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  • Writer's pictureGayle Reich

4 unhealthy lifestyle choices aging your skin

Updated: Apr 25, 2019

Making poor choices when it comes to food, stress, sleep and sun is seriously aging your skin.

A healthy, youthful looking complexion takes more to achieve than our daily lineup of skincare products. Lifestyle habits, good and bad, play a huge role in how our skin ages; let’s take a look at how some of these common lifestyle factors can be super harmful to skin health.

Eating too many sugary and high GI foods

Worried about wrinkles? Step away from the cookie jar. When you eat sugar or foods with a high glycemic index, like white bread, cookies and even some types of fruit; your body breaks down these simple carbohydrates into glucose. This raises your insulin levels very quickly. This spike in insulin causes a surge of inflammation in the body; stimulating enzymes responsible for breaking down collagen and elastin in the skin. Ultimately, this speeds up the effects of aging and worsening skin conditions such as acne and rosacea.

Go Low GI: For oh so glow skin, opt for foods with a low glycemic index like complex carbohydrates, such as brown rice and vegetables. These break down into glucose at a slower rate and also help control blood sugar levels.

Read the label: Look at the high and low glycemic index labels of food products. They’re key to making smart choices for your skin’s health.

Choose an anti-inflammatory diet: Do your best to follow an anti-inflammatory diet of healthy fats (olive oil, avocado), lean proteins (salmon), fiber (broccoli and cauliflower), antioxidants (berries) and healthy fats such as Omega 3 for healthy, happy skin.

Not getting enough sleep

Skimping on sleep will lead to elevated levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which can play havoc with your skin. Forget expensive lotions and potions, getting your quota of quality shut-eye is one of the cheapest ways to improve your complexion.

Dark circles: The most obvious signs you aren’t getting enough sleep is the ‘raccoon eye’. The dark shadow occurs when the blood vessels dilate, due to lack of sleep, and show through the delicate skin under the eye.

Wrinkles: Poor sleep affects skin elasticity; leading to sagging and the appearance of a ‘frowning’ type expression. This sleep study conducted by Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden reveals that participants in the research looked sadder after not sleeping well for several nights.

Breakouts: The increased levels of stress hormone in your body due to lack of sleep can lead to fresh breakouts and pimples that just won’t budge.

Remember, the quality of sleep is more important than the quantity of sleep. You may sleep for 8 hours but if it’s restless and broken your body and skin cells don’t have the chance to rejuvenate properly. Prioritise quality sleep; your skin’s glow depends on it.

The amount of time you spend in the sun

The sun's UV rays are the main culprit for the premature aging and sagging of skin. Overexposure to the sun speeds up the signs of aging in a major way, such as the appearance of wrinkles, lack of firmness in the skin, sunspots, change in texture and reduced skin elasticity. The UV light from the sun can be broken down into 2 categories; UVA and UVB. UVA rays cause most of the visible signs of aging to skin; sagging wrinkles and sunspots. These rays penetrate into the deeper layers of skin and destroy the collagen. UVB, on the other hand, doesn’t penetrate as deep but it’s responsible for sunburn and overexposure can increase the risk of skin cancer.

Choose broad-spectrum sunscreen: When choosing sunscreen opt for broad protection which shields your skin from both UVA and UVB rays.

Apply sunscreen 365 days a year: No matter the season, the sun’s rays can do damage. Applying sunscreen every day is an absolute must if you’re serious about keeping wrinkles at bay.

How stressed you are

If you’re constantly stressed, anxious and tense, it’s guaranteed to show up on your face. Just like with lack of sleep, your body releases more of the hormone cortisol during times of stress. When cortisol levels are consistently raised, the skin’s ability to repair itself is impaired and can leave your skin susceptible to infection. Stress-related acne is also commonly caused by oilier skin and an imbalance of the cortisol hormone. High levels of anxiety can also deplete the skin’s natural moisture, resulting in flaky, dry and itchy skin. Dehydrated skin makes existing wrinkles and worry lines appear deeper. In a culture where high stress and excessive busyness are often worn like badges of honour, it’s important to remember the damaging effects this type of lifestyle is having on your skin.

Exercise: Prioritising exercise can help get the blood flowing around the body; improving your complexion and also releasing endorphins that combat stress.

Make time for self-care: Winding back commitments, taking time for yourself and trying not to sweat the small stuff can literally take years off your face.

Hydrate: Show your skin extra TLC during times of stress, especially when it comes to hydration. Opt for a deeply nourishing and natural oil or moisturizer, steer clear of toxin-filled products - you’ll only add more stress to an already fragile complexion.

Taking steps to change these lifestyle habits is totally worth the effort, your skin will thank you now and in years to come.

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