People sometimes ask me why I always look so serious. The truth is, I’m not actually upset … I’ve just trained my face to maintain the most neutral expression possible—no hints of smiles or frowns—so that I minimize my chances of getting wrinkles. Yes, I’m that obsessed. Ponce de Léon may not have found the mythical Fountain of Youth, but I am determined to keep fighting the good fight, always seeking new and novel ways to turn back the clock.
Our skin is subject to both intrinsic aging and extrinsic aging. Intrinsic aging is a normal and unavoidable part of the aging process: Starting in your twenties, collagen production decreases, cellular turnover slows, and skin begins to show subtle signs of age, such as fine lines, thinness, and dryness. Extrinsic aging, on the other hand, is caused by factors within our control. Serious skin-care devotees know that sun exposure and smoking are the biggest causes of extrinsic aging, but there are a host of other small habits that have detrimental effects on the skin. Some of these habits may seem harmless, but over time, they can contribute to our facial skin’s looking many years older than it really is.
1. Not Wearing Sunglasses
Making facial expressions is a little like a workout for our maxillofacial muscles. After a lifetime of squinting—either from the sun or from poor eyesight—the muscles around our eyes become tighter and less able to relax, causing the overlying skin to wrinkle. Wearing sunglasses when it’s bright outside can help us maintain a neutral expression on our faces and prevent crow’s feet.
Sleeping in Makeup
Although it happens to us all every so often, regularly sleeping with makeup on has negative effects on the skin. Our pores secrete sebum, which lubricates and protects our skin, but when they’re clogged with makeup, sebum production backs up. The result is not only troublesome acne, but also skin that isn’t as moisturized and supple as it should be.
Sleeping on Your Stomach
Besides being bad for your back, sleeping on your stomach with your face on the pillow can cause skin to be smushed for hours on end. Young skin bounces back easily, but as skin gradually becomes less adaptable and elastic, the grooves and impressions left by the pillow can turn into permanent lines and wrinkles.
Not Eating Enough Fat
While no one would suggest that Ding Dongs and Twinkies will help you eat your way to good skin, it’s important to have some fat in your diet, along with the requisite healthy fruits and vegetables. There’s a thin layer of subcutaneous fat underneath our skin all over the body, and this layer provides shape and contour to the facial skin, a contour that’s closely associated with youth. A lifetime of extreme fat restriction can deplete this layer, leaving the skin on top to droop and sag. Our body naturally loses this fat layer as we age, and helping it along by restricting our dietary-fat intake only speeds up the process.