How can we as a society tolerate you if you have the temerity to conduct your life in such a way that the appearance of your corporeal being actually corresponds with the number of years you've existed on earth? It's as if no one told you that the eight things you're doing nearly every day to feel better are inadvertently pressing "fast-forward" on your life. And by life I mean face. And hands. And body. And face. So please, put down the flatbread and back away from the heavy weights, because no one can achieve their best self if that self includes actually looking as if you've lived.
Over at Oprah.com, it's a new year, which means a new start. That means a new you. Which means out with the old — literally, please stop looking old. So as you clean house to look for ways to become more compassionate toward yourself, less angry, or especially, more self-accepting, you should also be making sure that none of the other stuff you're doing to your body/face is going to counterbalance that work. You can't be a good person if you also look old or tired.
Old is bad. No one wants to look old because looking old means you're going to die soon. It's not cool to be old or seem old. It's not even possible to look good while also old because of physics. So it only follows that we should always hang on to every possible sign of looking young on the outside no matter what is going on on the inside. That's the whole point of being alive and frankly, I'm shocked anyone has to tell you this at your advanced age.
That's why we're so lucky to have this helpful guide to "8 Surprising Habits That Make You Look Older," because it lets you know that you're great just as you are, if you could drop these haggy habits that make you look like an old hag. May as well change your name to Hags McGee.
1. Your Book-Club-Night Snacks
I guess it's cool that you're reading and talking about it, but you're fucking it up by eating while doing so (flatbreads, crackers, cookies). And what's worse, you're eating the two things guaranteed to make you look like Angela Lansbury faster than you can say "more mini muffins" — refined carbs + sugar. Says Oprah.com:
Why it's making you look older: Consuming refined carbohydrates and sugar results in a rapid spike in blood sugar, explains Whitney Bowe, MD, clinical assistant professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York. The sugar molecules travel through the blood to all the cells in our body, linking up with fats and proteins. When that sugar links to collagen (the protein that gives skin its elasticity) without the presence of an enzyme, a process called glycation occurs, Bowe explains. The resulting collagen-sugar combo is stiffer, and that can lead to wrinkles and compromised circulation to the skin.
Not so awesome to be so well-read if you look like the Crypt Keeper, now is it? Looks like someone needs to try a little nuts + Nicholas Sparks or edamame + Edith Wharton to get closer to your best, less haggy, self.
2. Your Workout
You're to be commended for actually working out and lifting heavy weights to build muscle mass and stuff, because at your age, hoo-boy. Of course what you haven't figured out from that fancy book club is that all that "wincing, squinting, groaning and straining your facial muscles while lifting weights" is murder on your ability to look so much as a day younger than you actually are or that you spend your time doing anything other than passing kidney stones. Says Oprah.com:
Why it's making you look older: You know that squinting can cause wrinkles, and that's why you invested in those broad-spectrum UV sunglasses. But bright sunlight isn't the only thing that makes you squint. Bowe says straining your facial muscles while doing exercise can have the same affect.
Please try to strain your body without looking as if you are straining your body. Do this by actually practicing how you look in the mirror while working out so that you maintain a more pleasant expression that does not lead to the slightest hint of aging. Or, try distracting yourself by focusing on your breathing, so you can at least just look like an idiot instead of old. Really, who wants to have a super fit body paired with a frowning, haggy face? Hags McGee with killer biceps made out of flatbread, that's who.
3. Your Sleek, Sexy Ponytail or Chignon
This one's pretty sad, because you think you look so elegant "wearing your hair like a Robert Palmer backup singer" but you don't even realize you're inadvertently causing your scalp to betray you, robbing you of your youthful hairline. Says Oprah.com:
Why it's making you look older: Repeated tugging on the root of the hair can lead to traction alopecia, or a receding hairline, Bowe says.
