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7 Mistakes That Age You Prematurely, Says Science

Stress releases certain hormones that cause oxidative stress that overwhelms the repair process of skin.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

Premature aging is something you can control, and the mistakes you're making now could ruin your looks when you get older. These mistakes can also take years off your life. That's why we contacted Dr. Bruce Robinson, a board-certified Adult and Pediatric Dermatologist, and Clinical Professor of Dermatology at Lenox Hill Hospital. He sees cases every day of people who are older than they look, and knows the secrets of preventing it from ever happening in the first place. Read on for his 7 mistakes that cause premature aging—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You Have "Long" COVID and May Not Even Know It.


Sleeping This Way Can Cause Wrinkles

sleepy woman lying on stomach wearing pants

A good night's sleep—7 to 9 hours—can make you look and feel younger, as your body restores and repairs itself. However, if you sleep a certain way, you'll be aging yourself. "Side or stomach sleeping in a position that causes wrinkling of the skin. i.e. hand under your face while on your side," can age you, says Dr. Robinson. This is due to "shearing" forces as your skin touches the pillow, causing friction. Over years, it leads to lasting damage. A pillowcase that reduces chafing—say, one made of satin—can help, as can sleeping on your back.


Stress Really Can Age You

Businesswoman tries to cope with nervous tension or anxiety

"Stress releases certain hormones that cause oxidative stress that overwhelms the repair process of skin," says Dr. Robinson. "Stress-related inflammation has been implicated in insomnia, late-life depression, anxiety, cognitive decline and Alzheimer's disease," says one study. "In addition, chronic inflammatory processes are implicated in diverse health outcomes associated with aging, such as atherosclerosis, insulin resistance, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome." Another reason to finally meditate, like you keep saying you will.


You Know the Sun Ages You. Here's the Frightening Reason Why.

Woman covering her face to block the sun light.

A tan can make you feel youthful and "vital" but the sun is a major danger that'll sag your skin. "The ultraviolet ray breaks down collagen and elastic fibers," says Dr. Robinson. Eesh. Not to mention, too much sun can lead to skin cancer. Best thing to do is to get about 10 to 30 minutes of sun, preferably at midday, and just a few times a week, and no more.


Drinking Can Age You

red wine

After a few drinks, you may feel young again—the life of the party. But you're making yourself look older with every sip. "Alcohol releases stress hormones in the body that cause premature aging," says Dr. Robinson. "It can also dehydrate your skin." Of course too much drinking also leads to all kinds of diseases, from kidney and liver damage to heart issues. One or two glasses of wine a night is best.


Don't Eat Simple Sugars

Sugar in spoon

"A diet high in simple sugars causes skin to become rigid and lose its elasticity," says Dr. Robinson. What are simple sugars? They're a form of carb which contain a single sugar molecule. These include table sugar—which is a disaccharide—and monosaccharides like glucose and fructose.

RELATED: The #1 Cause of Diabetes, According to Science


Pollution Can Cause Brown Spots on Your Skin

Blurred silhouettes of cars surrounded by steam from the exhaust pipes. Traffic jam

"Pollution can produce brown spots on the skin," says Dr. Robinson. "There is accumulating scientific evidence that air pollution plays an important role in extrinsic aging," says one study—"extrinsic" meaning your exterior. This "includes skin pigmentation," specifically "melasma." "Melasma is a common skin problem. It causes brown to gray-brown patches, usually on the face," says the American Academy of Dermatology. "Most people get it on their cheeks, bridge of their nose, forehead, chin, and above their upper lip. It also can appear on other parts of the body that get lots of sun, such as the forearms and neck."

RELATED: 5 Ways to Prevent Dementia, Says Dr. Sanjay Gupta


Don't Smoke

Mature woman with sore throat, standing in living room at home.

"Smoking causes vasoconstriction of blood vessels that deprive collagen and elastic fibers of oxygen and nutrition," says Dr. Robinson. "In addition, smoke that comes in contact to skin can cause oxidative stress." And to get through life at your healthiest, don't miss these 7 Signs You've Got a "Deadly" Blood Clot Inside You.

Dr. Robinson can be found on his website right here.

Alek Korab
Alek Korab is a Co-Founder and Managing Editor of the ETNT Health channel on Eat This, Not That! Read more about Alek
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