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What makes a womans face look older?

11 ways to reduce premature skin aging

Many things cause our skin to age. Some things we cannot do anything about; others we can influence.

One thing that we cannot change is the natural aging process. It plays a key role. With time, we all get visible lines on our face. It is natural for our face to lose some of its youthful fullness. We notice our skin becoming thinner and drier. Our genes largely control when these changes occur. The medical term for this type of aging is “intrinsic aging.”

We can influence another type of aging that affects our skin. Our environment and lifestyle choices can cause our skin to age prematurely. The medical term for this type of aging is “extrinsic aging.” By taking some preventive actions, we can slow the effects that this type of aging has on our skin.

How to prevent premature skin aging

As people age, it’s natural to experience thinner, drier skin and an increase in wrinkles and other signs of aging. However, your environment and lifestyle choices can sometimes cause your skin to age prematurely. To prevent premature skin aging, board-certified dermatologists recommend following these simple tips.

11 ways to reduce premature skin aging

The sun plays a major role in prematurely aging our skin. Other things that we do also can age our skin more quickly than it naturally would. To help their patients prevent premature skin aging, dermatologists offer their patients the following tips.

  1. Protect your skin from the sun every day. Whether spending a day at the beach or running errands, sun protection is essential. You can protect your skin by seeking shade, covering up with sun-protective clothing — such as a lightweight and long-sleeved shirt, pants, a wide-brimmed hat, and sunglasses with UV protection — and using sunscreen that is broad-spectrum, SPF 30 (or higher), and water-resistant. You should apply sunscreen every day to all skin that is not covered by clothing. For more effective protection, look for clothing with an ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) label.
  2. Apply self-tanner rather than get a tan. Every time you get a tan, you prematurely age your skin. This holds true if you get a tan from the sun, a tanning bed, or other indoor tanning equipment. All emit harmful UV rays that accelerate how quickly your skin ages.
  3. If you smoke, stop. Smoking greatly speeds up how quickly skin ages. It causes wrinkles and a dull, sallow complexion.
  4. Avoid repetitive facial expressions. When you make a facial expression, you contract the underlying muscles. If you repeatedly contract the same muscles for many years, these lines become permanent. Wearing sunglasses can help reduce lines caused by squinting.
  5. Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet. Findings from a few studies suggest that eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables may help prevent damage that leads to premature skin aging. Findings from research studies also suggest that a diet containing lots of sugar or other refined carbohydrates can accelerate aging.
  6. Drink less alcohol. Alcohol is rough on the skin. It dehydrates the skin, and in time, damages the skin. This can make us look older.
  7. Exercise most days of the week. Findings from a few studies suggest that moderate exercise can improve circulation and boost the immune system. This, in turn, may give the skin a more-youthful appearance.
  8. Cleanse your skin gently. Scrubbing your skin clean can irritate your skin. Irritating your skin accelerates skin aging. Gentle washing helps to remove pollution, makeup, and other substances without irritating your skin.
  9. Wash your face twice a day and after sweating heavily. Perspiration, especially when wearing a hat or helmet, irritates the skin, so you want to wash your skin as soon as possible after sweating.
  10. Apply a facial moisturizer every day. Moisturizer traps water in our skin, giving it a more youthful appearance.
  11. Stop using skin care products that sting or burn. When your skin burns or stings, it means your skin is irritated. Irritating your skin can make it look older.
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Note: Some anti-aging products prescribed by a dermatologist may burn or sting. When using a prescription anti-aging product, this can be OK. Just be sure to let your dermatologist know.

Never too late to benefit

Even people who already have signs of premature skin aging can benefit from making lifestyle changes. By protecting your skin from the sun, you give it a chance to repair some of the damage. Smokers who stop often notice that their skin looks healthier.

If signs of aging skin bother you, you may want to see a dermatologist. New treatments and less-invasive procedures for smoothing wrinkles, tightening skin, and improving one’s complexion are giving many people younger-looking skin.

You’re never too young or old to see a dermatologist.

Learn why no one understands your skin better than a board-certified dermatologist.

Female dermatologist with patient

Related AAD resources

  • How do I prevent skin cancer?
    Following these tips can prevent skin cancer and premature skin aging.
  • Face washing 101
    How you wash your face can make a difference in your appearance
  • How to select anti-aging skin care products
    Selecting anti-aging products does not have to be a hit-or-miss experience.
  • How to maximize results from your anti-aging skin care products
    Dermatologists share their expertise to help you get the best results.

