Think you know what causes your skin to age? You may be surprised. “Wrinkles, under-eye bags, and redness arent always caused by sun damage or genetics,” says Mary P. Lupo, MD, a dermatologist in New Orleans.
“I can look at a patients face and tell you a lot about her lifestyleeven the products she usesbased on the skin issues she has.” Save yourself a trip to the dermatologist, and read on to find out how you can get a healthier, younger-looking complexion just by tweaking your routine.
1. Bad Habit: Exfoliating with grainy, all-natural scrubs. Natural ingredients are usually healthier than their chemical counterparts.
But when it comes to those grainy facial scrubs, you may want to think twice. “Crushed shells, nuts, or seeds often have jagged edges that can cause microtears in the skin,” Dr. Lupo says.
A better move: Switch to a gentle scrub with beads that are perfectly smooth and round. “Theyre less likely to cause irritation,” says David Bank, MD, a dermatologist in Mt. Kisco, New York. If you still have sensitivity, a paste of baking soda and warm water makes an effective exfoliator, Dr. Lupo advises.
2. Bad Habit: Taking long, hot showers. “Spending too much time in a hot shower can literally melt the layer of lipids that bonds your skin cells together and keeps moisture in,” Dr. Lupo says. Your body replenishes the lipids over the next few hours, but during that time moisture escapes at an alarming rate. Plus, shower water contains small amounts of chlorine, which can “dry out your skin and cause further irritation,” Dr. Bank says.
A better move: Take warm showers that last no more than 10 minutes. They may not be as relaxing, but your skin will be more plump and moisturized. If you cant get all of your shampooing, soaping, and shaving done in less than 10 minutes, consider installing a shower filter, like iWater ($50; MyiWater.com), which removes 99.9 percent of the chlorine in tap water.
3. Bad Habit: Skipping regular eye exams. Repetitive muscle movements like squinting can cause momentary wrinkles (between your brows and the outer edges of your eyes) to become permanently etched into your skin. “Many women dont realize that they need to get their eyes checked,” Dr. Lupo says. “But I can tell from their wrinkles.”
A better move: Whether you suspect a vision problem or not, the American Optometric Association recommends getting your eyes checked every two years for health reasons. This vision check will help your looks, too. And dont forget sunglasses, which prevent squinting and the wrinkling around your eyes.
4. Bad Habit: Styling your hair after washing your face. In the morning, you probably wash your face before you style your hair. But what you may not realize is styling products can end up on the skin around your hairline. “All these products contain ingredients that can block pores and cause pimples,” Dr. Lupo says.
A better move: Style your hair first, then wash your face to remove any product residue. If thats inconvenient, cleanse the skin along your hairline with wipes, like Olay Daily Facials Express ($5.99; drugstores), before you apply makeup.
5. Bad Habit: Sleeping on your side or your stomach. Pay attention to the position youre in next time the alarm goes off; if your face is pressed to the sheets, “gravity can cause fluid to pool beneath your eyes, resulting in puffiness,” Dr. Lupo says. “When it happens night after night, the skin loses elasticity and starts to bag.” Stomach- and side-sleepers are also more prone to wrinkles: Those lines you see in the morning can become permanent, because repetitive creasing causes collagen to break down.
A better move: Train yourself to sleep on your back; a horseshoe-shaped travel pillow can help you get in the habit. Another trick? Slip a pillow under your knees; it puts your spine in a neutral position and makes you less likely to turn over. Experts also recommend switching to satin or silk sheets, which have more slip so you skins less likely to wrinkle up against them.