By Stephen J. Praetorius.
Sooner or later, we all start to look old. Maybe it’s a errant shock of gray hairs mysteriously appearing at the temples, or maybe it’s a handful of not quite massive, but also not quite fine lines stretching across a once smooth forehead. Either way, the unstoppable march of time beats on, and it’s sure to show somewhere on your person. Good news is, that’s why we have things like retinol and Botox, to help keep your skin looking at least semi-fresh should you not be ready to accept the unfortunate consequences of getting older. The bad news is, though, that certain bad habits can make the symptoms progress even faster and, if you don’t cut them out of your life now, will make you look twice as old in half the time. These are those bad habits; do yourself a favor and avoid them at all costs.
1. Soaking Up Too Much Sun
And we’re not just talking about straight-up sunbathing during the summer months, either. In fact, it’s everyday rays that tend to do the most long term harm, since so many people forget (or neglect) to apply any sort of SPF to their poor, unprotected skin on the daily, leaving it susceptible to UV-induced damage and cancer.
2. Or Not Getting Enough Of It
On the flip side of the coin, there are also studies out there that show Vitamin D deficiencies, caused by not getting enough natural light exposure, can also lead to certain types of advanced-stage cancers. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. But please, use SPF.
3. Not Getting Nearly Enough Sleep
It’s been barely a hot second since we talked about sleep deprivation, so we won’t get into explicit detail here, but let’s just say that without a solid 8 hours, you can kiss your youthful, elastic, pimple-free skin goodbye.
4. Ignoring Moisturizer (Or Using the Wrong Stuff)
Every man’s skin has its own specific needs. Some guys have extremely oily skin; others are as dry as the goddamn Sahara. Whichever way your punim leans, if you’re not moisturizing regularly, and with skin type-specific stuff, you’re doing yourself a disservice. Because the tools are out there. Not using them is just bad judgement.
5. Using Cheap-Ass Soap
We get it, good soap can be expensive. Especially at the rate you go through it, using only premium bars can cost a pretty penny. But that dime-a-dozen drugstore stuff is only going to take its own toll in the long run, too, stripping skin of necessary natural oils and leaving behind a film of residue that’ll continue to mess with your pelt as the day goes on. So get yourself something at least half-decent. Bonus points if it’s got an exfoliant.
6. Not Staying Active
Fun fact: working out won’t only keep your muscles taut, but it’ll also do the same for your skin. That is, exercise has been shown to keep skin looking healthier for longer by improving blood flow to the outer layers, which in turn boosts oxygen levels and sweeps away harmful waste products. One more reason you need to re-up your gym membership.
7. Stressing Out
Over the years, scientists discovered that stress, and the elevated cortisol levels that goes along with it, can be tied to anything from heart disease and hypertension to decline in libido levels, erectile dysfunction, and so much more. So it’s not at all surprising that stress can mess with the skin, further decreasing collagen over time. That said, it’s nonetheless true.
8. Not Eating The Right Stuff
The good: omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, fiber, low-glycemic meals, Vitamins A, C, and E. The bad: inflammatory foods, sugary snacks, high-fat meat. You are what you eat, as they say.
9. Drinking More Than Your Fair Share
Ever noticed how heavy drinkers tend to look that much older than their teetotaling counterparts? Well, consider that mystery solved.
Seriously, you need another reason to quit smoking?
This story originally appeared on GQ.com.
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