16 Habits That Make You Seem Older Than You Are

There’s nothing wrong with getting older — in fact, it’s a gift that not everyone is lucky enough to experience. That being said, you don’t want to age yourself prematurely, which is exactly what you’re doing if you’re guilty of any of these habits. If you find yourself doing any of the following on a regular basis, it’s time to switch things up!

1. You skimp on the sleep.

Pulling all-nighters and skimping on those precious Zs? Your face will rat you out. Dark circles, puffy eyes, and a generally blah complexion are dead giveaways that you’re not making sleep a priority, Cleveland Clinic explains. Aim for those 7-8 hours a night, and your skin (and energy levels) will thank you. Plus, a good night’s sleep helps regulate hormones, which can also impact the appearance of your skin.

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2. You’re addicted to sugar.

Cookies, candy, and soda all taste awesome, but they’re seriously bad news for your skin. Sugar messes with collagen, that stuff that keeps your skin looking plump and youthful (sorry, but science proves it!). Too much of the sweet stuff leads to wrinkles, sagging, and dullness. Yikes! It’s not just about avoiding sweets, either; watch out for hidden sugars in processed foods and drinks because they can sneakily add up.

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3. You’re always stressed to the max.

Stress is like a toxic potion for your looks. Frown lines, breakouts, dull skin – it’s not a cute combo. Find healthy ways to manage those stress levels: yoga, meditation, a good venting session with a friend – whatever works for you. Plus, chronic stress can lead to inflammation, which is linked to premature aging throughout the body.

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4. You’re permanently glued to your phone.

Being constantly hunched over your phone leads to something called “tech neck” – those not-so-attractive wrinkles on your neck. Plus, squinting at that tiny screen strains your eyes, and that eye strain equals crow’s feet. Take screen breaks, hold your phone up higher, and consider getting some blue-light-blocking glasses to protect those peepers.

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5. You think sunscreen is just for the beach.

Nope, sunscreen is your BFF every single day, even when it’s cloudy. Sun damage is the number one cause of premature aging. Slap on that SPF and protect that gorgeous face of yours! Look for broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 30 for daily protection.

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6. You crash diet all the time.

Yo-yo dieting wreaks havoc on your body. Those drastic weight fluctuations mess with elasticity, leaving you with loose, saggy skin. Aim for a healthy, balanced diet for a youthful glow that lasts. Plus, restrictive diets can deprive your body of important nutrients needed for healthy skin and hair.

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7. You’re basically a grumpy cat personified.

young man hoodie mustache

Everyone has bad days, but constantly complaining and focusing on the negative can be draining for everyone around you. Try to see the positive side, or at least keep the negativity to a minimum. A more optimistic outlook makes you a much more pleasant person to be around! Plus, studies show that a positive mindset is linked to a longer lifespan and better overall health, so it’s a win-win.

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8. You stay indoors 24/7.

A little sunshine does wonders for your mood and your skin (as long as you wear sunscreen!). Vitamin D is important for healthy skin, and let’s be honest, a bit of a tan always makes you look glowy and awesome. Just don’t overdo it, obviously. Spending some time outdoors in nature can also boost your mood and reduce stress, making you look and feel years younger.

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9. You let your skincare routine slide.

Cleansing, moisturizing, all that good stuff? It’s not just hype. A consistent skincare routine is essential for keeping your skin looking its best. Find some products that work for you and stick with them, your future self will be grateful. Don’t forget to exfoliate a couple of times a week to get rid of dead skin cells and reveal a brighter complexion.

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10. You smoke.

We all know smoking is bad for your health, but did you know it seriously messes with your skin too? Wrinkles, dullness, uneven skin tone – it’s a recipe for looking way older than you are. If you smoke, ditching the habit is one of the best things you can do for your looks (and your overall health)! Plus, smoking affects your oral health as well, leading to stained teeth and premature gum recession – not a good look.

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11. You drink alcohol like it’s water.

close-up of man drinking beer

Alcohol dehydrates you, and dehydrated skin looks dull, saggy, and way older. Plus, booze can mess with your sleep, giving you those tell-tale dark circles. Enjoy a glass of wine here and there, but don’t overdo it. Staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water throughout the day is crucial for keeping your skin looking its best.

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12. You never, ever exercise.

Exercise boosts circulation, delivers oxygen to your skin, and makes you sweat out toxins. Basically, it gives you a natural, youthful glow from the inside out. Find an activity you actually enjoy, and your skin will seriously thank you. Even a brisk walk a few times a week can make a huge difference in your skin’s appearance and your overall well-being.

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13. You try every fad diet under the sun.

Fad diets might promise quick results, but they usually do more harm than good. Not only can they mess with your metabolism, but they deprive your body of the nutrients it needs for healthy skin. Focus on eating a balanced diet full of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains – your skin will love you for it.

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14. You’re still wearing the same makeup you did in high school.

Makeup trends change, and the heavy eyeliner and frosty lipstick that looked awesome at 16? Not so much now. Update your makeup bag with softer, more natural tones to avoid that dated look. And don’t forget about your eyebrows! Defined eyebrows can give your face an instant lift.

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15. You’ve permanently ditched your sense of adventure.

Getting stuck in a rut can make you seem way older than your years. When you lose that spark and curiosity, it shows. Try new things, step out of your comfort zone – it keeps you young at heart, and that youthful energy is super attractive. It doesn’t have to be anything major – signing up for a dance class, trying a new food, or even exploring a new part of your town can add some fun and excitement to your life.

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16. You never smile.

Smiles are free and have the power to instantly make you look younger and more vibrant. Don’t be afraid to flash those pearly whites! A genuine smile can light up a room and take years off your appearance. Plus, smiling releases endorphins, those feel-good hormones that boost your mood and reduce stress – a win-win for your looks and well-being!

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Phoebe Mertens is a writer, speaker, and strategist who has helped dozens of female-founded and led companies reach success in areas such a finance, tech, science, and fashion. Her keen eye for detail and her innovative approach to modern womanhood makes her one of the most sought-out in her industry, and there's nothing she loves more than to see these companies shine.

With an MBA from NYU's Stern School of Business and features in Forbes and Fast Company she Phoebe has proven she knows her stuff. While she doesn't use social media, she does have a private Instagram just to look at pictures of cats.