5 Causes Of Wrinkles That Have Nothing To Do With Your Age

Not all wrinkles are inevitable. What can you do?

It’s a part of life we all have to accept: Eventually, we’re going to get older, and our age will probably show up on our faces. I remember very clearly the first time I noticed my wrinkles. I was only in my late 20s, but there they were—fine lines, affectionately called “crow’s feet,” forming around my eyes. I was indignant. I had not yet hit the big 3-0. I had at least a few more years until I had to deal with the ravages of time, right?! No such luck.

While we all have to come to terms with the aging process sooner or later, it turns out there are other things besides the march of time that might be causing your wrinkles. Here are five reasons for wrinkles that have nothing to do with your date of birth, and what you can do reverse (or at least soften) their appearance.

1. You’re Not Wearing Sunscreen

If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a million times. You have got to protect your skin from the sun’s harmful rays! But it’s not just the risk of skin cancer—or even leathery-looking skin in your old age—that you have to worry about. Small bits of unprotected exposure can add up to premature aging way before you get your AARP card.

The important thing is to wear sunscreen every day, not just when you think you’re getting a ton of exposure. “It’s not just for the beach or pool,” Mona Gohara, M.D., an associate clinical professor of dermatology at Yale School of Medicine, tells Prevention. “You’re getting UV exposure taking a walk outside or even driving to work in your car.

So remember to lather up daily. To make it easier on yourself and kill two birds with one stone, snag a moisturizer with SPF.


2. You Haven’t Kicked The Habit

We know that smoking is bad for everything from our cardiovascular health to our risk of cancer to our wallet. If all of those reasons haven’t been enough for you to swear off cigarettes, maybe your vanity will save you. Turns out smoking is awful for the appearance of your skin.

“Smoking does a double-whammy on your skin,” says Gohara. “By physically pursing your lips around a cigarette, you end up with fine lines around your mouth. Plus, the chemicals harm your skin, making it look gray and leathery.”

smoking photo
Getty Images | Christopher Furlong

3. You’re A Carbaholic

Now this one is just not fair. You’ve heard about how sugar and processed carbs are terrible for your waistline and your overall health. Well, apparently your penchant for doughnuts and bagels is also probably doing a number on your skin. There’s even a term for it: “carb face” or “sugar face.” Too much sugar creates more testosterone, which in turn makes pores larges and skin oilier. If that wasn’t bad enough, sugar also is bad for two substances that keep your skin soft and supple: collagen and elastin. “It creates molecules that bind to collagen and elastin and weakens them,” explains Gohara.

doughnuts photo
Getty Images | Andrew Burton

4. You’re Beyond Stressed Out

We all deal with stress, and we know it’s not great for our health. Stress has been linked to everything from tension headaches and insomnia to more serious problems like cardiovascular disease. Now you can add premature aging as a reason to get your stress levels in check.

“Stress increases cortisol levels which will reduce the skin’s ability to hold moisture,” Maral K. Skelsey, M.D., board-certified dermatologist and Director of the Dermatologic Surgery Center of Washington, tells Eat This, Not That. “Additionally elevated blood sugar damages the collagen and elastin fibers in the skin. These are critical support structures that keep skin from sagging and developing wrinkles.”

stress photo
Flickr | Firesam!

5. You Consistently Miss Out On Sleep

If you’re having trouble logging a solid 6–8 hours of shut-eye per night, you might want to work on that. Not only can lack of sleep leave you stressed, exhausted and unhappy, but missing out on restorative sleep can wreak havoc on your skin.

“Lack of sleep contributes [to wrinkles] because the pH of the skin is altered by not sleeping enough and that skin cells’ ability to remain hydrated,” Skelsey explains. “Additionally, it’s during sleep that toxins are flushed from the body.”

tired photo
Flickr | A W Dimmick

Which habits might you need to change?