Did you know that your workout might actually be making you look old, rather than keeping you young? Or that too many cookies could lead to sagging skin? In your rush to prevent aging and turn back the clock, don’t overlook these 5 common habits that may actually be doing more harm than good—you might be surprised at some of the things on this list.
#1: Staying up late
Sure, you may not be keeping your old 2 am college bedtime, but staying up late and missing out on a full night’s sleep increases the risk for serious health problems. Research links chronic sleep deprivation to an increased risk for high blood pressure, diabetes, weight gain, and—you guessed it—looking older.
Fight back against aging: You don’t have to get a perfect eight hours every night, but strive for at least seven. Trouble falling asleep? Create a nighttime ritual to help you unwind, like meditation or listening to relaxing music, and put away those electronic devices!
#2: Indulging your sweet tooth
A sugar-packed diet not only increases your risk for obesity and diabetes, but can lead to wrinkles and loose skin. Sugar is to blame for a process known as “glycation,” which damages collagen and elastin. Without sufficient collagen and elastin, your skin becomes dry and wrinkled, showing visible signs of aging.
Fight back against aging: Avoid processed foods that are packed with added sugars like corn syrup, barley malt, and dextrose. One of the worst offenders? Salad dressing. Limit foods with added sugar to no more than 10% of your daily caloric intake.
#3: Taking your workout to an extreme level
Do you find yourself gritting your teeth or grimacing while working out? Without even realizing it, you may be stressing your facial muscles, which can lead to wrinkles. Worse, sticking to the same high-impact workouts and failing to diversify your exercise routine increases the risk for joint injury.
Fight back against aging: Be smart about your exercise routine. Don’t let your sneakers collect cobwebs, but don’t overdo it, either. Vary your workouts between low-impact cardio, strength training, flexibility and toning, and core exercises. Bring awareness to your facial muscles, and consciously focus on relaxing them instead of squinting or clenching your jaw.
#4: Avoiding all fatty foods
Not all fats are created equal. If you’ve banned fat from your diet, think again. Your body will actually benefit from heart-healthy fats like omega-3 fatty acids, which calm inflammation and make your skin less likely to break out in acne and rosacea. But omega-3 fatty acids also help plump collagen and elastin fibers in the skin, which keep it supple.
Fight back against aging: Add healthy omega-3 fat sources to your diet, including avocados, almonds, cold-water fish such as salmon, and olive oil.
#5: Using too much foundation
Don’t cake on the makeup! Thick foundation is likely to settle into the lines on your face, which not only makes these lines more visible, but also increases the risk for breakouts. Failing to exfoliate often can also make your skin appear blotchy, which accentuates discoloration and wrinkles.
Fight back against aging: Exfoliate at least twice a week to replenish skin cells and always apply moisturizer afterward. Opt for sheer formulas with light-diffusing elements; your natural glow will shine through—without the wrinkles!