7 Ways You’re Giving Yourself Wrinkles (Without Even Realizing It)

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While most wrinkles are caused by the usual suspects of sun damage and smoking, some everyday habits — like resting your face in your hands — can also make them worse. (Photo: Getty Images)

No doubt you’ve heard that repeated sun exposure, smoking, and dehydration can cause wrinkles. So if you regularly wear sunscreen, don’t smoke, and drink plenty of water, you’re fine, right? Maybe not.

It turns out, there are a slew of other wrinkle-promoting habits you do every day without realizing it. “Eighty percent of our wrinkles are caused by the usual suspects like sun damage and smoking, while the other 20 percent can be attributed to other habits or activities we partake in without a second thought,” dermatologist Jill Waibel, MD, tells Yahoo Health. 

Sure, some wrinkles are inevitable, but experts say you can reduce the number of fine lines you develop over time by scaling back on these regular habits:

Drinking Through A Straw

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Using a straw may be good for your teeth — but it can have effects on your skin. (Photo: Flickr/Horia Varlan)

It seems innocuous, but frequently sipping drinks through a straw can cause wrinkles to form around your mouth. Why? When you drink through a straw, you end up pursing your lips. This repetitive muscle motion breaks down the collagen around your mouth, creating permanent creases in your skin, explains dermatologist Debra Jaliman, MD, author of Skin Rules. While drinking the occasional smoothie or cocktail out of a straw is fine, it’s best to skip the habit on a daily basis. 

Related: 7 Ways To Stave Off Wrinkles — Naturally

Cranking Up The Heat (Or A.C.)

It makes sense to turn up the heat in your place when it’s cold out, and the air conditioning when it’s sweltering. Unfortunately, central air can severely dry out your skin, leading to premature aging and wrinkles around your eyes and face, says Mirwat Sami, MD, a board-certified ophthalmologist specializing in plastic and reconstructive surgery. She recommends using a humidifier or, if you don’t own one, keeping a glass of water by your bedside at night to increase the humidity as you sleep. Moderating the heat or A.C. will also help keep the dryness to a minimum.

Chewing Gum

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Frequent gum-chewing is the enemy of smooth skin. (Photo: Flickr/Pen Waggener)

You might want to rethink your regular gum habit. “Chewing gum requires an excessive amount of muscle activity in the cheeks,” Waibel tells Yahoo Health. When that muscle activity is done repeatedly, it breaks down your skin’s collagen, causing wrinkles around your lips and cheeks. If you chew gum for fresh breath, try carrying a travel-size bottle of mouthwash in your bag instead and using it as needed.

Skipping The Sunglasses

Squinting regularly — into the sun, at your phone, etc. — causes a permanent furrow between your eyebrows, as well as crow’s feet around your eyes, says dermatologist Cynthia Bailey, MD. “Folding or creasing the skin over and over again in the same places almost ‘molds’ the wrinkles into the skin structure over time,” she tells Yahoo Health. If you don’t like wearing sunglasses, try stashing a small hat in your bag, and make it a habit to be more aware of how often you squint. 

Resting Your Face In Your Hands

Frequently rest your face in your hands? It might be time to stop. Propping your face up in your hands can create wrinkles in that exact spot. The action actually breaks down the collagen and elastic tissue by the pressure, says Jaliman. If you repeatedly rest your face in your hands in the same way, your odds of developing wrinkles in that spot skyrocket. 

Related: The 7 Worst Jobs For Your Skin 

Sleeping On Your Side

This sleep position may be good for those with back pain, but it can have effects on skin — especially for women. (Photo: Getty Images)

According to research, 41 percent of people sleep in the fetal position, and women are twice as likely as men to snooze in this position. But sleeping on your side can cause wrinkles between your breasts. Bailey says that, just like squinting, the creasing that occurs in a woman’s cleavage when she sleeps on her side can become permanent when it happens night after night. She recommends that women try to sleep on their backs or in a top that provides extra support.

Eating Too Much Refined Sugar

Refined sugar isn’t just bad for your health — it’s bad for your skin, too. Waibel explains: Eating too much sugar causes glycation, a process that occurs when your body has excessive amount of sugar. This affects the normal function of your cells as the excess sugar molecules join together with protein molecules to create products that are foreign to your body, also known as advanced glycation end products (AGEs). Theses AGEs affect collagen and elastin, causing them to break down. As a result, wrinkles and lines form on your face. The bottom line: It’s best to skip the refined sugar whenever possible.

Related: How To Get Glowing Skin