Castanet J, Ortonne JP. “Pigmentary changes in aged and photoaged skin.” Arch Dermatol. 1997 Oct;133(10):1296-9.

Chung JH, Hanft VN, et al. “Aging and photoaging.” J Am Acad Dermatol. 2003 Oct;49(4):690-7.

Kadunce DP, Burr R, et al. “Cigarette smoking: risk factor for premature facial wrinkling.” Ann Intern Med. 1991 May 15;114(10):840-4.

Rabe JH, Mamelak AJ, “Photoaging: Mechanisms and repair.” J Am Acad Dermatol. 2006 Jul;55:1-19.

Last updated: 2/24/21

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What Does 30 Look Like Now We’ve All Lost Touch With Ageing?

Full disclosure, I’m over 30. Most of my friends are in the same age bracket as me and there’s one phrase we’re all very used to hearing: «You don’t look your age.» What often follows is that there’s «no way» anyone would ever think we’d passed that three-decade milestone. It’s always said as a compliment — and that’s how we’ll take it — though most of us can’t help but wonder, is it true? And is it really a bad thing if we happen to look our age?

In 2021, the general expectation seems to be that 30 is over the hill. When the clock strikes midnight on day 365 of being 29, you turn into an old crone from a Disney film. Of course, this isn’t the case in reality. So what’s with this school of thought? Do we really look younger these days or has everyone simply forgotten what it actually looks like to be 30?

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The rise of the ‘tweakment’

Advances in the beauty industry and social media (in particular filters and editing apps) may have something to do with it. Dr Ana Mansouri, aesthetic doctor at Kat & Co, says that it is becoming more difficult to assess a patient’s age. Why? Rejuvenating ‘tweakments’ are more common than ever. Take the brand-new thread lift, which mimics the results of a face lift, nose job and lip plumping injections without the downtime, or TikTok’s obsession with forehead filler. All of these procedures (plus many more) have followed the so-called ‘Zoom boom’, whereby video calls during various lockdowns have magnified many people’s insecurities, including lines, wrinkles and pigmentation.

«Some patients look a decade or so younger than their actual age thanks to injectables and medical skincare,» says Dr Ana, who performs anti-wrinkle injections, injectable skin boosters and dermal fillers among other skin treatments. Dr Jonquille Chantrey, anti-ageing expert and founder of One Aesthetic Studio, adds: «It’s nothing new that women are judged on their looks and how they age, which can lead to insecurities. Aesthetic medicine can have a profound positive impact on self-esteem and self-confidence but the accessibility and normalisation of anti-ageing aesthetic treatments (particularly through social media) has had a significant impact on the benchmark of what a woman in her 30s ‘should’ look like.»

Zara, 32, agrees that anti-ageing treatments and injectables play a part in the confusion around her age. She says she is regularly mistaken for being five years younger than she really is. «I’ve been getting Botox and filler ever since I turned 30,» she told me. «I’d noticed fine lines, sun damage and dark circles. My lips looked thinner, too, which I felt bad about. People do tend to think I’m younger than I am, so it’s not a waste of money.» Zara says her sister, who is 24, already gets filler and preventative Botox. «I think it’s definitely blurring the lines between ages, as our skin looks similar.» It goes both ways, though. Zara admits that many younger girls appear older as a result of some aesthetic treatments, for example lip and cheek filler. «I think it adds to the confusion,» she says.


The Instagram effect

Dr Ana believes that video and picture sharing apps may have an impact on how we perceive ageing. «Extreme editing culture on social media has caused both patients and some practitioners to feel pressured into achieving unrealistic and dramatic anti-ageing results,» she says. Editing apps and filters quite literally blur the lines between digital life and in-person reality. As we increasingly spend our lives online, this has to play a role in how age is viewed.

TikTok has been found to automatically filter and change face shapes (whether you want it to or not) while Instagram and Zoom can smooth out skin and tweak your features. It has also been reported that certain mobile phone cameras automatically airbrush skin. We recognise that filtered photos can affect mental health and self-esteem; tech giants have even incorporated this into their device design guidelines.

