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Tuesday, Jun 19, 2018
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Saving Face: Breaking a few bad habits could help slow the aging process

No woman over the drinking age wants to look any older than she is.

(Guys, over all, may not be quite as obsessed with aging, but given that sales of men’s cosmetics and grooming products are among the fastest-growing segments in the beauty industry, it’s pretty clear they, too, have concerns.)

Genetics play a part, of course, in keeping a youthful glow, but if your skin is starting to look more worn than you think it should, chances are you’re at least partly responsible for the sabotage.

Bad habits like squinting, smoking and wearing makeup to bed all can effect your skin’s aging process.

“It’s impossible to quantify how much and in what percentage genetics versus personal choice influence our skin’s aging process,” says Rachel Careccia, a board certified dermatologist and dermatopathologist at Palm Harbor Dermatology (www.palmharbordermatology.com). “Yet our behavior and the associated consequences are the only aspects over which we have control.”

Here, the doctor helps breaks down the habits that can wreak havoc on your skin.


We all know smoking is bad for your overall health, but it also causes excessive facial skin aging.

Smoking reduces blood flow, depriving the skin of critical nutrients and oxygen.

It causes damage to the entire skin surface, Careccia says.

The chemicals in the nicotine damage skin and promote inflammation within our bodies and blood vessels.

And all that repetitive lip pursing while puffing accelerates wrinkles around the mouth. It’s never too late to quit.

Too Much Alcohol

Alcohol consumption can lead to dehydration, which causes skin to look sallow and dull, increasing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, Careccia says. Alcohol also causes damaging inflammation throughout the body and dilation of blood vessels, which may permanently widen and result in unsightly “spider veins” on the face. If you’re seeing red, it might be time to cut down on the booze.


­Any repetitive muscular contraction, such as squinting or frowning, can promote and deepen skin wrinkles, Careccia says. If you’re squinting in the sun, buy yourself a fabulous looking pair of sunglasses that block 100 percent of ultraviolet (UV) rays. If you’re squinting for any other reason, have your eyes checked. It might be time for prescription lenses.

Excessive Sun Exposure

Sun protection is not only crucial to preventing wrinkles, it’s critical in reducing your risk of skin cancers, including melanoma, which can be deadly. “Sun exposure is undeniably the biggest contributor to our skin’s aging process, and it is important to use daily protection in the form of hats and broad-spectrum sunscreens, preferably one that contains zinc as it’s main active ingredient,” Careccia says. Too much sun exposure can lead to a sallow and dull complexion, permanent brown spots, more wrinkles and sagging, and coarse or leathery skin texture. Opt for at least a 30 SPF daily; even in winter months the sun emits harmful UV rays.

Stressing Out

Stress is now recognized as an increasingly important factor in skin and total body aging, Careccia says. When cells are exposed to stress, they age more quickly. And cellular aging makes skin less supple and elastic. Stress also effects cortisol levels, a very important hormone that breaks down skin cells. Stress is unavoidable, but staying active, eating well and getting enough sleep can help.

Poor Nutrition

The saying “you are what you eat” is certainly true when it comes to your skin. The average diet is rich in complex carbohydrates and saturated fats, which can cause skin to age prematurely, Careccia says. Too much sugar not only impacts your weight, it can make you look older by damaging skin cells and altering both collagen and elastic tissue. And salt can lead to a bloated appearance. Stick to a healthy, well-balanced diet and your skin will thank you.

Not Getting Enough Sleep

Skimping on shut-eye can lead to dark circles, puffiness and a dull complexion. Sleep deprivation has been linked to increased incidences of obesity and diabetes, both of which further exacerbate and promote skin aging. So get your beauty sleep.

Wearing Makeup to Bed

Sleeping in makeup is a no-no. It prevents the skin’s natural shedding/exfoliation, which slows down the renewal process resulting in uneven, dull skin, says Lynda Lozano, a medical aesthetician at Cypress Day Spa in Tampa.

It also can clog your pores, leading to breakouts, acne and dull skin.

Makeup holds onto free radicals such as dirt and pollution, which can cause a breakdown of healthy collagen, resulting in fine lines and wrinkles. Keep some facial cleansing wipes on your night stand for those nights when you’re too tired to wash your face.

Yo-Yo Dieting

We all want to fit into favorite jeans, but losing weight too quickly, or yo-yo dieting, causes your skin to lose elasticity and sag, which makes you look old. Forget the crash diets and lose those extra pounds slowly and try to keep them off.

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