Yikes. While seeking out your best self with the flatbreads, fit body, and haggy face, one should probably avoid inadvertently copping Jack LaLanne's aesthetic, amirite? The good news? This one is fixable if you cease doing a tight ponytail, but instead, "get it off your face with a messy off-duty-model bun." Ah yes, for a sec I wasn't sure who I should be most trying to look like while not aging, but an off-duty model seems like a great example to cite from a magazine aimed at middle-aged women. Thx.
Your Healthy-Eating Resolution
This one's almost like a cruel joke, because you've been trying all this time to eat right, but now that you are, you look like you're a Titanic survivor because you actually thought it was a good idea to eat less fat. Says Oprah.com:
Why it's making you look older: Healthy fats, like omega-3 fatty acids, calm inflammation throughout the body, says Bowe, making your skin less likely to break out in acne, rosacea and other conditions that result in redness. Omega-3s also prevent the breakdown of plumping collagen and elastin fibers in the skin.
I honestly don't know how anyone could stand to even look at someone who works out but has rosacea. Does anyone actually think being in shape cancels out any skin problems? Do us all a favor, put down the flatbreads, the weights, the ponytails, and the attitude and introduce more salmon and avocados into your diet like the rest of us.
Your Beauty Regimen
Ha, "beauty regimen." More like senior citizen regimen! You're on more supplements than an elderly hypochondriac! Says Oprah.com:
Why it's making you look older: While oral supplements like vitamin E and CoQ10 may have antiaging benefits, it's possible to have too much of a good thing. Taking several antiaging beauty products at the same time can make the skin more delicate and vulnerable to bruising, says Melanie Grossman, MD, a clinical dermatologist based in Manhattan. Patients will come in and say that they're worried their skin is becoming more fragile with age, says Grossman, but it's really due to their overzealous efforts to keep their skin looking young.
That's right. You thought you were applying the fountain of youth, but it turns out your skin is about as water-rich as the California aqueducts. Buzzer sound! There's literally nothing you can do without a doctor's help, so, do that.
Your Late-Afternoon Tic
Maybe this happens because you're so old you can't think straight, but get this: In the afternoon, when you're tired, you've been actually RUBBING YOUR EYES. Like, who does that? Says Oprah.com:
Why it's making you look older: Not only can aggressive rubbing break your eyelashes and cause them to fall out, but it can also cause trauma to the under-eye area, turning the skin red and making you look extra-fatigued, Grossman says. It will go away, but not until you're able to keep your hands off your eyes.
Never touch your face, not even once, unless you're prepared to watch it wither in front of your cataract-afflicted eyes and evaporate into a weathered pile of dust.
Your Get-Up-and-Go Breakfast
More like lay-down-and-die breakfast. Those smoothies you thought were so good because they have mango in them, that thing you always read you should eat more of for the anti-aging properties they possess?! Dun dun DUN! Says Oprah.com:
Why it's making you look older: Even though fructose is a natural sugar, it can still lead to the glycation process (again!), which makes your skin look weary.
I never take people with weary skin seriously because it makes me feel weird to be around them? Like they've been around too long and should go to sleep or just die already or something? I just can't be friends with Weary Haggies, no matter how fit or high the ponytail.
Your Anti-Aging Skin Regime
Um, sorry to drop this on you, but your face looks good and everything, but I can tell you're old still because your of your sad, old, shaky hands. Says Oprah.com:
Why it's making you look older: Although women have finally taken the sunscreen message to heart, far too many of us are still neglecting our hands, Bowe says (and she's not the only dermatologist who's shared this with us). Hands are already susceptible to indignities of aging, like a loss of fat that makes veins more prominent, and UV rays add insult to injury in the form of sunspots and wrinkles.
Here's the deal, UVA rays are like a Peeping Tom. They can get through ANY BARRIERS, including glass. So unless you want to be Haggy Old Hands Weary Face McFlatbread McGee forever, dose the hands, mate. Also never touch anything in front of me with an extended hand if it's old, because it will look like it just lifted itself out of a coffin, which is even creepier because old hands are not strong. Shudder.
Image by Sam Woolley, photos via Getty.