While I am someone who doesn’t think that we should fear getting older (with time, hopefully, comes wisdom and that’s always a good thing), at the same time, I also don’t think that we need to be out here looking older than we are, simply because we’ve been careless with some of our daily habits. Because y’all, as much as we all know that the extra melanin that we’ve got in our skin is a blessing beyond measure, that doesn’t mean that we should take it for granted.
And just how do some of us do that very thing? Check out these 12 random habits that can put a dent in the “Black don’t crack” narrative. It might just surprise you how much you do them and how stopping it can have you looking 5-15 years younger in absolutely no time.
1. Neglecting Your Neck
There is a particular Black celebrity woman who I’ve always found to be attractive. She also ages really well. Matter of fact, I still think she could pass for being about 15 years younger than she actually is — if it wasn’t for her neck. Her neck has a lot of rings around it which makes it look kinda old. She’s actually the reason why I make sure to pay closer-than-ever attention to my own, now that I’m in my 40s.
For me, that consists of applying some rosemary oil to my neck in the morning and at night. It hydrates it really well. That’s what works for me. As for you, just make sure, because the skin around your neck is thinner than the skin that is on your face, that you also moisturize it on a consistent basis and that you even apply sunscreen. Because if there are two spots that can age us, no matter what our face may look like, our neck and hands would definitely have to be it.
2. Constantly Wearing Acrylic Nails
Before the pandemic decided to totally show out, I would see my nail tech like clockwork. Although my nails were mine (no tips), I would get them powder dipped (which is lighter than acrylic and lasts longer) and because I like to switch my styles up, I would see her a couple of times a month (at least). But when the country shut down and I had to take a couple of hours to totally soak that dip off myself and then several weeks to get my nails back healthy and thriving? I’ve been really hesitant about returning to powder (especially now that new variants of COVID are upon us and things could possibly shut down again).
It might be a wise move too because I also read that something that can age our hands are acrylic nails. Why? Because the continuous process of applying, filling, and removing the product from our nails causes our cuticles to thicken over time which causes our hands to look older than they should. If you just read all of that and were like “whatever,” at least consider going on 3-6 month breaks sometimes; a lot of professionals say that’s the best way to keep your nails healthy overall.
3. Drinking Too Much Coffee
One of the most controversial foods (in the sense of the pros being about as much as the cons) is coffee. What I’ll say as it relates to this topic, in particular, is if you’re someone who can’t seem to get through a day without at least three cups, you should probably scale that back a bit. Aside from the fact that coffee can create somewhat of a diuretic effect which can lead to dehydration (which isn’t good for your skin), the caffeine that’s in it also tends to lower your dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA); that’s a hormone that helps to reduce inflammation and keep you looking younger. You know what that means, right? Even if you don’t do coffee but you drink anything that’s highly caffeinated, it’s probably working against you rather than for you on the anti-aging tip.
4. Eating Inflammatory Foods
Y’all probably aren’t going to like this very much but — sugar, refined carbs, dairy, trans fat, vegetable oil, processed meat, and (excessive) alcohol. Wanna know what these things have in common? They all have the ability to trigger inflammation in your system. The problem with that, when it comes to premature aging, is not only can that accelerate the aging process but sugary stuff can break down the collagen and elastin in your system too (which is never good). Life is too short to not enjoy some “fun stuff” every once in a while. Still, for the sake of your Black not cracking, always remember to consume inflammatory-prone foods in extreme moderation.
5. Always Sipping from a Straw
I like straws; especially since I adore some lip color and straws help to keep it from smudging or getting onto my teeth. Plus, straws can keep sugary drinks from getting too much on my teeth, not to mention the fact that I feel a lot better about drinking from cups and glasses in restaurants when I have a straw in hand. Yet as with most things in life, there are a couple of cons to them. For one thing, most are made out of plastic which definitely isn’t good for the environment. Also, the constant puckering that we have to do to suck through a straw can actually cause fine lines and wrinkles — not immediately but eventually. I guess the bottom line here would be to use them in moderation too. Oh, and to thoroughly moisturize that space in between your nose and lips. Sometimes it gets neglected more than it should too.
6. Constantly Wearing Eye Make-Up
I wasn’t allowed to wear make-up while growing up. Matter of fact, I don’t think it was until my junior year of high school that I got to put on something that was more than tinted lip gloss. In hindsight, I’m grateful because, although my gene pool is pretty dope when it comes to aging well, I know that when people tell me that I don’t look my age, going without make-up (most of the time) has been a huge part of my saving grace (check out “8 Solid Reasons To Go Make-Up Free At Least Once A Week”).