It’s easier than ever now to see how we could look if the perfectly normal signs of ageing were erased from our faces. In some ways, these ‘advances’ in technology make it feel as though we’ve lost touch with our real appearance. Or perhaps the issue is that it sets an unrealistic standard for ageing. If every photo is filtered, blurred or tweaked without us even realising, it’s no wonder many of us are disconnected and confused about what growing older really looks like. Add to that the various lockdowns, where we’ve existed mainly on Zoom and Face Time. Do we really know what anyone our age truly looks like unless we see them in person?

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Advances in skincare

When it comes to beauty shopping, the global anti-ageing market is predicted to be worth an enormous £306 billion by 2030. Looking youthful is big business. Though there have been attempts to eliminate the phrase ‘anti-ageing’ for painting a perfectly natural experience in a negative light, this kind of skincare is more popular than ever before. No7’s ‘age-defying’ retinol flew off the shelves recently, while brands are formulating skincare products with smart ingredients that mimic Botox, like epidermal growth factors (EGF).

It has even been reported that young adults are thinking about premature ageing and how they can prevent lines, wrinkles and pigmentation. On TikTok, teens are starting skincare routines that focus on using anti-ageing ingredients like acids and antioxidants such as vitamin C well before they notice any signs of ageing. Thanks to brands like The Inkey List and The Ordinary, great skincare is more accessible than ever. Coupled with the rise in preventative aesthetic treatments, it’s obvious that many of us are stalling the telltale signs of ageing. Perhaps, then, we do look a little younger.

As well as this, our beauty habits have changed for the better. Laura, 35, has experienced people going out of their way to reassure her that she «doesn’t look 35», an intended compliment which makes her feel odd. She doesn’t see her age — or looking it — as a negative thing. «Sometimes, the way people react when I say that I’m 35 is funny. There seems to be this perception that after 30 you’re going to look ancient.» That said, Laura has a stellar skincare routine inspired by the beauty industry’s focus on ‘slow ageing’ (take Vichy’s Slow Age skincare range and Avon’s Anew) rather than anti-ageing. «I’ve been into SPF for years because I’m so pale, which I think is a big part of why people think I’m younger than I am now,» says Laura.


Dr Ana cites our obsession with a daily dose of SPF (not just in the summer months) to fend off premature ageing caused by UV light, pollution and other environmental factors. «We also tend to look after our skin condition with safe tanning habits and other lifestyle measures,» says Dr Ana. There is more awareness of the effects of spending time in the sun and using sunbeds, not to mention smoking and drinking alcohol. «Patients are becoming more proactive and realising that prevention is better than cure,» she says. «A healthy lifestyle and active skincare combined with gentle tweakments like Profhilo and ‘baby Botox’ are the most popular for slowing down the ageing journey in people of this age group,» she adds.

There are multiple factors which may impact how your skin looks, including lifestyle and access to treatments but especially hormones and genetics — things we’re mostly unable to control. Laura raises an important question: «What does any age look like? Everyone’s different. Why is looking under 30 the goal?» The pressure to appear a certain way is stressful to say the least. London dermatology registrar Dr Zena Willsmore recently took to Instagram to share her frustration at women feeling like they have to hide their age. «Recently, my little girl innocently asked my friend how old she was. There were giggles in the room of ‘Oh, you should never ask a lady her age’,» Dr Willsmore wrote in the Instagram caption. «The notion of women hiding our ages feeds into the idea that once we reach a certain age, we become aesthetically and functionally redundant. It suggests that our value to society has an expiry date.»

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There is a disparity between men and women. Amara, 31, has noticed a difference between how people talk about her age versus her male partner’s age. She says she isn’t sure if it’s down to relationship stereotypes (typically an older man with a younger woman) or her skin colour as a Black woman. «Everyone always thinks my partner is older than me,» Amara says. «He’s actually a couple of years younger. I hated looking young as a teenager but I’m happy with my appearance now. I got asked for ID when buying alcohol a few months ago and I think I’ve got my melanin to thank for that.» Amara hasn’t had any work done but she wouldn’t be against the idea, especially, she says, if she felt as though she looked older than 31 and began to feel unhappy about her appearance.

