STYLE

6 Harmless Habits That Age You

02/21/2013 12:53 pm ET | Updated Feb 22, 2013

SPECIAL FROM Grandparents.com

Learn What Not to Do
Sure, we know that smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol, eating a poor diet and not exercising age us by more than a decade. But what about those seemingly benign habits we don’t even think about, like rubbing our eyes or sleeping on our side? It seems that they, too, can take a toll on how we look and feel.

We talked to Sandy Johnson, M.D., of the American Academy of Dermatology, and found that breaking the following everyday mannerisms can take 3 to 5 years off your appearance.

#1: Rubbing your eyes.

Tired all the time? Pulling and tugging at the eyes can break tiny capillaries and cause the delicate skin around the eyes to darken. “As we mature the skin thins, and this is very noticeable around the eyes,” says Dr. Johnson. “When you rub your eyes you further break those blood vessels, which makes dark circles worse and increases wrinkling.”

Stop this habit and look younger in: 2 to 4 weeks

#2: Sleeping on your side or stomach.

It may be more comfortable than sleeping on your back, but having your face pressed against the pillow for seven to nine hours a night can speed up the formation of fine lines and wrinkles and can contribute to facial asymmetry, says Dr. Johnson. If you can’t sleep on your back, she suggests using a softer pillow, which lessens the pressure applied to your face.

Stop this habit and look younger in: 2 to 4 weeks

#3: Not drinking enough water.

Drinking eight glasses a day does more than just keep the body hydrated – it keeps us looking young by fending off dehydration, which can make the skin appear papery and fine lines more apparent. Using moisturizer and drinking enough water, especially if you’re taking water pills or cholesterol medicine, is an instant, easy way to look younger, says Dr. Johnson.

Stop this habit and look younger in: a few days

#4: Yo-yo dieting.

Add a few pounds during the holidays. Shed a few before the summer. Gain it all back in the fall and vow to have it back off by New Year’s Eve. If this cycle seems familiar to you, then you may need to rethink those weight-loss methods. Gaining and losing weight repeatedly stretches the skin, causing elastic fibers in the skin to break down, which leads to excess sagging, says dermatologist Dr. Johnson. This sagging is similar to the stretch marks we see from rapid weight change.

Stop this habit and look younger in: 2 to 4 weeks

#5: Having a sweet tooth.

You might think sneaking your hand into the cookie jar or indulging in dessert every night doesn’t do much (if any) harm, but sugar is a top culprit when it comes to putting the aging process into high gear. Sugar by-products called advanced glycation end products (AGEs) can not only result in the breakdown of collagen in the skin resulting in fine lines and wrinkles, but have also been linked to degenerative disorders, such as type 2 Diabetes and arthritis.

Stop this habit and look younger in: 2 to 4 weeks

#6: Overdoing your anti-aging beauty routine.

Every night you diligently apply your moisturizers and retinols to plump up the skin and combat fine lines and wrinkles. However, your well-intentioned anti-aging regimen could be doing more harm than good. Applying more of a product than directed can cause clogged pores or a blotchy complexion. What’s more, using too many products can lead to irritation and redness, which makes signs of aging more noticeable, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.

Stop this habit and look younger in: almost immediately

Earlier on Huff/Post50:

Anti-Aging Tips
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