This point was further affirmed when I read that another thing that can age a person is constantly wearing eye make-up and/or not removing it properly. The main reason why is because the thinnest skin on our face and body, period, is our eyelids. So, constantly manipulating that space wears it down and ultimately ages us. That’s why it’s a good idea to sometimes rock a “wake-up face”. And when you do wear eye stuff that you apply an emulsifier (something that has water in it that allows water and oil to easily mix) like Aquaphor to remove your eyeshadow, eyeliner, and mascara, so that your delicate skin is handled with some much-needed TLC.
7. Not Wearing Sunglasses
I recently went to the eye doctor. While we were discussing the fact that my mild astigmatism was healing (I had no idea it could do that), I got mildly reprimanded for not wearing sunglasses more often. I had no idea that it reduces my chances of getting cancer and cataracts (I just saw them as a way to make squinting in the sun less of an occurrence, to be honest). As a bonus, sunglasses also reduce fine lines and, since crow’s feet can definitely age a person, you can best believe I’ll be picking up a pair sooner than later.
8. Tight Ass Protective Styles
I’ll be the first to say that when I get my hair braided if there’s something that I want my stylist to do, it is to make sure that they get as much of my edges into those braids as possible. Between my braider being really good and my not getting braids back-to-back all of the time, my edges have survived my pseudo vanity. I do know others who can’t say the same because whether it’s their braids, twists, wigs, weaves, or high ponytails, the constant stress and strain that their hairline has had to endure have resulted in very thin or flat-out bald edges that have added a few years onto them.
A flawless hairstyle is top-tier. I get it. At the same time, it’s a little counterproductive to get a protective style that doesn’t protect ALL of your hair…right? By the way, if you want to take extra special care of your edges and nape right through here, check out “7 Tips For Getting The Edges And Nape Of Your Neck To Grow Faster."
9. Doing THE MOST with Your Face
I’d be surprised if you didn’t have at least one relative who, if they saw you cross your eyes when you were a kid, told you to stop because they could end up getting stuck that way. Hmph. Somebody needed to alert more of us about this when it comes to those totally over-the-top facial expressions that a lot of us put on display.
Constantly doing things like turning up your lips or furrowing your brows can also cause fine lines to set in. Yeah, I know a lot of us think that we’re doing nothing more than being “expressive” but exaggerating our facial expressions can age us faster than we want to. Don’t say that I didn’t warn you, chile.
10. Sleeping on a Cheap Pillowcase
I’ll tell you what — the older I get, the more I am learning to respect my bedding more. Take pillowcases. While a lot of us know that a satin one can be good for our hair (because it helps to keep moisture in our locks), were you aware of the fact that a silk one can help to reduce wrinkles? Sometimes, it might seem like it’s a wise move, financially, to go with cheaper sheets but when you’re rolling around for 6-8 hours a night on a set of rough pillowcases, that can start to put tiny marks on your face that can result in premature wrinkles or even sagging. So, if you haven’t been investing some good money into your bedding, this is a solid reason why you should.
11. Not Having Enough GOOD Sex
I write about sex, basically all of the time. That’s why I know that I can easily provide you with literally dozens of reasons why having as much sex as possible is beneficial. Matter of fact, in the article “10 Irrefutable Reasons To Have An Orgasm A Day,” one of the things that I touch on is the fact that orgasms can make you look younger. The long-short of it is, orgasms help to decrease stress and elevate estrogen levels — both are great because stress triggers premature aging and estrogen helps to collagen and elastin production.
Long sessions can cause you to sweat which removes toxins and bonding with your partner increases oxytocin which is also stress’s enemy. Just make sure that it’s good sex because the more that it goes down, the more often you’ll want to “engage” and the better off your skin will be because of it.
12. Not Having a Pamper Day (At Least Twice a Month)
At the turn of every birthday, something that I commit to, more and more, is refusing to let any person, place, thing, or idea stress me out. For what? Stress is directly attributed to things like obesity, diabetes, headaches, depression, and heart disease (which continues to be the #1 killer among Black women). If you add to that the fact that accelerated levels of cortisol (the stress hormone in our system) can also break down collagen and elastin at an accelerated rate…why wouldn’t you see doing things like having a pamper day as a necessity in your life?
Massages. Mani/pedis. Facials. Take a bubble bath. Unplug from social media. Doing things that make you feel good and help you to relax is good for your mind, body, and spirit and can help to keep you looking younger for a longer period of time. That’s why you should definitely pamper yourself, at least a couple of times a month. You will adore it and your skin will adore it even more!
Featured image by Getty Images