These Bad Everyday Habits Can Cause Wrinkles, According To Dermatologists

It’s no secret that washing and caring for your skin can prevent wrinkles later in life. But seemingly innocent, everyday actions can also make you look older. Dermatologists have pinpointed the most common habits that etch lines into your skin.

Sure, forgetting sunscreen may seem like an obvious cause. But spending too much time on your computer or phone can age your skin, too. Even washing your face in a certain way will carve lines into your skin. Learn the wrinkle-causing habits that dermatologists and estheticians strongly discourage.

How Often Do You Rub Your Eyes?

A man rubs his eyes while sitting on the couch.
Carolyn Van Houten/The Washington Post via Getty Images
Carolyn Van Houten/The Washington Post via Getty Images

If you rub your eyes too often, you may create some wrinkles. Dermatologist Sejal Shah says that rubbing stretches the collagen and elastin in the skin around your eyes. Over time, this can create visible wrinkles if you do it too often.

However, dermatologist Ronald Brancaccio believes that most people are unlikely to rub their eyes that often. “Rubbing can cause irritation or dryness, [but it] won’t cause permanent wrinkles,” he told ABC News. In short, try not to rub your eyes frequently, but it’s not the end of the world if you do.

Yes, You Should Wear Sunscreen Every Day

A woman rubs sunscreen on her arm.
Sina Schuldt/picture alliance via Getty Images
Sina Schuldt/picture alliance via Getty Images

Although many people only wear sunscreen for long outings in the sun, the American Academy of Dermatology recommends applying sunscreen every day. Dermatologist Shilesh Iyer told Forbes that UV rays are always present. Clouds, weather, or glass do not block them.

Anna Chien, a dermatologist of John Hopkins Medicine, recommends SPF 30 for indoor use. If you spend time outside, use SPF 60 or higher. Although some makeup products include SPF, most are not enough to effectively protect your skin, she says. Applying sunscreen is the number one method to avoid wrinkles in the future.

Don’t Forget Your Sunglasses

A woman wears sunglasses while walking outside.

Sunglasses prevent the sun’s UV rays from damaging the eyes, but it has another benefit for the skin. Cosmetic dermatologist Avan Shamban told Yahoo! that sunglasses stop people from squinting. Over time, squinting can result in “crow’s feet” or noticeable wrinkles around the eyes.

That said, certain types of sunglasses can hurt your skin, too. Dermatologist Vivian Bucay says that aviators, which often have metal rims, often reflect sunlight that burns your skin. Plus, the larger the glasses, the more skin you’ll protect. Aim for larger sunglasses with a plastic frame!

How Straws Give You Wrinkles

A woman in a hat sips a drink through a straw.
Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty Images
Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty Images

Yes, even seemingly-innocent straws could be harming our skin. In an interview with HuffPost, dermatologist Rebecca Baxt said that people purse their lips while sipping a straw. Like frowning, this pursing motion can create wrinkles if you repeat it enough.

That said, an occasional straw won’t age your face overnight. Dermatologist Heather Woolery-Lloyd emphasizes that you’d have to drink from straws often to get wrinkles. According to a 2015 study in Cell Research, continually pursing your lips visibly ages your skin. Don’t use straws all the time, and you should be fine.

Spend Some Time Off Your Computer

A woman works on her laptop.
Yelena AfoninaTASS via Getty Images
Yelena AfoninaTASS via Getty Images

In 2017, scientists at the Unilever Skincare Research found that four days in front of the computer does the same skin damage as 20 minutes in the midday sun. In short, computer light ages you. High energy visible light, also called HEV or blue light, penetrates your skin to create spots and lines.

Currently, there isn’t much research on the skin damage caused by computer light. The American Academy of Dermatology and other dermatologists still worry about the long-term effects, though. And squinting at your screen certainly prompts wrinkles.

The Dangers Of Staring Down At Your Phone

A young woman looks down at her phone.

Regularly staring down at your phone has long-lasting consequences. The phenomenon is called “tech neck;” the more you look down, the more lines appear on your chin and neck. The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery warns that smartphone users should have better posture.

Currently, researchers are studying tech neck to see how dangerous the risk is. But it’s still something to keep in mind since the average millennial checks their phone 150 times per day, according to a 2016 study.

