10 Foods That Can Make You Look Older

Updated: Sep. 28, 2018

Look younger by avoiding these foods whenever possible.

Close-up bunch of chocolate bars isolated over the white background
Dan Kosmayer/Shutterstock

Candy bars

Surprise, surprise: Tossing back candy isn’t great for the aging process. To understand how sugar can lead to older-looking skin, it’s important to consider the two proteins that keep skin looking fresh and youthful: collagen and elastin. Anything that interferes with these proteins is going to have a negative effect—and sugar is one of their biggest enemies. As sugar is digested, it leaves behind debris known as advanced glycation end products, or AGEs. Over time, these AGEs build up and attach themselves to collagen, which can lead to wrinkles and sagging, writes Ana Reisdorf, MS, RD, on thelist.com. Keeping those AGEs in check is key to healthy, youthful skin. And the first step is cutting the sugar. 

burnt, charred chicken on a barbecue

Charred meat

Ever look at the black char on your barbequed steak and wonder how that could possibly be healthy? Turns out, it’s not. Charred meat often contains pro-inflammatory hydrocarbons. That’s no good since inflammation can break down your skin’s precious collagen. Scrape it off with your fork instead. Here are the 9 secrets dermatologists know about looking younger.

Top view of two beer bottles and a wine on wooden table


Obviously, no one looks their best the morning after too many drinks. But the effects of alcohol on your liver are even more harmful. “When your liver is functioning well, toxins that could potentially affect the skin are expelled naturally through your body,” Ariel Ostad, MD, told Health. “But if toxins build up in your liver, and aren’t broken down properly, your skin can develop a variety of issues, like acne, sallowness, and wrinkles.”

seamless bread texture
Kutlayev Dmitry/Shutterstock

Processed carbs

As you’ve heard again and again, carbohydrates are digested into pure sugar. And because of that, they boost AGEs and weaken the integrity of your skin’s collagen and elastin. Still, that doesn’t mean all carbs have to go. Whole grains, fruits, and vegetables can stay. It’s the white bread, pastries, and breakfast cereals that get the ax. These are the 15 signs your body is aging faster than you are.

Closeup of white wine

White wine

While all of the foods thus far have had to do with the skin, white wine can age you in a different way: by damaging your teeth. “Alcohol dries out your mouth. It decreases saliva, which is what washes away bad bacteria, leading to cavities and staining,” Brian Kantor, D.D.S., a dentist in New York City, told Women’s Health. And while you might think the dark color of red wine would lead to worse staining, Kantor says it’s the opposite. “The acid in white wine causes your enamel to become more porous so that later, you accumulate more stains.” Save your teeth by swishing a bit of water around your mouth after each glass.

block of fresh butter on white background - close up


This popular alternative to butter could be damaging your skin. One 2001 study published in the Journal of The American College of Nutrition found that people who regularly used margarine had more wrinkles than people who didn’t. The correlation likely exists because the specific type of fat in margarine can increase inflammation. Learn the 7 makeup mistakes that age your face.

Potato chips in the frank bag. Potatoes snake in bag is a junk food.
Bus Stocker/Shutterstock

Salty foods

Anything with a high amount of sodium—think cured meats, soups, and potato chips—is going to dry out your skin. “Excess salt in the body draws more fluid out of the cells to help neutralize the salt and draw it out of the body,” Beth Warren, RD, told Bustle. “As a result, your skin gets drier because of the lack of fluid.” That could lead to a wrinkled look—the opposite of fresh, dewy skin. 

Mason jar glass of lemon lemonade with lemons and straw on table and wooden background. Cold summer beredge. Mojito drink. Lemon water
Natali Samorod/Shutterstock


We already know that sugar can deplete collagen and acidic foods can ruin your teeth’s enamel. That means lemonade is a double whammy: This sugary, acidic drink can age both your skin and your smile. These 50 daily habits can make you look younger.

Subbotina Anna/Shutterstock


You might rely on your morning cup of Joe to wake you up, but it’s important to have a glass of water too. Caffeine can dehydrate skin, which accentuates the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines. Adding cream and sugar could also damage the formation of collagen.

Pruszcz Gdanski, Poland - April 7, 2018: Close-up for Tabasco logo on bottle. Tabasco sauce is hot sauce made from tabasco peppers, vinegar and salt.

Anything super spicy

As you get older, you might notice your rosacea becoming more easily aggravated. If that’s the case, tread carefully with spicy foods. “Rosacea is the skin condition that’s most sensitive to food,” Ava Shamban, an assistant clinical professor of dermatology at UCLA, told Allure. “And spicy foods trigger inflammation and flushing.” Next up, check out our master list of the 50 things that are making you look older.