Many of my patients ask me what they can do to help regain a more youthful look to their skin. They want to know if there’s any new special creams, or procedures, to fight dryness, sagging and wrinkling. They’re actually shocked when I tell them about the common things they might be doing to age their skin faster than a birthday. Here’s what I tell them…
6 Things You Do That Age Your Skin Fast
Like many people getting older, you may be searching for products or procedures to help your skin maintain a youthful look. While there are many beneficial anti-aging creams and treatments available, there are several things you may be doing that are aging your skin faster. Many of them are things you likely wouldn’t even guess. I’ve put together 6 of the most common ones for you.
1. Face Sleeping. If you’re a side or a stomach sleeper, you’re damaging the tone of your skin every night. Why? Constant pressure and friction from pushing, and rubbing, your face into your pillow, or mattress, many times during the night, causes collagen stores beneath the skin to break down. You fall asleep with your skin pushed up, down, sideways, and pretty soon “sleep creases” become actual wrinkles and/or sagging areas. Take a look at the side of your face you most often sleep on. See more wrinkles and sagging around your upper cheek/eye area?
Although “face sleeping” is a hard habit to break, it’s a worthwhile one if you’re trying to regain, or maintain, a more youthful look. Certain procedures may be able to rejuvenate these areas, but if you continue to sleep this way, the problem will reoccur. I tell my patients to get a special cervical neck pillow. This allows you to cradle your head very comfortably while re-training you to sleep on your back. Even if you turn from side to side, your face doesn’t have the weight of your body pressing it into the pillow or your bed.
2. Dirty Linens. While we’re talking about sleep habits, making sure you change your bed linens, especially pillowcases. Doing so will go a long way to help maintain younger-looking skin. Your skin sheds hundreds of skin cells every night. These can contain bacteria and other microscopic organisms that get into the fabric of your pillowcases. They give off metabolic toxins that can really irritate and inflame your skin. Inflammation leads to faster collagen breakdown in your skin. If you don’t change/wash your linens frequently, at least once a week, your skin is constantly coming in contact with a buildup of these organisms.
3. Too Hot Water. Many people feel they have to steam clean their face/body skin with very hot water. This simply is not true and actually leads to breakdown of the integrity of your skin. Taking too hot a shower, or washing your face with too hot water, strips the upper layer of your skin, the epidermis. This is also true of “baking” in a steam-sauna frequently. Your skin becomes dry and dehydrated which leads to redness (inflammation), itching and, surprisingly, sagging skin. A lukewarm shower is best for overall skin health. But, for your face, cold water is actually a better choice as it helps tighten skin and stimulate collagen.
4. Too Cold House/Office. In the summer, many people like to keep their A/C’s at about 65 to 68. Yet, these cooler house/office temperatures can dehydrate you and leave your skin looking like wrinkled prune skin. Upping the temperature on your A/C not only saves your skin but your money! If you have no control over the A/C environment you’re working in, be sure to drink more water. In addition, splash some cool water on your face, gently pat it dry, then apply a very dry skin moisturizer, like Curel, or Vaseline, to keep a layer of moisture locked into your skin.
5. Vision Problems. Many of my patients are surprised when I tell them that vision problems can actually cause a lot of wrinkling around their eyes and upper cheek areas. If you’re not seeing properly at distance, or near, you likely are squinting to help you focus better. Squinting causes your eye muscles to tighten around your lens which helps you focus better. It also crunches up all the skin around your eyes and upper cheek areas. Chronic squinting eventually leads to permanent skin creases and wrinkles in these areas. So, to help your eyes maintain a more youthful look, get your eyes examined regularly. A pair of glasses, or contacts, helps prevent creasing and folding of skin around your eyes and cheeks.
6. Frowning. Just as constant squinting causes lines around your eyes and upper cheeks, chronic frowning can put permanent creases between your eyes, your forehead, and around your mouth. It often leads to those tell-tale “11’s” between your eyebrows, or foreheads with deep creases in them, or lines around your lips. They not only make you look older but angry or sad. Yet, people often aren’t aware that they’re performing these aging facial grimaces.
To break yourself of this aging habit, determine what makes you pinch your eyebrows together, raise your eyebrows constantly, or purse your lips. Stop responding to these triggers with these facial movements. Facial relaxation and isometric exercises can help smooth out those ingrained frown lines. They help the muscle beneath the skin remodel itself so that the overlying skin can drape more smoothly across it. There are many good facial exercise programs demonstrated on YouTube. A couple of good ones are Facial Yoga and Carolyn’s Facial Fitness. Botox also works to smooth out these frown-lines.
Just because you’re getting older doesn’t mean your face has to tell everyone your age. Adequate sleep, nutrition and frequent exercise helps fight general aging as well as on your face. Staying away from these face-aging practices also help.
Jay Brachfeld, M.D.
Carolyn’s Facial Fitness, http://www.carolynsfacialfitness.com/learning-to-sleep-on-your-back
Facial Yoga, http://rkyoga.com/about