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How does your lifestyle impact the physical signs of aging on your face?

Collagen is the protein which keeps our skin looking young and firm. As we age, our collagen levels deplete, leaving our skin at the mercy of sagging and wrinkles. Years of sun exposure can cause hyper-pigmented spots, commonly known as sun spots or liver spots, another form of premature aging.

Aging is an unavoidable part of life, but surgical and non-surgical procedures offered here at the Cadogan Clinic can help you to turn the clock back and maintain a youthful appearance for longer. 

But there are certain lifestyle factors which can cause premature aging. By making certain lifestyle changes, you can help to slow down the aging process.

Smoking and premature aging

Everyone knows that smoking is bad for your health in so many ways, but what does smoking do to your skin?

Tobacco smoke contains more than 4,000 chemicals, which contribute to the destruction of collagen and elastin in the skin. This loss of collagen means a smoker’s skin will sag and develop deep set wrinkles more quickly than a non-smoker.

People who smoke develop deep wrinkles around the mouth because of what is sometimes referred to as ‘smokers’ pucker’. Crows feet, wrinkles that form around the corners of the eyes, develop earlier and are often more deep set in people who smoke. Squinting to keep smoke from going into the eyes can contribute to the appearance of crows feet. More than one study has found that smokers who quit noticed that their skin looked more youthful after stubbing out the habit.

Collagen depletion caused by smoking doesn’t just affect the skin on the face. It can also contribute to sagging inner arms and breasts. 

We would always recommend quitting smoking in order to improve overall health and prevent serious illnesses from developing, including cancer, heart disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Alcohol and premature aging

The link between the consumption of alcohol and skin aging is well documented. Alcohol is a diuretic, a substance which helps to remove water from the body. If you do not drink enough water alongside alcohol, you will become dehydrated, which can highlight wrinkles and fine lines. Alcohol consumption also leads to a loss of nutrients and Vitamin A, both of which can have an impact on the appearance of wrinkles. Vitamin A is important for the production of collagen, which helps the skin to maintain its youthful elasticity.

Alcohol causes inflammation of the skin, which gives it a red ‘flushed’ appearance. After drinking for a long period of time, this red colour becomes more noticeable and contributes to premature aging. We would recommend cutting your alcohol consumption to the recommended 14 units a week or less to avoid alcohol-related premature aging.

Nutrition and premature aging

The food we eat can have a huge effect on the visible signs of aging.  Advanced glycation end products (AGEs), which form when protein or fat combine with sugar, are one of the leading causes of premature aging.  AGEs can be found in a number of foods, including white bread and French fries. Not only is sugar one of the major contributors of the formation of AGEs, it is also responsible for other skin complaints, such as acne.

Foods fried in oil can cause damage to the skin, weakening its natural elasticity, so it is worth cutting down or eliminating these from your diet in a bid to maintain healthy, youthful-looking skin. And meats commonly found in a Full English Breakfast include sausages and bacon, which are both high in saturated fats, sodium and sulfite, all of which deplete the body of collagen and dehydrate the skin. Eating too much salt and salty food can draw water out from the skin, leading to dehydration, increasing the likelihood of wrinkles.

By making improvements to your diet, your skin will look healthier and you will be at less of a risk of premature aging. Swap salty, fatty meats for leaner options, such as chicken and turkey, which are both abundant in protein and amino acids, which help collagen to form.

Superfoods such as red bell peppers and blueberries will help to prevent collagen loss, so make sure such foods are present in your diet. And don’t forget that an improved diet means improved health overall, so we would highly recommend making changes.

Hydration and premature aging

Dehydration is the enemy of healthy skin. A lack of water can cause skin to appear dull, itchy and dry. It can lead to sunken eyes, darker circles under the eyes and highlight the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. 

Cutting your alcohol intake and upping your fluid intake to six to eight glasses a day will reverse dehydration. Water, lower fat milk and sugar-free drinks, including tea and coffee, all count towards this total. Fruit and vegetables that contain a lot of water, such as cucumber, watermelon and apples, will also help to keep you hydrated. It is also worth investing in good-quality, moisture-retaining skincare.

Dehydrated skin is different from dry skin, which can look rough and cracked.

Keeping hydrated is also important to help regulate body temperature, flush out waste products, protect organs and tissue and keep joints lubricated and healthy.


Research carried out in 2016 highlighted the link between air pollution and premature aging of the skin.

The toxic fumes from car exhausts can speed up the depletion of collagen, meaning wrinkles appear earlier. The study also discovered that traffic pollution can be responsible for a host of other skin problems, including the early appearance of age spots and triggering or exacerbating eczema, hives and rosacea.

As a result, a number of major beauty brands have developed, or are in the process of developing, products with the sole aim of protecting the skin against air pollution, such as barrier creams and sonic face cleansing brushes.

However experts say that a high-quality mineral make-up can provide a good barrier and give the skin a degree of protection from traffic fumes, helping to curtail pollution-related premature aging.

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