Avoid These Everyday Activities That Cause Skin Aging

Written by Johnny Zhao, MD, Board Certified Dermatologist on October 27, 2021 No Comments

woman wrinkle free

It’s natural for our skin to age. Over time, the aggregate effects of long-term exposure to UV rays and free radicals, along with the constant pull of gravity, result in a myriad of aging symptoms including lines, wrinkles, discoloration, and sagging of the skin.

One thing that can never be changed is this natural aging process. As we age, the skin loses supportive proteins like collagen and elastin, resulting in skin that becomes thinner and drier. There are numerous factors that cause this intrinsic aging (or aging that is outside of our control), including one’s genetics.

There are, however, many aging factors that are within our control. These extrinsic aging factors include environmental exposures and daily lifestyle choices, all of which can be altered in order to prevent (or at least slow down) aging of the skin.

One simple way to delay skin aging is to avoid everyday activities that accelerate skin aging including:

Not Practicing Safe Sun Care

Excessive exposure to UV radiation damages our skin, no matter the form. Both natural sunlight and tanning beds damage DNA and produce free radicals. Free radicals cause breakdowns in collagen. Loss of collagen leads to fine lines, wrinkles, or loose skin. In response do this damage, the skin also produces discoloration. Things that you can do to limit sun damage:

  • Stay out of sunlight during the brightest parts of the day
  • Wear sun-protective clothing, including wide-brimmed hats and sunglasses
  • Wear a full-spectrum sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher, daily


Smoking is harmful to the skin in a few ways. Not only does smoking increases free radical production, but also reduces blood flow to all parts of the skin. Once this happens, skin no longer has access to oxygen and circulating nutrients. The result is dryness, wrinkles, dullness and discoloration. In addition, repeatedly pursing your mouth around a cigarette contributes to fine lines around the lips.

  • If you currently smoke, consider quitting (and your skin can actually repair itself)
  • Avoid smoke-filled places

Excessive Alcohol Consumption 

Even a moderate amount of alcohol can cause dehydration of the skin. Excess alcohol consumption damages collagen and elastin, which support the skin’s structure.

  • Avoid excessive alcohol consumption
  • When drinking moderately, partner alcohol with plenty of water

Exposure to Dry Air 

Cold, dry winter air or dry artificial indoor heat can pull moisture out of the skin, which contributes to wrinkles over time. Dry skin may also aggravate skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis.

  • Limit exposure to cold, dry climates
  • Moisturize twice a day during the winter months
  • Drink plenty of water to keep skin hydrated

Eating An Unhealthy Diet  

Studies show processed foods and sugary, high-glycemic foods such as white bread and other starches contribute to facial aging and acne. Unhealthy diets lead to systemic inflammation which produces free radicals thereby accelerating the aging process.

  • Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables for diverse nutrients
  • Limit processed foods
  • Limit refined carbohydrates
  • Limit foods high in sugar

Being Overweight or Underweight 

Obesity stresses the body, which leads to inflammation and accelerated aging. Being underweight can also have consequences. Sufficient body fat is needed for plump, hydrated skin. A lack of sufficient nutrients also contributes to premature aging.

  • Maintain a healthy diet
  • Maintain a healthy weight

Not Exercising

Like a healthy diet, exercise helps with metabolism to keep the skin youthful. Moderate exercise also boosts circulation, delivering oxygen and nutrients to the skin while eliminating waste products such as free radicals. Exercise also reduces stress, a significant factor to premature aging.

  • Combine both strength-based and endurance training, at least 2-3 times a week
  • Take a shower after the workout!

Lack of an Anti-Aging Skin Care Routine 

Experts recommend beginning a preventative anti-aging skin care routine in your late 20’s or early 30’s. Products that slow the signs of aging are most effective before those signs are apparent.

  • Wash your face gently with a mild cleanser (harsh scrubbing and products that burn can cause irritation, which speeds up aging)
  • Use sun-protection daily, of SPF 30 or higher
  • Choose a daily moisturizer containing an anti-aging ingredient such as hyaluronic acid
  • Use products containing antioxidants such as Vitamin C or niacinamide
  • Consider an over-the-counter retinol product, or prescription retinoid 

Johnny Zhao, MD

Johnny Zhao, MD is a Board Certified Dermatologist specializing in medical, surgical, and cosmetic dermatology. Dr. Zhao attended Duke University and graduated cum laude with a degree in chemistry before completing medical school at The Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. He then completed his dermatology residency at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. Dr. Zhao is a member of the American Society of Dermatologic Surgery (ASDS), the American Academy of Dermatology, the Texas Medical Association and the Harris County Medical Society.

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