Turn Down The Water Temperature

A man washes his face in a sink.
GO TAKAYAMA/AFP via Getty Images
GO TAKAYAMA/AFP via Getty Images

Piping hot water feels relaxing, but it doesn’t assuage your skin. Plastic surgeon and dermatologist Terry Maffi says that hot water may dry out your skin. Over time, this skin irritation could strip your body’s natural oils and make you age prematurely.

The American Academy of Dermatology says to use warm water to wash your face. Since cold water doesn’t remove dirt effectively, your best bet is a comfortable, moderate temperature. Plus, many skincare products are tested with warm water, according to Dr. Rocio Rivera of L’Oréal Paris.

Car Drivers Still Require Sunscreen

A woman looks out the window as she drives a red Ferrari.
Keith Hamshere/Getty Images
Keith Hamshere/Getty Images

It’s no secret that UV rays etch lines into the skin. But UV rays are sneaky, and they can still affect you when you’re indoors. The Head of Global Training for Ultraceuticals, Tracey Beeby, recommends applying sunscreen when you sit by a window, even while driving. UV rays can shine through the glass.

Pascale Guitera, an associate professor of dermatology at Melanoma Institute, says that you only need a shot glass full of sunscreen for your entire body. Apply sunscreen every day, underneath makeup, with an SPF of at least 15. That’ll reduce wrinkles as you age.

Avoid Resting Your Head In Your Hands

A hand puts half of his face in his hand.

We get it; sometimes, we’re tired and want to drop our heads in our hands. But doing so spreads all the germs from your hands to your face. Plus, it doesn’t help your skin, says dermatologist Rachel Nazarian. Resting your head in your hands overlaps the skin and can permanently etch lines in your face, she says.

As with most wrinkle-causing habits, you have to do this over time to create a result, says Dr. Shah. You may not notice how often you place your cheek in your palm, but you may see the difference over time.

Are You Getting Enough Sleep?

A man sleeps at his work desk.
THIERRY ROGE/AFP via Getty Images
THIERRY ROGE/AFP via Getty Images

As it turns out, “beauty sleep” is a real thing. In 2013, researchers found that poor sleepers had faster-aging skin. Not only that, but their skin also received more damage from environmental factors such as UV rays. Participants who slept poorly recovered more slowly from sunburns.

That’s why wrinkles on the forehead, cheeks, and chin are called “sleep lines.” Some dermatologists don’t think that sleep impacts skin, according to the National Sleep Foundation. But there is some scientific evidence that better rest means fewer wrinkles.

Do Not Exfoliate Every Day

A woman wears a face mask on the left and is dressed up on the right.

Exfoliating makes your skin look younger, right? In theory, yes, but dermatologists warn against using an exfoliator every day. “Over time, it can actually thin the skin and cause it to wrinkle more easily,” esthetician Carris Lindsey told Glamour.

But why is exfoliating bad? According to celebrity facialist Joanna Vargas, over-exfoliating removes the natural oils from your skin. It also irritates the top layer of skin before it can heal, which can create long-lasting results. For best results, only exfoliate every two to three days.

Stop Using Harsh Soaps

A person holds a bar of soap over a tub.

When it comes to soap, harsher doesn’t mean cleaner. An aggressive cleanser might feel like it’s doing the job, but it could be harming your skin, according to dermatology professor Mona Gohara. “When people use harsh soap in order to get a squeaky clean feel, they strip their skin of its natural oils and accentuate fine lines,” Dr. Gohara says.

Dermatologist Jessica Wu recommends a gentle cleanser that will fight acne while maintaining your skin’s youth. Ditch the bar soap and body soap, which are often too drying for the skin on your face.

Clean Your Cell Phone Every Day

A person cleans their phone with a cloth.

When did you last clean your cell phone? Never? In 2017, scientists at the University of Arizona reported that cell phones have ten times more bacteria than a toilet seat. If you consider how often you touch your phone, it makes sense.

“With each phone call, we reintroduce these germs onto our skin, clogging our pores and leading to eventual breakouts,” says dermatologist Shereene Idriss. Experts recommend cleaning your phone every day by simply wiping it down. Use a disinfectant wipe or spray some kitchen cleaner onto a paper towel. Don’t forget!

