Wrinkles get a lot of attention on RealSelf. The word’s been searched more than than 14,000 times since the start of the year, and RealSelf communities like Wrinkle Treatment and Skin Care have upwards of 3,000 questions directed at doctors. One major concern on people’s minds: how to prevent wrinkles from forming in the first place.
Our advice: Consider your environment.
Aging in the Bedroom
You probably never considered how much time you spend in your bedroom. Whether catching up on sleep or cuddling up with Netflix, people spend hours in this room’s particular climate. That kind of long exposure can really affect the skin, said dermatologic surgeon Dr. Joel Schlessinger.
“Low humidity depletes your skin of moisture,” he said. “In winter, we’re also more likely to use indoor heat. As a result, skin is left feeling dry, tight, and uncomfortable.”
Cranking up your thermostat is understandable in chilly weather, but if you keep the heat blasting even while snoozing, try a humidifier.
“Running a humidifier in your home can add moisture to the air and help prevent dry skin,” said Dr. Schlessinger, who recommends keeping the humidifier below 60% for optimal results. Just remember to change out the water every day and clean it once a week to reduce the chance of bacteria growth.
How you sleep also makes a difference. Tossing and turning can form lines and wrinkles, said the doctor.
“These wrinkles are the result of your face being repeatedly compressed against a pillow each night, stretching, pushing, and pulling the skin,” said the doctor. “The best way to avoid sleep wrinkles is to sleep on your back, as it prevents your skin from coming in contact with your pillow.”
Aging in the Office
All those devices plugged in at home can age you faster than you think. Ever heard of “tech neck”?
“On average, people stare at their cell phones for almost three hours a day,” said Dr. Schlessinger. The neck’s delicate skin doesn’t like that kind of physical strain. “It adds stress on the muscles and nerves, which can do damage over time.”
Charlotte’s Book expert and New York City dermatologic surgeon Dr. Paul Jarrod Frank said the same about holding your neck at such low angle: “This can cause the collagen in your neck to break down,” he said, which can “create an undesirable turkey-looking neck.”
Try holding your device slightly higher than normal to improve your posture. Dr. Schlessinger explains why that works: “The head normally weighs about 10 pounds when the spine is straight. However, when you’re holding your head at a 45-degree angle to look down at your phone, the head weighs about 49 pounds.” So even a slight change in elevation can make a big difference.
Aging in the Bathroom
Your bathroom aging your skin may seem unlikely, but certain actions like makeup application can make lines and cracks more visible.
Holding a static facial expression or moving your muscles in the same way can create creases in the skin, said Dr. Schlessinger. Over time, those continuous duck faces and raised brows break down collagen and elastin, allowing wrinkles to form.
For skin-friendly application, the doctor recommends applying foundations and creams with a more relaxed expression. This lets your skin naturally move as you apply makeup. Need another beauty hack? Try using a brush instead of your finger. This creates less pressure on your skin.
Also consider your lighting. Different types of light bulbs have varying levels of UV emissions, which, depending on the bulb, can equate to the same kind of exposure as direct sun. Dr. Schlessinger recommends LED and incandescent bulbs; their lower UV emissions mean less risk of sun damage.
Here’s another piece of good news: Charlotte’s Book says there are no known aging effects from your cell phone’s bright glow.
Aging in the Kitchen
This one’s a no-brainer: watch what you eat if you want to keep a youthful appearance. But what vices should you specifically avoid? Dr. Schlessinger recommends passing on excess amounts of sugar and alcohol. They can leave your skin dehydrated and inflamed as your kidneys work overtime to remove excess fluid.
“Fine lines and wrinkles easily form on dry, dehydrated skin,” said the doctor. “The complexion often becomes pale, dull, or gray, adding years to your appearance.”
Not that you need to totally ditch your go-to sweet treats and cocktails.
“The important thing to remember is moderation,” he said. “An occasional sweet treat or glass of red wine won’t do much harm, as long as you balance it out with a healthy diet.”
Aging on the Deck
Skipping out sunscreen is never a bright idea.
“UV radiation bounces off sand, water, snow, and pavement, causing skin damage even when you’re not in direct sunlight,” said Dr. Schlessinger. That’s why it’s important to wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen — one that protects against both UVA and UVB rays — whenever you’re out on the deck.
Bring along those sunglasses too. Reflective surfaces can damage your eyes and, Dr. Frank said, lead to crow’s feet.
Try a pair of UV-blocking sunglasses, which will screen out nearly all potentially damaging rays.
Interested in learning more about any of these procedures? Ask a doctor.