Mistakes That Make Your Skin Age Faster

point_listAlthough I spend much of my day correcting other people’s skin problems and the consequences of damage from the past, I always try to teach my patients preventive efforts to help avoid ongoing skin damage.  Such helpful regimens not only prevent costly skin treatments in the long run, but they are also useful for protecting the long-term benefits of the treatments I perform on these patients.

For this blog post, I thought I would outline some of the most common influences that I see that are making people age faster than they should.  Here is my list of the mistakes that make your skin and face age faster than they should.

unhealthy_diet1.) Bad Diet Choices– Over and over again, I see the effects of good and bad dietary habits.  As you might expect, high calorie and processed foods that are high in sugar, salt and preservatives result in poor nutrition, which affects the health of the skin both in terms of appearance and texture.

This can be corrected easily by increasing the amount of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains in your diet.  Many studies have shown the health benefits of a predominantly plant-based diet for many health issues from heart problems to the skin.

2.) Poor Sleep–  There is an abundance of research showing that inadequate amount and quality of sleep adversely affects your health and the appearance of your skin.  Good sleep, optimally 7 to 8 hours per night, recharges your body, your brain, and your skin.  “Beauty sleep” is a real thing.

stressed_out3.) Stress–  We as humans are built to respond to stress with what is known as a “fight or flight” response, which helped us survive as a species.  Unfortunately, in modern life, we are subjected to constant stress both physical and emotional that keeps our bodies subject to the stress hormones.

These stress factors include cortisol, which over time make us feel and look older.  We have all known people who look considerably older after they have been through a very stress period of time.

There are many methods to deal with modern stress, from meditation to yoga to relaxation.  However, one actually has to use one or more of these methods in order for them to be effective.

4.) Inactivity–  Lack of exercise limits circulation, softens muscle, and causes atrophy.  All of these consequences decrease the foundation of the healthy skin.  Don’t be a “couch potato,” unless you want to look like the old shriveled root crop that the expression describes.

5.) Sun Exposure–  I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: The sun is not your friend.  Ultraviolet radiation has a profoundly negative impact on the skin.  Unfortunately, I frequently see people in their 40s who have the skin of a 70-year-old, mostly due to the harsh aging effects of years of excessive unprotected sun exposure.

no_smoking_or_drinking6.) Toxic Exposure–  In this category, I put all the other bad stuff we put in our bodies.  These include tobacco (the worst by a country mile), excessive alcohol, recreational (i.e. illegal) drugs, and other toxins to which we may be exposed in the environment.

They all have adverse effects on the body, but many of them particularly affect the skin, accelerating the aging process.  From my many years of practice, I can walk into a crowd of people and easily pick out those who are smokers or have smoked heavily in the past just by the look of their skin.

It goes without saying that you should not smoke or use unprescribed drugs.  Alcohol is fine in moderation, but don’t overdo it if only for the sake of your skin.


This is definitely one of those lists where you should do the opposite of each listed item to get the most out of the information.  Like your mother and your primary care doctor have been trying to tell you for years, eat a balanced diet, get plenty of rest and exercise, don’t smoke, don’t drink alcohol to excess, and wear your sunscreen.

In addition to all the other health benefits of these preventative measures, you will look and feel younger too.  I guarantee it!

As always, if you have any questions about your skin, don’t hesitate to call us at (207) 873-2158.  You may also call that number to schedule a free confidential consultation.

About Dr. John Burke

John Burke M.D. has practiced medicine for over 25 years, and is the founding partner of MidMaine Internal Medicine. He established Maine Laser Skin Care in 2004 after devoting years to learning the latest in laser and dermatologic technology. Dr. Burke has treated patients from all over the United States. He is one of Maine's busiest practitioners in laser treatments, and in the use of Botox for upper facial lines and excessive sweating.
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