeth with an at-home whitening system than it is to slow down wrinkles.
6) Over-exfoliating your skin
With the abundance of at-home exfoliating products available these days, I’ve noticed this trend when using skin care products: If it’s not burning or stinging, it’s not working. Sound familiar? In the quest to look younger and have smoother skin, people are doing too many aggressive exfoliating treatments that are actually injuring their skin. Too much exfoliation can cause a damaged moisture barrier, resulting in flaking, dehydration and inflammation, possible destruction of healthy cells, and a stimulation of melanin activity causing increased hyper pigmentation. Every type of skin responds differently to exfoliation but at the very least, exfoliation with facial scrubs, acids or at-home peels should not be performed every day.
7) Not cleansing your skin in the morning
Think it’s unnecessary to wash your face in the morning since your skin is clean from the night before? Wrong. The reason it’s important to wash your skin in the morning is because while you sleep at night, your skin is in repair mode and will secrete toxins and sebum which can prevent your daytime products from working most effectively. When you wash your skin in the morning, you’re removing toxins and sebum and you’re also removing your nighttime products so that your daytime products (particularly SPF moisturizer) can get into the skin better, since it will have a clean slate. Also, the nighttime products that are on your skin often times contain ingredients that are suitable for the night, not the day, such as acids and retinol. These should be cleansed from the skin to avoid any reactions or potential irritation. Washing your face in the morning is a key step in ensuring healthy, calm and youthful-looking skin.
Bottom line, it’s much easier and less expensive to prevent wrinkles than to erase them. Trust me on this one.
Renée Rouleau is a skin care expert and celebrity esthetician who believes there’s more to skin than the one-size-fits-all approach. Her exclusive skin care line is based on nine unique skin types, rather than the standard – dry, normal and oily. Her skin care products, Dallas skin care spas and her LA and NY pop-up spas attract a celebrity clientele which includes Demi Lovato, Anna Faris and Eva Amurri Martino. Visit www.ReneeRouleau.com for more information.