Special Report

'Harmless' Habits That Are Actually Aging You Faster Than You Can Imagine

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16. Losing weight too fast

Most people want to lose weight very fast — as in 10 pounds in one week. And while it’s technically possible, it’s extremely unhealthy. “The body needs to lose weight at a healthy paste,” said Gioffre, who is also a celebrity nutritionist. “Otherwise, the body’s chemistry is off, electrolytes are off balance, and the skin sags.” Extreme limited-nutrition diets do more harm than good. While some weight loss may be a desired result, it comes at a steep price, including possible higher risk of dehydration, malnutrition, electrolyte imbalances, and muscle loss. The skin is among the first organs to suffer.

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17. Avoiding fatty foods

You may be thinking that you’re doing your body a favor by not exposing it to fat, but this is not entirely true. You should avoid trans fats, which can wreak havoc on your body, but your body needs healthy fats, especially essential fatty acids (EFAs). Certain foods are rich in essential fatty acids, including fish, nuts, avocado, eggs, chia seeds, olive oil, and some fortified foods. Omega-3s and omega-6s fatty acids are also essential for building healthy cells. They help produce the skin’s natural oil, which keeps it hydrated and glowing.

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18. Exercising too much

No one is arguing that exercise is bad for you. Research has shown that a lifetime of regular exercise can actually slow down aging. But overdoing it doesn’t have the same effect. Working out hard for too long puts the body in a stress mode. Stress makes the body release cortisol, which may break down elastin and collagen, two major proteins in the skin that keep it healthy, tight, and plump. Lack of these proteins can accelerate aging and make the skin dry and wrinkly.

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19. Staring at electronic devices

Americans now spend more time on their mobile devices than watching TV. You may not have thought about it, but this affects your skin. “Although the majority of skin damage comes from UV light, we now know that other wavelengths on the electromagnetic spectrum can contribute to breakdown of collagen and elastin fibers and result in more rapid aging,” Richmond said. These wavelengths include high energy visible light (HEV), which is in the blue/violet colors and infrared light. The visible light wavelengths are emitted from devices such as phones and computers, and they may theoretically augment wrinkles over long periods of cumulative exposure, Richmond explained. HEV may also flare photosensitive skin conditions such as melasma or lupus, she added.

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20. Smoking only a little bit

Everybody knows that smoking is terrible for you because of the numerous negative effects it has on the body, many of which are immediate — in general, smoking increases the risk of several serious and potentially diseases. So people who don’t smoke often tend to say they are only “social smokers.” But your skin doesn’t care. “Smoking is seriously aging to the skin,” Richmond said. We all know about smokers’ lines around the lips, but that’s not all. The carbon monoxide in cigarettes replaces the oxygen in your skin, and nicotine reduces blood circulation, leaving the skin dry, Richmond explained.