Five Surprising Skin Agers

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Some visible signs of aging are a fact of life but certain parts of your daily routine can actually speed up the process. In addition to taking proper care of your skin, making a few small changes in your habits and lifestyle might really benefit the quality of your complexion.

Here are 5 ways to ensure you continue to put your best face forward from San Diego dermatologist Tess Mauricio, MD:

1. Avoid drinking through straws. I’m sure many of you drink dark sodas, tea and coffee through a straw to prevent staining your pearly whites or to avoid putting your mouth on a can or bottle, right? Don’t sip from a straw! It’s causing fine lines around your mouth, a sign of premature aging to your facial skin area. Over the long-term, pursing your lips to sip out of a straw causes extra wrinkles around the mouth.

2. Train yourself to sleep on your back. Resting your face on the pillow in the same way every night for years on end leads to wrinkles. Called sleep lines, these wrinkles eventually become etched on the surface of the skin and no longer disappear when the head is not resting on the pillow. Women, who tend to sleep on their sides, are most likely to see these lines appear on their chin and cheeks. Men tend to notice these lines on the forehead since they usually sleep with the face pressed face down on the pillow. People who sleep on their backs do not develop these wrinkles since their skin does not lie crumpled against the pillow.

3. Pull down the shade in an airplane. You’re much closer to the sun in a plane than on land, so it stands to reason that solar rays, which can penetrate windows, are more intense at higher altitudes.  This may explain why pilots and flight attendants have been found to be at an increased risk for melanoma and other skin cancers. Plus, the air up there is notoriously dry—and without moisture, skin, like any living tissue, simply shrivels. Drink as much water as you can in flight; avoid alcohol and salty foods, which are dehydrating. Apply a rich moisturizer with SPF 15 or higher 30 minutes before boarding, as sunscreen needs time to be absorbed before it’s effective. And if you’re sitting next to a window, pull down the shade.

4. Beware of beauty creams with harmful ingredients. Yes, exposure to some beauty cream chemicals do more harm than good. You may be surprised to hear this, but many ingredients in beauty creams actually speed up the aging process. Try avoiding buying beauty creams that contain parabens, mineral oil, paraffin, petrolatum, dimethicone, and other potentially harmful ingredients. When buying a beauty cream, read the label carefully and talk to your dermatologist before experimenting with a new facial product.

5. Maintain a healthy weight. Packing on pounds can make your skin look plumper on the surface, but carrying excess weight can cause your body’s levels of insulin (a hormone made by the pancreas that controls the amount of sugar in your blood) and cortisol to rise, which can break down collagen. You’ll see increased sagging from putting and keeping on as little as 10 to 15 extra pounds. Loss of facial fat causes sagging and a gaunt, aged appearance. In addition, repeatedly gaining and losing weight can take its toll on the skin’s elasticity, leaving behind stretch marks and jowls.  Yo-yo dieting also causes premature aging. The repeated weight gain and loss stretches your skin and makes it loose and saggy. Maintain a healthy weight with proper diet and exercise. Aim to keep your weight in the normal range, with a body mass index between 18.5 and 24.9.

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  • JK

    I love that some of you are challenging the mainstream opinions on what is harmful! (mineral oil, petrolatum, paraffin etc are not harmful, they are just out of style right now!) But, people are happy with "growth factors" in their face creams which from the sound of it, could promote cell division (i.e. skin cancer). The whole industry of cosmetics needs peer reviewed clinical trials and some logic for pricing. I mean, you can get a cream for $20 which has more beneficial ingredients than one which costs $300. There is no sense to it and women are being taken advantage of. Stop the madness. We all want to look younger but don't rip us off.

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  • Kristy

    to say Hydroquinone has been banned in Europe is a sort of a misrepresentation. In some countries you can get hydroquinone over the counter in strengths up to 8%. There are some countries that have made hydroquinone available through a physician only and no longer available in over the counter cosmetics. In the United States hydroquinone is available in cosmetics in 2% and from a physician in 4%. Hydroquinone has not been banned in any state of the United States. ( Where did that come from?) Hydroquinone is considered the gold standard for treating hyper-pigmentation among dermatologist and there is not any evidence that topical creams containing hydroquinone are dangerous to humans.

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  • Debbi

    Parabens are known to cause cancer ! I dont want parabens in my products.

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  • Dr. Tess Mauricio

    I would like to clarify my statements in number 4, above. There are ingredients that are potentially harmful to the skin and can potentially accelerate the aging process like hydroquinone if used long term. Hydroquinone has already been banned in Europe and also in some states in the US. Paraben can cause allergy and is one of the most common topical allergens in the US. Mercury can be found in some skin whitening products sold online and can be toxic to the skin. Petrolatum, mineral oil and dimethicone are common ingredients to moisturizers that may not necessarily accelerate the aging process of the skin but can cause acne, clogged pores and allergy in some individuals. The take home message is before trying products that you are unfamiliar with, consult your dermatologist.

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  • theresa

    I would like to see the evidence for your claim that parabens, mineral oil, paraffin, petrolatum, dimethicone speed up the aging process! Are there studies you can reference?

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  • Sarah

    love the straw tip--that's a good one, thanks

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  • Joshua S

    I cant believe that as a beauty company you are actually telling people that parabens, mineral oil, paraffin, petrolatum, dimethicone, are toxic. That is just NOT true! Please do some research before posting these articles! And please stop spreading lies about toxicity!

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  • gabi

    To add to #2, I notice that when I sleep on my back my face is fresh and less puffy in the mornings..

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