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Although our genes play a big role in how our skin looks and ages, many of the factors that determine how well (or not) skin ages, have to do with lifestyle decisions that we make every day. Bad choices can have a significant impact on your skin's health, making you look older than your years.

Here are 7 bad habits to avoid if you want to keep your skin looking young and healthy.

1.Smoking – Cigarette smoke not only damages your skin, but your health as well. Smoking generates free radicals and exposes your body to harmful ingredients. Research suggests that cigarette smoke (even if it's second hand) may damage skin as much as unprotected exposure to UV rays.

2.UV rays - Both the UVA and UVB rays associated with sun exposure can cause harm to skin. Over time, they can break down collagen and elastin, leading to wrinkles and sagging. As well, brown spots can appear and the risk of skin cancer increases. But you already know to minimize sun exposure and use sunscreen every day, right?! Choose a well formulated brand like [Link Removed].

3.Being a couch potato – Exercise not only makes you feel well mentally, it also tones muscles and helps to get blood flowing. This ensures delivery of nutrients to the skin and helps to keep hormones in check.

4.Drinking (too much!) – While there's nothing wrong with the occasional glass of wine (and research shows that one glass of red wine a day can actually benefit health), overdoing alcohol not only is harmful to your general health but also to that of your skin leading to dryness.  

5.Stress – Unchecked stress not only shows on your face, but can also increase the release of cortisol. When levels are high over prolonged periods of time, cortisol can cause premature aging of the skin. Learn to manage stress with exercise, meditation and relaxation.

6.Eating junk food - Diets high in processed foods contain sugar, saturated fats and toxins, which can cause havoc with your blood sugar and cholesterol levels. Increase your intake of fresh fruits and vegetables, lean protein and essential fatty acids to provide your body (and skin) with the nutrients they need to be healthy and vibrant.

7.Lack of sleep. Not getting enough sleep can make you feel tired and cranky. Plus it can show on your face as dark circles and bags under the eyes. Lack of sleep has been shown to contribute to memory loss and symptoms of depression. Aim for 8 to 9 hours each night and try to restrict activities (caffeine consumption too close to bed, eating near bedtime or stimulating activities) that may interfere with sleep. It's called 'beauty rest' for good reason.

Sharmani Pillay is a Registered Pharmacist who specializes in anti aging skin care and women's wellness. She owns and operates an online skin care store at [Link Removed].

Pharmagirl, Your links have been removed, please consider upgrading to premium membership.

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Member Comments

    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Vikki Hall wrote Jun 10, 2009
    • Other than maybe not sleeping well recently I am proud to say none of these apply to me.

      My question to you is this tho....

      If the skin on my face is aging so well why is the skin on my body so easy to get stretch marks? What is the difference?

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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Pharmagirl wrote Jun 15, 2009
    • Vikki:  

      Stretch marks appear upon rapid stretching of the skin (pregnancy, weight gain) and can also be associated with hormonal changes. Though they can appear anywhere, they tend to materialize on areas of the body with larger amounts of fat (buttocks, upper arms, thighs, hips, breasts). Since our faces tend not to have large amounts of fat, it is largely spared. Which is probably a good thing, considering all the other things we tend to worry about as we age....

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