Even some of the most harmless habits can have major skin-damaging consequences. And the worst part? You might not even realize you’re causing harm in the first place. There are so many common things you do throughout the day that can increase your risk for wrinkles over time, whether it’s spending hour upon hour staring at your phone or even putting perfume on your neck. And not just while you’re awake, either: Some of your nighttime routines can be detrimental to your complexion, too. Drop these habits before you see lines and creases pop up.
Roughly Removing Your Makeup
It’s incredibly important to take your makeup off at night and give your skin the chance to breathe. When you do so, you just have to be super gentle. Because the skin around your eye area is especially thin and fragile, celebrity esthetician Renée Rouleau says too much tugging and rubbing as you’re taking off your makeup can cause wrinkles. Instead, there’s a much gentler method you can use.
“Saturate the cotton pad or toning cloth with an oil-free, liquid eye makeup remover. Hold it on the eyes for 20 seconds to dissolve the makeup, then gently wipe it away,” she writes. “The key is to let the eye makeup dissolve so it makes for less rubbing and tugging of the eye area. And be sure to limit your use of waterproof mascara, as it’s very difficult to remove.”
Not Wearing Sunscreen
By now, you should know wearing sunscreen every day—not just when you’re at the beach—is incredibly important in preventing skin cancer. But it’s crucial in avoiding wrinkles, too. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends wearing a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 every single day, even in the winter.
Sipping Out of a Straw
Everyone is ditching plastic straws, and that’s a good thing for the environment and your skin. It turns out all those iced coffees are putting you at risk of premature wrinkles due to using the same muscle—the orbicularis oris muscle—over and over again. “When you drink from a straw, you pucker your lips in a repetitive motion similar to smokers. Over time, this increases the formation of wrinkles around the mouth,” says cosmetic dentist Dr. Lana Rozenberg.
Smiling All the Time
There’s only one downside to being a big smiler: the wrinkles that can come along with all those grins. “The pull of gravity and the repetitive movements of facial muscles can cause wrinkles. Over time, repetitive movements—such as smiling—break down collagen in your skin and create lines,” writes Steven Dayan, MD. Don’t stop what you’re doing, though—happiness is important! Everyone’s going to have wrinkles eventually, so they might as well be from smiling too much and enjoying every second of life, right?
Sure, gum is great at keeping your breath minty-fresh. One thing it’s not so good at, though? Keeping your skin wrinkle-free. But don’t worry: It can only cause wrinkles if you’re chewing it a lot. “Many of my patients who are gum chewers have a certain pattern of wrinkles around their mouth, and I think the gum is responsible to some degree for it,” says dermatologist and cosmetic surgeon Joel Schlessinger, MD. “We’re not talking about the occasional gum chewer. We’re talking about the person who has a habit of chewing gum and is rarely if ever seen without a piece of gum in their mouth.”
Not Getting Enough Sleep
Slacking on the sleep front doesn’t just make you groggy and grumpy—it can also set you up for a future of wrinkly skin. According to a 2013 study from the University Hospitals Case Medical Center, researchers found a lack of sleep could lead to increased signs of aging, all because you’re not giving it the time it needs to refresh. “This research shows for the first time, that poor sleep quality can accelerate signs of skin aging and weaken the skin’s ability to repair itself at night,” says Daniel Yarosh, PhD.
Giving In to Your Sweet Teeth Too Often
Obviously you’ve gotta treat yourself to a pumpkin spice latte every now and then. Just make sure you’re not loading up on sugar too often for the sake of your skin. According to the Cleveland Clinic, sugar—as well as refined carbs—can spike your blood sugar, which leads to the release of inflammation-causing insulin that can damage your skin. “Sugar binds to the elastic and collagen fibers that make skin look plump and youthful. Damage to these fibers means less support for your skin—and more wrinkles,” says dermatologist Melissa Piliang, MD.
Spending Hours on Your Phone
All that scrolling through Instagram and watching YouTube videos on your phone might seem harmless enough, but that’s not the case when it comes to your skin. According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, “that constant downward gaze” could lead to lines and creases in your neck—better known as “tech neck.”
Going to Bed With Your Makeup On
No matter how exhausted you are after a long day, don’t ever go to bed with a face full of makeup; it can seriously age your skin. “This is due to unnecessary free radical exposure. During the day, your skin is exposed to free radicals and other oxidative stressors, which can break down collagen and cause line and wrinkle development. Sleeping with your makeup on seals these free radicals onto the surface of the skin all night long,” says licensed aesthetician Jamie Cantu.
Not Protecting Your Skin While Driving
It might not seem important to wear sunscreen while you’re driving, but all that sun exposure you’re experiencing during your commutes to work could put you at risk for wrinkles. Since car windows don’t block out as many harmful UV rays as you think, the sun exposure can cause “skin leathering, sagging, and brown age spots,” as well as put you at risk of skin cancer—particularly on your left side, which faces the window, says the Skin Cancer Foundation.
