There are a lot of positives that come with growing older—wisdom, maturity, and increased confidence being among them. However, one of the not-so-positive things that comes with time are the fine lines, wrinkles, and sagging we start to notice in our skin.
While there’s unfortunately no way to completely stop signs of aging from developing, there are preventative measures you can take to slow the process and maintain your skin’s youthful glow. The earlier you start, the better off you’ll be in the long run.
So what can we do to care for our skin and prevent premature aging? Keep reading to learn about five skincare mistakes to avoid for aging skin, as well as some helpful alternatives.
Mistake #1: Skipping Moisturizer
Whether your skin is oily, dry, or somewhere in between, using a good moisturizer is essential. The right moisturizer can help to keep the skin balanced and prevent it from becoming too oily or too dry, which is when skin problems are likely to flare up, such as acne, clogged pores, or flaking.
Moisturizing is also critical to preventing premature aging. Without it, skin can become dry, cracked, and vulnerable to elements that can damage its moisture barrier. This often results in wrinkles, fine lines, and sagging.
Alternative: A good moisturizer will help to keep your skin plump, firm, and glowing. While the formula you choose will be dependent on your skin type, in general, you can’t go wrong with one that contains ceramides. These long-chain fatty acids help to create a barrier that locks moisture into the skin, protecting it from dryness, irritation, and environmental damage.
If you’re looking for a moisturizer with ingredients specifically targeted for aging, consider one formulated with retinol. This powerful ingredient can help to stimulate collagen, encourage cell turnover, fade pigmentation, soften wrinkles, and even fight acne. Just be sure to use retinol only at night, as it can make your skin more sensitive to sun exposure.
When it comes to frequency, aim to apply moisturizer twice a day—morning and night. This will help to ensure your skin stays hydrated and protected at all times. Also, don’t forget to take your moisturizer down your neck! The skin on your neck is often the first to show signs of aging, so it’s important to treat this area as well.
Mistake #2: Not Wearing Sunscreen
Failing to wear sunscreen is one of the biggest mistakes you can make when it comes to caring for your skin. Unfortunately, the sun’s UV rays cause premature aging, a process dermatologists refer to as photoaging. Symptoms of photoaging include:
- Changes in pigmentation (such as the formation of age spots)
- Rough, uneven skin texture
- Broken capillaries
Photoaging occurs in the deepest layers of the skin, which means it can take years before these symptoms become visible. In more extreme cases, photodamage can lead to serious, long-term consequences like skin cancer.
Alternative: Whether you’re headed to the beach for the day or will be working at your desk by a window (yes, the sun can cause damage even when inside), it’s important to wear sunscreen. Typically, dermatologists recommend wearing one with SPF 30 or higher for full protection. If you have fair skin or are going to be spending your day in direct sunlight, you may want to opt for a higher SPF.
Additionally, it’s important to choose a formula labeled “broad spectrum.” This means that the sunscreen will help to protect your skin from the sun’s UVA and UVB rays—which both can have damaging effects.
Mistake #3: Sleeping With Makeup On
Another common skincare mistake that can take a toll on your complexion is going to bed with makeup on. While taking the time to fully remove your makeup may be the last thing you want to do after a long, tiring day, it’s worth it to save your skin from the damage that can occur.
Sleeping with makeup can lead to clogged pores, dull skin, and puffy, irritated eyes. It can also dry out the skin and deprive it from the benefits an effective nighttime skincare routine could provide. Not to mention, the makeup can rub off on your pillowcase and cause further irritation as you sleep on this same pillow multiple nights in a row.
Alternative: Taking the time to fully cleanse and replenish your skin at night is critical if you want healthy, glowing skin. In order to remove makeup fully, consider trying the double cleanse method, which involves using a cleansing balm or oil to break down makeup, and a liquid cleanser to remove any traces of makeup, dirt, and grime. For a deeper cleanse, exfoliate 1-3 times per week.
Once you’ve fully cleansed your skin, it’s important to replenish its moisture levels. At minimum, use a moisturizer—but if you’re looking to take your routine to the next level, you can also incorporate serums, oils, and treatments like masks to target specific concerns. Overall, this will help to nourish your skin and prevent signs of aging from developing.
Mistake #4: Being Rough with Your Skin
The skin on your face and neck is very delicate. Even if you’re someone who doesn’t have sensitive skin, it’s important to be very gentle. In general, here are a few things to avoid:
- Pulling or tugging the skin
- Going overboard with exfoliation
- Picking at breakouts
- Taking long, hot showers
- Combining or using too many active ingredients
While the effects of being rough with your skin might not be noticeable at first, they can accumulate over time. For example, consistently using harsh exfoliators, or exfoliating too frequently can cause microscopic tears in the skin, leaving it more susceptible to irritation and inflection.
Alternative: It’s important to be careful when choosing the products you apply to your face as well as the way in which you apply them. For example, alpha hydroxy acids can be great for exfoliating skin, but using them too frequently or mixing them with an ingredient like benzoyl peroxide can cause irritation and damage the skin.
Additionally, keep in mind that it’s best to apply skincare products with a light hand. Always apply your products in upward motions, as pulling skin downwards can lead to sagging. When applying product around your eye area, gently pat it in using your ring finger, which uses the least amount of pressure.
Mistake #5: Eating a Poor Diet
Ever heard the saying, “You are what you eat?” This isn’t just a myth—the foods you eat have a direct impact on your body, which includes the health of your skin.
While there are plenty of foods that can play a role in nourishing the skin, there are unfortunately a handful that can have a negative impact on your complexion. These include:
- Sugar: Foods and drinks that are high in sugar cause blood sugar levels to spike and drop throughout the day. Not only will this make you not feel the greatest, but it isn’t good for your skin. For example, studies have found that sugar can have a negative effect on collagen production, which can decrease elasticity in the skin. Sugar has also been linked to increased acne.
- Refined carbohydrates: Foods with refined carbs, like white bread, can cause inflammation in the body, which is directly linked to aging.
- Saturated fats: Saturated fats are found in foods like processed meat, butter, and sweets. Unfortunately, they have been linked to high concentrations of insulin growth factor, which may cause an increase in skin complications like acne.
Alternative: Rather than focusing on the foods you can’t eat, look for ways to incorporate foods that are good for the skin into your diet. These include salmon, avocado, leafy greens, whole grains, broccoli, and pumpkin seeds, just to name a few.
In addition to making good choices when it comes to your diet, it’s important to live a healthy lifestyle overall. Getting enough sleep and exercising are also critical to your skin and fighting the aging process in general.
Whether you’re 25 or 60, there’s no better time to start taking preventative measures and caring for your skin. The aging process is inevitable, but following these 5 tips can help to preserve your skin’s youth and keep it looking its best.