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How a modern lifestyle is ageing you…

April 26, 2017

Modern lifestyles are not just playing havoc with our stress levels, our skin is taking a battering too, in some cases giving us signs of premature ageing; fine lines and wrinkles, patchy complexions and red or dry patches. 

The trend for FOMO (fear of missing out) has set many of us on a treadmill set at a speed we simply can’t maintain. Too many of us drink too much coffee, and alcohol, rush to our jobs in busy towns and cities, try to maintain a buzzing social life while posting pics of our exploits on social media.

How many of these bad habits have you fallen into? And do you realise the effect any one of them can have on your skin

Sleep deprivation

I’m afraid there’s no way round this, sleep deprivation ages our skin.

Most of us will have experienced sallow skin and puffy eyes after a few nights of missed sleep. But a repetitive pattern of lack of sleep leads to even more lacklustre skin, fine lines, and dark circles under the eyes.

If we don’t get enough sleep, our bodies release more of the stress hormone, cortisol. Too much cortisol in our systems can break down skin collagen, the protein that keeps skin smooth and elastic.

Poor sleeping habits also cause our bodies to release too little human growth hormone. For youngsters, this hormone promotes healthy growth. As we age, it helps increase muscle mass, thicken skin, and strengthen bones. Basically sleep is vital for our tissues to repair.

Fewer than seven or eight hours’ sleep is considered sleep deprivation.


While scientists are still investigating how much damage our Smartphones are causing our skin, some have already stated that radiation from mobile phones could trigger skin allergies.

They claim to have found evidence that microwaves emitted by mobile handsets can worsen allergic reactions to dust mites and pollen.

Researchers believe that mobile radiation can ‘excite’ antigens – substances which cause allergies – in the bloodstreams of susceptible people.

Dr Hajime Kimata from Unitika Hospital, Kyoto, carried out research on 52 people with a history of eczema and dermatitis. Half were exposed to mobile phone radiation for an hour, while the others were not.

Dr Kimata, whose findings are published in the medical journal International Archives of Allergy and Immunology, said: “When we did blood tests we found that the mobile phones had raised the levels of certain chemicals in the blood which provoke allergic reactions such as eczema, hay fever and asthma.”

Mobile use also appears to worsen skin weals induced by exposure to house dust mites or pollen from cedar trees in the susceptible patients, Dr Kimata reported.

Binge watching TV

Bad news for those of us who enjoy nothing more than a binge on a box set.

Dr Justine Hextall, a leading dermatologist, told the Daily Mail:  “There seems to be emerging evidence that light from cell phones and computer screens, which is referred to as high energy visible (HEV) light, can in fact penetrate into the deeper levels of the skin.”

She warns that this can result in free radical damage, which can lead to wrinkles and sunspots and what Dr. Hextall refers to as “Netflix face,” complete with fine lines and sagging skin.

She added that if you’re using your phone or laptop outside, you could potentially be exposed to an extra dose of UVA and UVB light as a result of your screen reflecting it onto your face.

“This increased concentration of UV exposure along with the exposure to HEV light is prompting experts to strongly recommend covering up skin and wearing a broad-spectrum sunscreen whilst using them outside,” says Dr. Hextall.

So if you’re taking your laptop or phone with you outdoors make sure you apply a sun protection of at least SPF 30, and reapply it every two hours.

Stress at work/home

It’s long been established that getting stressed can cause a break out of spots. This is because in periods of stress our bodies produce cortisol and other hormones, which then tells our sebaceous glands to produce more oil. Oily skin is more prone to acne and other skin problems.

Stress can also worsen psoriasis, rosacea, and eczema. Stress can also cause hives and other types of skin rashes.

When we are stressed we are more likely to have poor eating habits and just generally not care for our skin as much as we would normally for example by not cleansing before bed, not moisturising or applying sufficient sunscreen.

Caffeine, bad diet, alcohol

The main problem that caffeine causes for our skin is dehydration. In addition to the dehydrating effects that tannin has on our skin, the caffeine in coffee, when taken in high amounts, also acts as a diuretic, which further dehydrates our bodies.

“What you eat affects your skin—for better or worse,” says Ariel Ostad, MD, fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology. While a few indulgences won’t age you overnight, a continuously poor diet can accelerate the aging process of your skin (and teeth) over time.”

Drinkware tells us that alcohol also generally dehydrates our bodies, and in particular the skin – our body’s largest organ. Drinking too much is also thought to deprive the skin of vital vitamins and nutrients.

Over time, drinking heavily can have other, more permanent, detrimental effects on our skin. Rosacea, a skin disorder that starts with a tendency to blush and flush easily and can eventually lead to facial disfigurement, is linked to alcohol. Alcohol can also cause our faces to look bloated and puffy.

And if we’ve had too much to drink we are also less likely to take our make-up off making us more prone to spots too.


If you work in a big town or city, basically any highly polluted area, then you are also doing damage to your skin on a daily basis. Multiple studies have shown that irritants in the air can age you in the form of hyperpigmentation—also known as a dark spot—and inflammation, which can amount to redness, irritation, and fine lines.

Joshua Zeichner, Director of Cosmetic and Clinical Research at the Department of Dermatology at Mount Sinai Medical Center, New York says: “Basically, particulate matter from smog and pollution can deposit on the skin, causing free radical damage.”

The free radical theory of ageing (FRTA) states that organisms age because cells accumulate free radical damage over time.

Prolonged or excessive exposure to city pollution therefore ages our skin.

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