“I want to look older faster!” said nobody ever. Although aging is an inevitable part of life, there are destructive habits you may have that are causing you to age faster. And we’re talking about the possibility of wrinkles and risks of cancer even in your 20s... Yikes!
According to Dr. Sarika Ramachandran, a dermatologist at the Ronald O. Perelman Department of Dermatology at New York University, the skin is an outward reflection of your inner and general health. Thus, an unhealthy lifestyle causes a lot of accelerated aging such as wrinkles and sagging earlier than normal, and you may not only be causing yourself to look older faster, but also shortening your lifespan by putting your long-term health at risk. Her Campus spoke with Dr. Ramachandran to help warn collegiettes about the 5 worst habits that could be aging you sooner than you’d like!
Bad Habit #1: Not Applying Sun Protection Year-Round (Yes, that also means winter!)
The sun can make us feel nice and warm and can even provide us with some Vitamin D, but without proper protection from its harmful ultraviolet rays (UV rays) we may be doing more harm than good. According to the American Association of Dermatology (AAD), unprotected exposure to UV light damages fibers in the skin called elastin. When these fibers are broken down, the skin’s tightness starts to be broken down as well. It can start to sag, stretch, and lose its ability to go back into place after stretching. The skin will also be more prone to bruises and tears that take longer to heal. Not staying protected will cause prematurely damaged and aged skins as well as put you at risk for certain skin cancers.
Dr. Ramachandran says, “Using sun protection from an early age is really important. Since UV rays exist year-round and can even pass through clouds, it’s important to use sunscreen year-round even in the winter months.” Both snow and sand reflect the sun’s UV rays, the snow by 80% and sand by 20%. She also recommended staying under the shade, wearing tightly woven or darker clothes, and using an umbrella especially on particularly hot, sunny days in addition to applying sunscreen.
But what kind of sunscreen should you be using? Dr. Ramachandran says that the official recommendation from the AAD is to use a sunscreen with a SPF of 30 or greater, although any amount of SPF at least 15 or greater can be helpful. She noted that one should get a broad-spectrum sunscreen, meaning it protects from both UVA and UVB rays, which can both negatively affect skin. UVA rays can even pass through window glass, so this kind of sunscreen keeps you protected even indoors on sunny days. In terms of application, Dr. Ramachandran says the best time to apply daily sunscreen is in the morning after you shower or wash your face. Make sure to cover as much of your exposed body as you can. Certain facial moisturizers with SPF as opposed to regular sunscreens may be friendlier to the more sensitive skin on your face. We recommend Clinique Sun Broad Spectrum SPF 50 Sunscreen Body Cream ($23) for your body and Cetaphil Daily Facial Moisturizer for All Skin Types, SPF 50 for your face.
Bad Habit #2: Going Tanning
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, over a million Americans, 70% of whom are girls and women ages 16 to 29, visit a tanning salon daily. This is absolutely horrifying considering that tanning has been associated with a significant increase of risk for melanoma, which Dr. Ramachandran pointed out is the deadliest form of skin cancer. She says, “Tanning may provide short-term color, but that extra exposure to UVs can really translate to early photoaging and skin cancer. It really accelerates photoaging by causing the formation of premature wrinkles and freckles since you’re exposing yourself to uninterrupted, concentrated ultraviolet light.”
Perhaps the orange, I mean olive, tone isn’t worth the saggy, wrinkled, dry skin sure to catch up to you. Not to mention the formation of cancerous cells! Why not try Sephora’s St. Tropez Bronzing Lotion ($30) instead to achieve that warm glow you really want without putting yourself at risk by UV light exposure. Its Aromaguard™ fragrance technology eliminates the telltale self tan aroma by a minimum of 70%, and it’s also an Allure Best of Beauty Award Winner!