As far as problems go, wrinkles are hardly a big deal. But you gotta admit it sucks to see that first line across your forehead, or those first couple of crow's feet — especially if you don't know why you have premature wrinkles. I mean, aren't these signs of aging for people who have a few more years under their belt?
This was my question when I laid eyes on my first wrinkles. As a young 20-something, I figured I'd have another decade or so before aging reminders splashed across my face. And yet there they were, hanging out on my forehead and around my eyes.
The type of lines I was seeing were likely dynamic wrinkles, which are only visible during facial movement, Dr. Michele Farber, of Schweiger Dermatology Group, tells me. These are the lines that crop up around your eyes when you laugh, or the cheek creases you see when you smile. The other type of wrinkles are called static wrinkles, and they stick around even when your face is at rest.
As Farber says, "Dynamic wrinkles begin in the late twenties to early thirties, and static wrinkles begin in the early to mid thirties." But wrinkles can occur in the early 20s, too. However, these premature lines usually have a cause apart from regular ol' aging. Read on for some likely explanations, as well as what to do about any lines that make you unhappy.
1. You Sleep On Your Stomach
I love sleeping on my stomach just as much as the next gal. But waking up with pillow wrinkles every single day isn't exactly ideal. In fact, Farber tells me stomach sleeping can accelerate aging, so back sleeping is the way to go. This is way easier said than done, however, so ensure it happens by cocooning yourself in blankets. Or, get one of these fancy numbers. It may not be as comfy, but it will mean waking up wrinkle-free.
2. Sugary Snacks Are Your Absolute Favorite
I'd live off donuts and donuts alone if it was considered healthy and acceptable. But sadly, it is not. While the occasional treat is perfectly OK, a diet high in sugar can lead to all sorts of skin troubles — including the onset of wrinkles. "Diets high in sugar and low in antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables lead to poor skin nutrition and have pro-aging effects," says Dr. Patricia Ceballos, also of Schweiger Dermatology Group. She suggests steering clear of carbohydrates and sugary sweets and switching over to fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and complex carbs instead.
3. You Save Sunscreen For A Day At The Beach
You slap on sunscreen when heading out for a day at the beach. (Good job.) But do you remember to smear some on when going to work, or whilst running errands? If not, these short bouts of sun exposure could be what's wrinkling up your skin. As Ceballos says, "It is estimated that sun exposure accounts for up to 70 percent of the skin's aging." So do your skin a favor and don't go a single day without that SPF.
4. That Water Bottle Of Yours Goes Untouched
If you aren't getting those eight glasses a day, then wrinkles won't be far behind. "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," noted an article on HuffingtonPost.com. It's possible to get water from other sources (fruits, vegetables, etc.) so start drinking and start snacking, and keep thyself hydrated.
5. You Live In A Smog Cloud
Do you live in a smoggy city? If so, clouds of pollution could be messing with your skin. According to environmental editor Damian Carrington on The Guardian, recent research has shown that air pollution can cause premature aging on the faces of city dwellers. (Yikes!) Of course, there ain't much you can do about it, apart from moving. But you can try to turn your apartment into a smog-free oasis by getting an air purifier and changing your air filters. It might just make some difference in your skin.
6. You Love A Happy Hour
Have you noticed how you look a little... worse for wear after a night of drinking? Well, that's all due to the lovely dehydrating effects of alcohol. "First and foremost, it dehydrates by acting as a diuretic," Ceballos says. "Paradoxically, it [also] leads to periocular puffiness (edema). The delicate eyelid skin retains fluid in response to alcohol." Not a cute combination. So do your skin a favor, and cut back on the drinking. Or, at the very least, be sure to sip more water.
7. You Use A Lot Of Skin Care Products
You might think that the more the better when it come to skin care products. But it doesn't actually work that way. "Applying more of a product than directed can cause clogged pores or a blotchy complexion," noted the Huffington Post. "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." Sticking to a simpler routine can help your skin recover, while slowing down that premature wrinkling.
8. Your Stress Levels Are Out Of Control
We all know stress is horrible for the body, and this includes your rapidly wrinkling epidermis. "High stress levels and lack of sleep are a lethal combination for skin health and youthfulness," Ceballos says. This is due to high cortisol levels, which take a huge toll on your skin's connective tissues. To get things under control, Farber suggests taking more time for yourself. "It is crucial to find time for activities to reduce stress: exercise, yoga, or meditation," she says.
9. You Smoke, Or Are Exposed To Smoke
If you're a heavy smoker, then you know your habit can cause skin damage. But this is true for casual smokers, as well as those exposed to secondhand smoke. Smoking and secondhand smoke can trigger the breakdown of collagen and can lead to loose, saggy skin, according to beauty writer Alanna Nuñez on SHAPE. The act of pursing your lips to take a drag can cause wrinkles, too, in the form of lines above your mouth.
10. Sleep Constantly Escapes You
In a perfect world, we'd all go to bed at 10 p.m. and sleep soundly until 7 a.m. But these recommended nine hours are pretty difficult to get, what with our busy schedules and Netflix and stress and all that. And yet, you have to make it happen — if only for the sake of your skin. “While it is often difficult to take time for ourselves with hectic schedules, it is crucial for well-being, including that of our skin," Farber says. So make it a point to get the rest you need, and then revel in your wrinkle-free skin.
11. You Squint All Day Long
Take a moment and think about how often you squint into your computer screen. "Facial movements — like squinting, raising your eyebrows, or furrowing your brows — cause the muscles in those areas to contract, which makes the skin wrinkle," dermatologist Melissa Piliang, M.D., told Sara Schwartz on HuffingtonPost.com. Getting your eyes checked can help, as can making the effort to catch yourself in the squinting act.
Because sometimes that's all it takes to ward off premature wrinkles — a little tweak here, or a different habit there. Making the changes, and taking better care of yourself, will mean younger looking skin for years to come.