Just like smiling can eventually lead to wrinkles, the same goes for frowning. According to Steven Dayan, MD, the repetitive movement of your facial muscles when you’re sulking can give you a permanent grumpy cat appearance down the line. So if you’re going to do any wrinkle-causing movement, you might as well make it a smile.
Getting Overly Stressed
Stress is responsible for everything from mental health issues to physical problems like heart disease and diabetes. The one thing most people don’t really think about, though, is how it affects their skin, too. If you’re not finding ways to reduce your levels—like through exercising or meditating—you could put yourself at risk of wrinkles (and worse!), all thanks to the buildup of the stress hormone cortisol in your body. “Cortisol also has the power to accelerate the aging process of the skin, rapidly enhancing common unwanted aging signs like lines and wrinkles, age spots, and skin dullness,” says licensed aesthetician Erma Morris.
Not Sleeping on Silk Pillowcases
It’s time to ditch the cotton pillowcases and go for an option that’s better on your skin. According to Swinyer-Woseth Dermatology, cotton can be pretty rough, causing your skin to tug as you move around in your sleep. With soft pillowcases, on the other hand, your skin smoothly slides around and won’t leave you with wrinkles over time. You don’t need to get too fancy, though: These silk alternatives are $18 for a two-pack and work like a charm.
Slacking on Your Water Intake
Since your skin is your body’s largest organ, you have to make sure it stays super hydrated to stay healthy—otherwise it’s going to get dry and wrinkly. And the best way to do that is to chug water all throughout the day—even if it means more trips to the bathroom. “You may experience more wrinkles if you don’t drink enough water because water helps plump the skin internally,” says dermatologist Dr. David E. Bank.
Putting Perfume on Your Neck
How harmful can spraying perfume on your neck really be, right? Well, according to one expert, you’ll smell good, but you might be putting yourself at risk for wrinkles. “Your favorite perfume or cologne is likely to contain alcohol, which when applied to your exposed skin during daylight hours, causes it to become photosensitive to sunlight,” says Lawrence Jaeger, MD. “This means your skin is more likely to suffer from sunburn, leading to wrinkles, a pigmentation and possibly even skin cancer.”
Well, it might be time to book an appointment with the eye doc—unless you want to deal with wrinkles around your eyes. Just like smiling and frowning can cause wrinkles over time, so can another common repeated expression: squinting, says Steven Dayan, MD. If you’re having trouble seeing, grab some glasses or contacts before you start forming fine lines because of it.
Not Eating Enough Healthy Fats
If you’re not regularly eating healthy fats, you could be giving wrinkles the chance to settle in earlier than you’d like. (And yes, this is your excuse to eat avocado toast on the daily.) “Eating a good diet with lots of healthy fats from olive oil, avocado, and nuts will nourish your skin,” says dermatologist Melissa Piliang, MD.
When it comes to preventing wrinkles, the last thing you want is to be dealing with is dry skin—something that makes your complexion more prone to aging. To stay as youthful-looking as possible, the American Academy of Dermatology recommends moisturizing on the daily, which traps water in your skin and helps reduce the appearance of fine lines, giving you an overall youthful glow.
Applying Makeup Too Roughly
Roughly removing makeup can cause wrinkles to form because of all that tugging—and the same goes for when you’re putting on your products. According to Theraderm, pulling your lids to apply eyeliner or pulling at your skin while blending in eye shadow can result in damage to the very delicate skin around your eyes.
Drinking Too Much Alcohol
A happy hour every now and then is totally fine—and well-deserved! Just make sure you’re not overdoing it. “Drinking alcohol, especially right before bed, can leave you dehydrated. Dehydrated skin leads to wrinkles, so rather than ending the night with a glass of wine, grab a hydrating glass of water as a nightcap,” says Stefani Kappel, MD.
Sleeping On Your Side or Stomach
Over time, you get used to a certain way of sleeping and it’s hard to sleep in any other position. Sleeping on your side or stomach, though, can set you up for a future of wrinkles. According to a 2003 study published in the Scandinavian Journal of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery and Hand Surgery, the way you sleep plays a role in how wrinkled your skin is, and sleeping on your side or stomach is the primary culprit.
Not Getting Enough Vitamin C
It’s time to up the amount of bell peppers, kiwi, oranges, broccoli, and other vitamin C-rich foods in your diet. A 2007 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found those who ate higher intakes of the vitamin had better-aging skin than those who didn’t.
When it comes to the health of your skin, smoking is one of the worst things you can be doing. According to the Mayo Clinic, it can speed up the aging process of your skin, making wrinkles pop up on your face and the rest of your body, not just because of the nicotine, but also because you’re constantly using the same muscle you use while sucking out of a straw. There are plenty of reasons to kick the habit, and your complexion is just one of them.