Self-esteem issues

Like Laura mentioned, if we’re constantly told that appearing 29 and under is the goal, it’s going to have an impact on our self-esteem. This is already happening on TikTok where a worrying trend is emerging that sees women harassed about their appearance. Interestingly, many of these comments are dished out by other women. With ‘looking old’ being perceived as a negative, ageing has become another way to put women down online.

Rather frustratingly, women are judged regardless of whether they embrace the ageing process or smooth, syringe and skincare their way to a more youthful appearance. The many comments under Madonna’s Instagram posts prove this. «You don’t look the way you used to: why are you afraid of aging?» commented one Instagram user, while another said: «You would be much much prettier if you accepted your wrinkles and your age. You don’t look good with this plastic face. » There is pressure from all sides, whether it’s reinforcing that looking younger than 30 is better, or negative comments that you need work done.


That said, Dr Willsmore believes social media can be a force for good when it comes to embracing ageing. «Maybe I am an optimist but I do see the tides changing,» she continued on Instagram. «This is partly due to social media that enables representation from people that perhaps would be rejected by conventional media outlets. This representation and visibility of women of every age group is so important for future generations.»

6 daily habits that can make you look older than your age

Seems like you’re ageing before time? You can avoid it by letting go of the bad daily habits that can make you look older than your age.

skin care ingredient combinations

Natalia Ningthoujam Published: 21 Jan 2023, 17:30 pm IST
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Remember your teenage days when a little bit of foundation and eye make-up would make you look all grown up? Well, that was just a temporary moment. But growing old is something that can’t be stopped or reversed. It’s inevitable, but ageing before your actual time can be in your hands. You might not realise it, but there are daily habits that can make you look older than your age. Right from drinking alcohol to staying dehydrated, there are many bad habits that affect your skin. Just make healthy lifestyle choices, and see how they affect your looks.

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HealthShots got in touch with dermatologist Dr Jushya Bhatia Sarin to know about the daily habits that can make you look older.

1. Not moisturising your skin

Mornings might be busy for you. By night time, you might be all tired to reach out for your moisturiser. This is one of the many bad habits that can make you older than your age. Dr Sarin says that well-moisturised skin looks supple and maintains a healthy skin barrier.

daily habits can make you look older

2. Not removing your make-up before bedtime

If you have time to apply make-up in the morning and doing a bit of touch-up hours later, you should also take out time to remove make-up. Not removing your make-up and going to bed can compact your skin pores and lead to acne.

3. Over exfoliation

Do you exfoliate every day? It’s not such a good idea as too much exfoliation using harsh scrubs can lead to micro tears in your skin. The expert says this can lead to pigmentation over a period of time.

4. Too much sugar intake

Do you like to have sugar in your morning tea and evening tea or sugar in snacks or in desserts or drinks? That’s a lot of sugar consumption in a day and you need to control it. Sugar molecules cause glycation of collagen, and this process leads to quicker collagen degradation.

daily habits can make you look older

5. Staying dehydrated

Dehydration can lead to many health problems, and it will show your face too. You should know signs of dehydrated skin. If you don’t stay hydrated, the moisture from your skin will also disappear (signs of dehydrated skin and ways to fix it).

6. Drinking alcohol

Drinking alcohol is bad for your skin, and if it’s your daily habit, it’s definitely time to say goodbye to it. Alcohol takes fluids out of your skin, so it will feel dry after drinking. Once dryness becomes your skin’s friend, it won’t take much time for wrinkles to pop up.

Healthy habits for your skin you can try instead

1. Moisturise according to your skin type

Every woman’s skin type varies, which calls for different moisturisers (how to moisturise skin the Ayurveda way). Dr Sarin suggests women with oily skin to use a gel-based moisturiser. Those with dry skin can go for a cream-based moisturiser. As for women with normal skin, lotions work just fine.

2. Exfoliate one or two times a week

This is sufficient to remove the dead skins cells without over stripping or irritating your skin.

3. Wear sunscreen under your make-up

Go for a sunscreen with SPF 50 and PA+++ (very good protective abilities against UVA rays) before applying any make-up product.

About the Author
Natalia Ningthoujam

Natalia Ningthoujam has written on various subjects — from music to films and fashion to lifestyle- as a journalist in her nearly 13-year long career. After getting stories from the crime scene, police headquarters, and conducting interviews with celebrities, she is now writing on health and wellness which has become her focus area. . Read More

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