You likely know the no-no's: Not wearing sunscreen, smoking, and not getting enough sleep can make you look older. But there are plenty of other culprits. Dermatologists Josh Zeichner, M.D., Director of Cosmetic & Clinical Research in Dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, and California-based derm Susan Stuart, M.D., filled us in on everyday activities that you may not realize are aging your skin.
1. Washing your face too much
Of course, it's important to keep your skin clean, but don't overdo it. Wash no more than twice daily (an extra wash pre- or post-workout is okay), and keep in mind that not all cleansers are created equal. Alkaline bar soaps strip your skin of its natural oils and can cause irritation; a non-soap cleanser is a much gentler option.
2. Drinking through a straw
Sure, it looks more ladylike to sip your beverages, but repeatedly pursing your lips can cause wrinkling around your mouth. While not noticeable when you're young, these lines become more pronounced as you age and your skin weakens.
3. Losing weight
We all want to fit into those skinny jeans, but losing too much weight (or repeated weight gain and loss) causes your skin to lose elasticity, making it look saggy.
4. Skipping your annual eye exam
That yearly visit to the eye doc is one appointment you shouldn't put off. Squinting can start causing crows feet and frown lines between your brows. Make sure to get your vision checked regularly, and if you need glasses, wear them!
5. Wearing contacts
Okay, the problem isn't so much wearing contact lenses as it is incorrectly putting them in and taking them out. When applying lenses, you typically tug at the thin, sensitive skin around your eyes, which can cause inflammation and, overtime, lead to wrinkling and sagging.
Don't think that just because you're in a car you're safe from the sun's rays. UVA light, which causes skin aging, penetrates through glass, meaning you're exposed even in the car. Slather sunscreen all over, focusing especially on your left forearm and hand.
7. Cranking up the heat
It may be tempting to dial up the thermostat on chilly winter days, but dry, indoor heat leads to inflamed skin, which over time has aging effects. Turn down the temperature before bed, or invest in a cool-mist humidifier to use overnight. Alternately, placing a glass of water on your bedside table helps keep the air moist.
8. Forgetting to drink enough water
Skip water and you could be left with dry, rough skin. Water not only hydrates our bodies and our skin, but helps our skin give off a healthy glow.
9. Eating too much sodium
Although you can't avoid salt altogether, foods high in sodium can suck moisture out of skin, leaving it dry and dull. Make sure you drink plenty of water, use a hydrating moisturizer, and cut back on salty foods.
10. Sleeping on your face
Each sleep position has its pros and cons, but sleeping on your back can help minimize facial wrinkles you might get from your pillow. If you must sleep on your side, switch to a silk or satin pillowcase, which creates less compression wrinkles and can help maintain your skin's moisture levels.
11. Drinking coffee
Caffeine can lower your risk for developing Alzheimer's and can help boost your metabolism. However, coffee can also dehydrate skin and magnify wrinkles. Stick to one or two cups a day, and drink plenty of water in between cups of joe.
12. Slouching at work
Do you often slump over your desk and rest your chin on your arm? This regular movement — extending and flexing your neck — can stretch the skin and lead to wrinkles. Prolonged periods of time texting and reading can also contribute to sagging.