Top Lifestyle Factors that Affect the Skin

In this hectic, crazy world, we should prioritize our health. However, we often push it aside because of other personal and professional demands. We burn the candle at both ends and don’t carve out enough time for our well-being. Immersed in the busyness, we neglect our health in ways big and small. Moreover, we sometimes even sabotage it by picking up bad habits. Our lifestyle choices affect every aspect of our health — including our skin.

Do you have habits that are harming your skin? Consider the following lifestyle factors that affect the skin profoundly. 

Sun Exposure and Skin Damage

Research has indicated that 80 percent of visible clinical signs of aging are caused by UV exposure. So, while many people strive for a youthful glow by tanning, the result is far less than healthy. Photoaging from years of exposing skin to the sun can surface as wrinkles, fine lines, and changes to pigmentation and texture. 

Minimize time in the sun (especially during peak hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.), avoid tanning beds, and wear sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 even on cloudy days. 

Diet Effects on Skin

The well-known mantra “You are what you eat” is one to take seriously. Processed food products, fast food, and most restaurant take-out meals contain simple sugars, low-quality carbohydrates, saturated fats, and sodium — which are associated with adverse health effects, including inflammation. Adding insult to injury, many people also consume unhealthy amounts of caffeine and alcohol. 

As the largest and outermost organ of the human body, the skin displays signs of aging caused by external (e.g., the sun) and internal (e.g., nutrition) factors. Research studies on the link between diet and skin health vary in their conclusions, but it’s common sense that the skin, like other organs in the body, benefits when we eat nutritious, healthful foods. 

Several to consider:Top 3 Lifestyle Choices that Affect the Skin

  • Foods with omega-3 fatty acids (e.g., salmon, herring, tuna, sardines, chia seeds, flax seeds, walnuts, almonds)
  • Tomatoes (which contain the antioxidant phytochemical lycopene)
  • Vitamin C-rich foods (e.g., citrus fruits, broccoli, strawberries, avocados)
  • Blueberries (for their vitamin A and antioxidants)
  • Zinc-rich foods (e.g., lentils, mushrooms, peas, beans)
  • Green tea (for its anti-inflammatory properties)

Also, get adequate hydration by drinking enough water each day. Recommendations vary depending on a person’s weight, activity level, and other factors, but women generally need approximately 11.5 cups (92 oz.), and men need about 15.5 cups (124 oz.) of fluids daily. 

Top 3 Lifestyle Choices that Affect the SkinStress and Skin

Stress can have harmful effects on the skin. According to Skin, Inc. magazine, “existing skin conditions including psoriasis and rosacea can be aggravated from an increase in stress.” However, the most common visible manifestation of stress is acne. Stress can increase oil production, due to an uptick in cortisol levels, and trigger breakouts.

Increased cortisol can also decrease hyaluronic acid, causing dehydration and dry skin. Also, cortisol and inflammation’s combined effects can break down collagen and elastin and produce wrinkles, fine lines, and other signs of aging. 

Sleep Clean: Top Tips for Healthy Sleep Hygiene Here are some tips for reducing stress’s effects on your skin:

  • Don’t neglect your skin – Take care of your skin, even if you’re tired or pressed for time.
  • Get regular exercise – It’s good for your skin and the rest of your body.
  • Take time for yourself to do something you enjoy – Do this, even if only for a few minutes. Take a walk, read a book or magazine, listen to music, call a friend, etc.
  • Practice stress management techniques – Meditation, breathing exercises, yoga, or visual imagery can help lessen feelings of anxiousness.
  • Get enough sleep – Seven to eight hours each night is the golden standard, but listen to your body.
  • Say no – It’s OK to set limits and boundaries with others to lower your stress.


In addition to increasing the risk of cancer, smoking also speeds up the skin’s aging process. Besides causing wrinkles, smoking also increases the time skin needs to heal and contributes to congestion within the pores.

Why does smoking cause wrinkles? The nicotine in cigarettes causes blood vessels in the outermost layers of the skin to narrow, impairing blood flow. As a result, the skin cannot get sufficient oxygen and nutrients. Also, many of the chemicals in tobacco smoke damage collagen and elastin, so skin begins to sag prematurely.

All good reasons to kick the habit!

The Choice is Yours!

Poor skin tone, sagging skin, lines around the lips, age spots, psoriasis, crow’s feet… all from eating poorly, smoking, sun worshipping, and not managing stress? Thanks, but no thanks! Making some lifestyle changes for better skin may not be easy, but it’s well worth the effort.

Sources and References:

Flament F, Bazin R, Laquieze S, Rubert V, Simonpietri E, Piot B. Effect of the sun on visible clinical signs of aging in Caucasian skin. Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol. 2013 Sep 27;6:221-32. doi: 10.2147/CCID.S44686. PMID: 24101874; PMCID: PMC3790843.

Photoaging: What You Need to Know About the Other Kind of Aging. Skin Cancer Foundation. 2019 Jan 10. Accessed 2023 Apr 18.

Ultraviolet (UV) Radiation and Sun Exposure. EPA.,skin%20cancer%2C%20especially%20for%20children. Accessed 2023 Apr 18.

Gordon Barbara, RDN, LD, Klemm, Sarah, RDN, CD, LDN. How Much Water Do You Need? Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 2022 Jun 23. Accessed 2023 Apr 18.

Tee-Melegrito, Rachel Ann. 16 ways smoking may affect the skin.  MedicalNewsToday. 2022 Nov 18. Accessed 2023 Apr 18.

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