Don’t Sleep On Your Stomach Or Side

A woman lies face-down on a white bed.

Although it may seem harmless to sleep on your stomach, it comes with consequences. Research in the Aesthetic Surgery Journal stated that your sleeping position could make your skin age faster. Participants who slept on their stomachs and sides received more “facial distortion” than those who laid on their backs.

According to clinical psychologist Michael Breus, rubbing your face against a pillow creates friction that ruins your skin’s elasticity. Plus, oils and dirt from your hair remain on the pillow to land on your face the next night. Either switch up your sleeping routine or wash your sheets more often.

Quit Chewing Gum

A woman blows a bubble with gum.
Carlos Osorio/Toronto Star via Getty Images

If you’re a frequent gum-chewer, you may want to heed this message. Frequent chewing can etch premature lines into your lips, says dermatologist Jessica Wu. Specifically, the constant movement can strain the upper lip, creating a “jowly look.”

However, another dermatologist, Mary Lupo, disagrees. In her view, straw-sipping and whistling are more likely to create wrinkles than chewing gum. After all, researchers have evidence for the aging effects of pursing your lips, but they don’t have much for frequent chewing. Most people won’t age overnight after chewing gum.

When Applying Or Removing Makeup, Be Careful!

A woman applies eyeliner.
Binnur Ege Gurun/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
M. Caulfield/WireImage

Applying and cleaning makeup requires a lot of skin movement: tugging your eyes, scrubbing your face, and rubbing all the product off. But while these harsh movements remove makeup, they apply wrinkles, says dermatologist Jessica Weiser.

Epidemiologist Isabelle Bellis advises people to treat their face gently, especially their eyes. Roughly applying eyeliner can break capillaries around the eyes, which means more lines. Handle your face gently; dab the area for a long while if the makeup doesn’t dissolve immediately, and use soft cotton pads.

Don’t Neglect Your Eyes

A woman applies lotion under her eye.
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If you think eye creams are unnecessary, dermatologists disagree. Patricia Farris, a dermatologist at Tulane University, emphasizes that typical face lotions don’t help your eyes. Eye creams, she says, are thicker and contain oils that the delicate skin needs.

Dermatologist Debra Jaliman adds that eye creams provide anti-aging ingredients. The most notable are peptides, caffeine, and nicotinic acid (a form of vitamin B). If you’re neglecting eye care, specifically an eye cream, you’re at a higher risk of having crow’s feet later in life.

Never Spray Perfume On Your Neck

A silhouette sprays perfume on her neck.

Quick: where do you spray perfume? On your neck, right? Well, according to dermatologist Lawrence Jaeger, that’s a recipe for neck wrinkles. Many perfumes contain alcohol, which makes your skin more sensitive to light. The result is more sunburns and pigmentation, says Dr. Jaeger.

Another skincare expert, Abi Cleeve, adds that perfume makes your skin more vulnerable. It prevents the skin from protecting itself against UV damage. Instead of spraying your neck, Cleeve recommends spraying your clothes or wrists. Your inner wrists are less likely to receive sun exposure.

Eat Less Sugar

Close-up shows a man eating a donut.
NurPhoto/NurPhoto via Getty Images
NurPhoto/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Eating a lot of sugar doesn’t just affect your waistline; it also harms your skin. Frederic Brandt, a dermatologist and author of 10 Minutes 10 Years, asserts that sugar dulls and wrinkles your skin. Sugar creates molecules called advanced glycation end products (AGEs) that are bad news.

Over time, AGEs accumulate to reduce the amount of collagen and elastin in your skin. The result? Sagging dark circles and baggy skin, according to endocrinologist Sophie Chan. For the sake of your skin, avoid sugar whenever you can.

Make Time To Exercise

A Jordanian bodybuilder lifts weights while lying on a bench.
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Exercising isn’t just about weight; it can also improve your skin. In 2014, researchers from McMaster University found that regular exercise can reverse skin aging. During the study, participants who exercised had tighter and visibly younger skin after only three workout sessions per week.

Scientists still aren’t sure why workouts remove wrinkles. But these results only came from physical activity, not facial exercises, which can cause wrinkles. Either way, skipping your workout, even a 30-minute session, can make you look older over time.