We love the idea of aging gracefully, and we’ve got nothing against laugh lines (we’ve all earned them!), but who wants to look older than they need to? Instead of investing in a bathroom full of anti-aging creams, head off signs of aging before they start by swearing off these bad skin habits ASAP.
Using the wrong cleanser.
Does your skin have a squeaky-clean feeling after you splash away your face wash? You may be overdrying your complexion by stripping away its natural moisture. Only the oiliest skin types should use foaming cleansers or washes with scrubbing beads. If your skin is dry (and most of us get drier as we age), choose a moisturizing cream cleanser. Combination skin can handle a little bit of lather, but opt for a gentle formula that won’t irritate dry patches, such as Atopalm Moisturizing Facial Cleansing Foam ($16.29, target.com).
Yep, Mom was right — your face will stay that way, eventually. If you’re constantly squinting or furrowing your brow, your skin will develop permanent lines in those areas. Wear sunglasses to help avoid crow’s feet (bonus: they filter UV damage, too) and make an effort to relax your face while you concentrate or apply makeup. Yoga or meditation can help you build awareness of tense facial expressions so you can learn to relax those muscles.
Sleeping on your side or stomach.
Just like making the same facial expression over and over can lead to lines, squashing your face against a pillow night after night can cause what dermatologists call “sleep wrinkles.” If you can’t retrain your body, try minimizing the damage with a satin pillowcase or a wrinkle-preventing pillow such as the Juverest, which has a design that reduces the contact your face makes with the pillow.
Getting “a little color” in the summer.
Whether your skin turns lobster red or golden brown, any color is a sign of skin that’s been damaged by the sun. A summer tan can lead to dark spots that won’t fade come fall, and those with darker skin tones are more susceptible to hyperpigmentation because of the higher levels of melanin in their skin. Choose a faux tan instead of a real one; today’s advanced formulas are natural-looking, non-orange and some, like Jergens’ newly reformulated Natural Glow line, even have less of a telltale tanner smell.
Over exfoliating your skin.
Exfoliation helps skin layers turn over faster, which can make your complexion look younger and more glowing. But too much exfoliation messes with the skin’s barrier, causing it to lose moisture and even be more susceptible to redness and acne. It’s easy to overdo it when you’re using a mechanical exfoliant, such as a scrub or washcloth. Instead, opt for a weekly gentle-strength chemical exfoliant or peel, which loosens dead skin cells using an acid (glycolic, salicylic, lactic) or enzyme. Always moisturize and use sunscreen after exfoliating. And avoid scrubs made with particles such as seeds or crushed shells; these exfoliants have jagged edges that create microscopic tears in the skin.
Neglecting your neck.
Our necks are exposed to the same aging effects as our faces — the skin there is similarly sensitive and sees sunlight almost year-round. When applying your moisturizer and SPF, don’t stop at the jawline. Want a more targeted treatment? Amorepacific Line Revolution Firming Neck Creme ($185, us.amorepacific.com) visibly smooths fine lines almost instantly.
Read more: Hair Mistakes That Make You Look Older