No-one has ever opened their gratitude journal and written “I’m so grateful I have aged prematurely and look older than I am”. True story.

So – it’s probably fair to assume premature ageing is something best avoided. It’s easier than you think. Here are the top ten causes and some strategies to avoid them.

1) CAUSE: Genetics

STRATEGY: Ok, so this one is as hard as you think. Given it’s probably too late to change your genes (if you’re reading this, I’m assuming you’re not a zygote), acceptance plays a part here as people age at radically different rates. A recent study in New Zealand of one thousand 38 year olds confirmed you can have biological age that doesn’t match the candles on your cake. One of the 38 year olds had the same biological markers on organ function and cardiovascular health as a 28 year old; another had those of a 61 year old. The people with old bodies had old-looking faces too. Whatever hand you’re dealt, paying attention to following advice will help.

2) CAUSE: Smoking


3) CAUSE: Sun Exposure

STRATEGY: Because the sun is tougher on fair complexions, pale and interesting types often work out from a very young age to stay well away. Conversely,  it can be those who are less prone to burning who end up with the most sun damage. Complacency is the enemy here. Sun damage increases fine lines and wrinkles, discolouration, sun spots, changes in texture. And cancer. It causes cancer. Yes – the suns rays feel magnificent and we need them for Vitamin D and general well being but soak it up before 10am and after 4pm and even then, use protection.

4) CAUSE: Alcohol abuse

STRATEGY: See number 2.

Ok – in a little more depth, alcohol isn’t very kind to your skin. Excessive alcohol consumption depletes collagen, skin elasticity and causes redness and dehydration. Studies have shown moderate drinking has some health benefits, but it’s best not to get carried away. Too much alcohol makes you lose sleep while it busily damages your liver, heart and even contributes to breast cancer.  By all means, have a drink or two but have a water or two in between. Hit the bottle hard and it will end up written all over your face.

5) CAUSE: Parenting

STRATEGY No, the answer isn’t “don’t” because parenting also keeps you young at heart and personally fulfilled (in most cases) and that’s good for your face. However, it’s important to remember to be a person and a parent. Too many parents age themselves rapidly through loss of sleep, lack of time to exercise and putting everyone else’s needs first. This isn’t fulfilling and it’s certainly not the fountain of youth either. Parents owe it to their kids to be in the best health possible. That means prioritising sleep (kids need sleep too, it’s a skill they have to learn), making time for exercise and setting a good example with food. Which brings us to…

6) CAUSE: Too much food

STRATEGY Foods that contribute to inflammation in the body, contribute to ageing on the face. So – the things that your tastebuds like most but your body likes least are found in processed carbohydrates, processed meats (containing nitrates) and fatty meats. Excess sugars are linked to excess wrinkles and it’s not only skin deep, the foods we’ve just mentioned are tied to heart disease and diabetes. Stick to eating foods as close to their natural state as possible, eat colourful food (berries, greens, orange and red stuff too), lean protein, keep your fibre up and drink water. So simple.

7) CAUSE: Too little food

STATEGY: Deprivation isn’t fun and it’s not useful for keeping youthful either. Underfeed any living thing and it won’t be ripe and juicy. Want to be ripe and juicy? Of course you do. Enjoy your food, eat the right amount of all those yummy antioxidant rich foods we just talked about and health and happiness will radiate like moonbeams from your face.

8) CAUSE: Mental Illness

STRATEGY: Obviously, this is something that’s unavoidable in most cases but it will age you rapidly. There are two safeguards that will help a bit. Firstly – stay away from drugs. Everyone’s brain is wired differently and knowing how yours will respond to artificial stimulation is an inexact science. Doctors still don’t know how different brains will react to legal stimulants let alone something whipped up illegally. It’s like prodding a sleeping lion – you might get away with it for a bit, but you might not and at any stage you could awaken a beast.

Secondly, pay really close attention to your mental state. If you feel the cold tentacles of depression embracing you – see a GP. There is help available.

9) CAUSE: Grief / Stress

STRATEGY: If only we had a choice to avoid these guys – but we don’t. They rock up uninvited and sometimes they hang around for years and years. Elimination is impossible and management is key. Make sure you have people to talk to and accept grief and stress are as unavoidable as death and taxes (in fact, they often are death or taxes) but they do make the good times sweeter. Take every opportunity to laugh or smile. Demand hugs and kisses.

10) CAUSE: No skincare regime

STRATEGY: Ok, time to lighten up and get back to some nice vain beauty stuff. This is where you can really make a difference. If all or some of the above have made their mark on your mush there is definitely help available. Consult a professional who can help choose the right Cosmeseuticals for your skin type. The big name beauty brands found in department stores and duty free shops look and smell lovely and promise great things, but don’t do much. There are some excellent Australian brands delivering amazing results. Check out Aspect Dr and Ultraceuticals. And, when administered skilfully; anti-wrinkle injectables can make a world of difference. Of course the results are pretty awful if you let someone stick needles into your face who doesn’t know what they’re doing. Don’t be tempted by cheap deals on this one. Only trust the best in the business.

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to look and feel the best you can. Life can be long if you’re lucky, so make sure that face you show to the world is one you’re happy with.