Both age and genetics play an important role in when and how many wrinkles appear on your face, but they aren’t the only factors contributing to your crows feet.
Here are 7 other surprising reasons why you’re getting wrinkles, and what you can do to help prevent them:
1. Sun damage
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, around 90% of skin damage is caused by sun exposure. You’ve heard it time and time again, but wearing sunblock with sufficient SPF is a must for combating the signs of ageing. And slapping it on only for sunny days won’t cut it – UVA rays can even travel through glass to damage the collagen in your skin.
It’s been linked to weight gain, an increased risk of dementia and even brain damage, so it’s little surprise that sugar could be a culprit behind those pesky laughter lines.
A diet high in refined carbohydrates can lead to faster ageing, and one 2007 study published in the British Journal of Dermatology found that sugar creates Advanced Glycation End Products (AGEs), which damage proteins including collagen and elastin (i.e. the ones that give your face a plump, youthful look). Make the swap to whole grains and low GI foods like oats, wholegrain bread and brown pasta.
3. Your pillowcase
Sleeping on your side or stomach may be wreaking havoc on your skin, and over time this excessive pulling of the skin can contribute to ‘sleep wrinkles’. You can prevent this by either sleeping on your back or opting for silk pillows that help your skin retain moisture overnight and slide, rather than pull, against your skin.
A 2010 study published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology looked into the effects of pollution on skin ageing and found that exposure to dirt, car exhaust and other environmental pollutants increased the likelihood of developing age spots and wrinkles.
Combat the effects of pollution with a diet high in antioxidants from foods like berries and leafy greens, and omega-3 fatty acids found in oily fish like mackerel and salmon. And don’t forget to remove makeup before you go to bed, as this can also ‘pollute’ the skin.
You can blame cortisol, the hormone related to stress, for everything from your expanding waistline to your ever-growing number of wrinkles. Not only does chronic stress cause inflammation, but losing out on sleep due to stress over long periods of time prevents the skin rejuvenating whilst you’re asleep.
Not only is smoking linked with the onset of grey hairs (and a barrage of other health problems including cancer and heart disease), but it’s one of the worst offenders when it comes to wrinkles. Everything from puckering your mouth around a ciggie to the toxic chemicals you inhale can worsen wrinkles on your face.
Anything that dehydrates your skin can make wrinkles worse, and alcohol is no exception. Ever wondered why your skin looks sallow (and about 5 years older) after a heavy night drinking? Drinking to excess over time strips the body of nutrients and can cause the skin to lose elasticity.