These 2 Bad Habits Can Make Your Face Look Way Older, Study Says

Updated: Jun. 28, 2022

Hard living can lead to hard looks, according to new research. Are you at risk? Here's what you need to know.

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The older we get, the more we obsess over looking younger. While genes are the main indicator of how well (or poorly) you’ll age, there are ways to actively fight the visible signs of aging, like adopting these everyday habits that can make you look way younger. But if you happen to indulge in two less-than-healthy habits, your face will age much faster, according to a recent study published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health.

Danish researchers tapped data from the Copenhagen City Heart Study to track visible aging signs of 11,500 adults for 11.5 years. The study participants were periodically queried about how much they drank and smoked as part of a general review of their lifestyle habits. Researchers also examined their ears, eyes, and hairlines.

The results revealed that, yes, hard living equals fast aging: Women who downed 28 or more drinks a week were 33 percent more likely to develop discoloration in the eyes linked to aging, compared to women who had less than seven drinks a week. For men, the risk jumped to 35 percent when they had 35 or more drinks a week. Smoking a pack of cigarettes a day for more than 15 years raised the likelihood that a woman’s eyes would betray signs of aging by 41 percent, compared to a non-smoker; the risk jumped 12 percent for male smokers.

“This is the first prospective study to show that alcohol and smoking are associated with the development of visible age-related signs and thus generally looking older than one’s actual age,” the researchers told Science Daily. “This may reflect that heavy drinking and smoking increases general aging of the body.” If you need to cut back on your drinking habits, read these 17 tips for drinking less alcohol.

Because the study only observed the changes, drawing firm and fast conclusions isn’t possible, note the study authors. For example, the researchers couldn’t rule out the impact of stress on the participants.

There is some good news though. Light to moderate drinkers didn’t have any greater visible aging signs than non-drinkers, so drinking in moderation gets a pass. Not a drinker or a smoker? You could still be aging your face with these makeup mistakes that make you look older.