If we could describe our journey with antiaging, it would look a whole lot like a game of “Hungry Hungry Hippos.” In a not-so exciting turn of fate, we’re the hippo-feeding marbles. The hippos, like time, are picking us off, chomp by chomp. Skin, hair, nails—nothing is safe. Goodbye, collagen. Hello, gravity.
That’s why Southern women aren’t too proud to accept a little help, in the form of wrinkle-busting retinols and skin-blurring foundations and breakage-bandaging hair masks.
Despite all of this antiaging prowess, some things still undoubtedly slip through the cracks. That’s how we found ourselves making a guide to all things “making you look older like the sneaky, sneaky little snakes they are.”
We picked the most common beauty mistakes that you might not know you’re making. Are you more makeup junkie than hair care guru? Check out the supplemental guides we’ve linked on each section. (You’re an over-achieving bunch, we’d wager.)
These are the top skincare, hair care, and makeup mistakes that are secretly making you look older.
Skincare Mistake #1: Not wearing SPF every. single. day.
This should go without saying. I mean, seriously. Nonetheless we still feel a need to rank it number one priority. Sun-induced skin damage can weaken your skin elasticity, cause collagen reduction, accelerate the development of fine lines and wrinkles, and (of course) lead to skin cancer. Pick from one of our favorite face sunscreens here.
Skincare Mistake #2: Avoiding retinol because it’s “too harsh”
If you're scared to try retinol after hearing rumors that it's mega-harsh, please hold while we grab the world’s smallest violin. Don't believe this hullabaloo, Janet. In fact, there are retinol and retinol-alternative products that minimize wrinkles and fine lines while feeding your skin with plenty of other good-for-you ingredients.
One of our ultimate go-to retinol products is the RoC Retinol Correxion Deep Wrinkle Anti-Aging Facial Serum. But if you have sensitive skin prone to irritation, look for a product with bakuchiol, a plant-based retinol alternative, such as Olehenrikson Glow Cycle Retin-ALT Power Serum.
For good measure, make sure you’re layering it with hydrating products infused with hyaluronic acid or glycerin.
Hair Care Mistake #1: Reaching for the bleach
Or asking your stylist to do it. (Does that make it second-degree hairslaughter? An accessory to hair follicle murder?)
As you get older, it's time to say no to continuously lightening your strands into oblivion. Bleach is used to lift your natural color, which leads to damage that makes your hair dry, brittle, breakage-prone, and bendy. It’ll age you in an instant. Instead, embrace semi-permanent color that either sporadically lightens certain strands, like balayage, or just touches up your roots to keep gray at bay.
To keep your hair healthy, soft, and full of shine, make sure to invest in reparative products, such as the now-iconic Olaplex Hair Perfector No. 3.
Hair Care Mistake #2: Manhandling your strands (without realizing it)
This monster takes many shapes.
Heat damage? We suggest switching to an air-dry situation, using your blow-dryer on the cool setting only, or investing in a top-notch heat protectant.
Breakage? Start sleeping on a silk pillowcase (which prevents both breakage and wrinkles!), brush your hair with a gentle detangling brush like the beloved Tangle Teezer, or stop doing that rough towel-drying thing.
Over-processing? Like we said, avoid over-bleaching and start using reparative products on a weekly basis.
These hair care tips are little tweaks that can prevent unnecessary damage. What we don’t want: unhealthy, less youthful-looking hair. What we do want: a mane that rivals Rapunzel. Too much to ask?
Eye Makeup Mistake #1: Lining your waterline
If ladies are still out here lining their waterline with any color other than nude (that actually makes your eyes look bigger and more awake!), it’s time to enter the 21st century. Lining your waterline with kohl black might have been a thing, say, 10 or 20 years ago. But then we realized—after seeing one too many beady-eyed photos of ourselves—that it only makes your eyes look smaller, duller, and harsh. It’s a one-way ticket to looking older, more tired, and all-around sad.
Instead choose a not-too dark eyeliner color (shop according to your eye color!) and line the upper lash line and, if desired, use a dampened eye shadow brush to lightly line the outer corner of your bottom lash line.
Eye Makeup Mistake #2: Choosing the wrong under-eye concealer
When it comes to under-eyes, there are two words you really don’t want to hear: dark or sallow. That’s when color correcting becomes your new bestie. Choose a shade or two lighter than your skin tone to brighten without looking washed-out.
If you’re prone to waking up with dark circles, using concealer with a pink tint will counteract best for fair skin tones, and choosing a concealer with an orangey-yellow tint helps counteract best on darker skin tones.
Our go-to under-eye pick: Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Dark Circle Treatment Concealer.
Lipstick Mistake #1: Picking the wrong formula
If you’re looking to rock a lip color that’s not just your natural nude, you’re going to want a long-wear formula. Repeat after us: You want long-wear. You need long-wear. End of story.
That being said, you don’t necessarily need a matte formula to get major stayability. Matte can be high-maintenance and drying on your lips, which (as we know) naturally become drier as we age.
“Liquid matte lipstick definitely will not wear, but if you want something that’s less commitment, I’d go with a velvety long-wear finish instead,” says makeup artist Vincent Oquendo. “It’s creamier but not to the point where it will bleed into fine lines.”
Lipstick Mistake #2: Forgetting the liner
Those hard-earned fine lines and wrinkles love to let a little product slip, hm? Avoid smudging and bleeding by always prepping your canvas with a lip liner that either favors your natural lip color or matches your lipstick shade. It creates a barrier between your skin and lipstick to avoid any runaway color.
Our go-to liner: Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Lip Pencil (and its 30-plus shade range).
Foundation Mistake #1: Skipping the primer
Much like the lip liner rule, using primer is essential to keep foundation in its place all day long. As we get older, it’s best to transition to using foundation formulas that are hydrating. This is due to the fact that our skin naturally loses collagen, starts feeling dry, and can end up looking dull. A hydrating foundation gives back a dose of healthy glow.
To help your foundation stay all day (and not settle into fine lines!), a primer creates another sort of barrier between product and skin.
Our go-to non-drying formula: It Cosmetics Your Skin But Better Oil-Free Makeup Primer.
Foundation Mistake #2: Using a powder formula
We’ve all seen someone afflicted with what can only be called the “chalky effect.” And nobody wants to be a chalky Charlsie. She tends to arrive powdery, probably over-blushed, and donning indigo blue eyeliner.
Since our skin becomes increasingly dry and dehydrated as we get older, a powder foundation only exacerbates the issue. It settles into all of your fine lines, and the matte texture finish instantly ages you. Avoid at all costs!
Our go-to antiaging foundation: Estée Lauder Perfectionist Youth-Infusing Makeup SPF 25.
Eyebrow Mistake #1: Plucking like you’re stuck in the 90s
As in, ultra-thin. Hopefully we all left our Tweezer-happy days before we entered the new millennium—but sometimes the brows don’t forget. If your brows are suffering from post-Tweezer stress, make sure to invest in good brow products to fill them in a natural-looking way. It instantly makes you look more youthful and bright-eyed.
Start with a filler product like NYX Professional Makeup Microbrow Pencil, and finish with a volumizing tinted gel like cult-favorite Benefit Cosmetics Gimme Brow Volumizing Eyebrow Gel.
WATCH: 9 Eye Makeup Mistakes That Are Secretly Making You Look Older
Now that you’re armed with enough antiaging know-how to get you started, go forth and kick gravity’s behind.