Take charge of your health. Sign up for HealthyWomen newsletters:
Healthy Living > skin
Find out more about:
aging skin

8 Wrinkle Causes—Other Than Aging

By Stacey Feintuch

Share on:

Wrinkles. Does the word alone make you shudder? Many factors cause our skin to get wrinkles. Some we can't do anything about because they're part of the natural aging process. But did you know that you can play an active role in influencing some factors that have nothing to do with getting older?

Find out what habits and practices are affecting your skin. And then see if you can curb, change or eliminate them. Even if you already have signs of prematurely aging skin, it's never too late to start making lifestyle changes that will benefit your skin.

1. Smoking
You're likely aware of the long list of reasons to quit smoking. Here's another: Lighting up is one of the most common causes of wrinkles. Smoking can accelerate your skin's normal aging process, contributing to wrinkles. It may restrict blood flow to your skin, says the Mayo Clinic. And that makes it difficult for skin cells to reach the oxygen and nutrients necessary to regenerate and stay healthy. Also, smoke's chemicals break down your skin's elastin and collagen. And of course, pursing your lips to puff creates fine lines around your mouth.

2. Skipping sunscreen
You know that sunscreen is important. But an occasional tan won't hurt right? Unfortunately, most signs of aging come from unprotected skin exposure—even just a few minutes worth. How? Exposure to harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays breaks down your skin's elastin and collagen. Without these supportive tissues, skin loses its flexibility and strength. Then it starts to sag and wrinkle. That's why you should wear sunscreen daily, regardless of the weather. Otherwise, you're accelerating the aging process. (Just be aware that many sunscreens aren’t the SPF they claim to be.) And don't be tempted to skip sunscreen even if you're inside your car. Remember that the sun still hits your face while you're driving and that some car windows don't block out UV light.

3. Picking pimples
You may have the urge to pop your zits. But you're creating scars, irritation and, yes, wrinkles, when you pull and pick at your skin. Your best bet is to use over-the-counter or prescription products to help get rid of acne or let pimples heal on their own.

4. Eating a poor diet
As they say, “You are what you eat.” Cliché, yes. True, indeed. Since the skin is our largest organ, it's no surprise that it's the first part of your body to show nutrient deficiencies, including wrinkles. That's why it's important to consume a healthy, well-balanced diet. The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) says that a few studies have suggested that eating a plentiful amount of fresh vegetables and fruits may help prevent damage that leads to premature skin aging. And findings from research studies suggest that a diet high in sugar or other refined carbohydrates promotes aging, says the AAD. Not sure where to start? Find out the 10 Best Foods for Healthy, Beautiful Skin.

5. Squinting to see the computer screen or television
Each time you squint, a groove forms underneath the skin, says the Mayo Clinic. As skin gets older, it loses its flexibility and can't return to how it was, causing wrinkles. So if you sit too close to or too far away from the computer or the TV, constantly straining and squinting to see the screen, you're causing fine wrinkles around your eyes. Consider making an appointment with your optometrist to make sure your eyes are in optimal shape and that your prescription, if you have one, is up to date.

6. Chewing gum
Chomping on gum forces your mouth to continuously form different shapes. And if you chew frequently, these formations can lead to a downward turn in the corners of your mouth, a pronounced muscle at the bottom of the jaw line or a wrinkle on your lower mouth.

7. Eager for fresh breath? Opt for mints or mouthwash.
Sleeping on your stomach or sideIf you sleep on your face, your comfy and beloved pillow can give you wrinkles. How? Consistently pushing your face into your pillow creates creases that can eventually lead to permanent wrinkles. Sleep on your back if you can, placing a pillow beneath your knees to help prevent you from flipping over. Can't give up stomach or side sleeping? Try a satin pillowcase; it slides across your face and is less abrasive than one that's cotton.

8. Not removing makeup
Too tired to remove your makeup? When you sleep in your makeup, those cosmetics plus the pollutants you acquired throughout the day seep into your skin, breaking down elastin and collagen. And that can lead to fine lines and wrinkles. Find out the best ways to remove makeup at Face Washing Mistakes You Never Knew You Were Making.

Bothered by signs of aging skin? Consider seeing a dermatologist who can discuss your options with you.