Twin Study Shows How We Age Ourselves

The choices you make throughout your life can play a big part in whether you look younger or older than your years.

That’s the message from a study on twins and aging from Case Western Reserve University. Researchers looked at identical twins to see how choices like tanning, smoking, and more impacted the way a person ages.

According to the study, these behaviors or choices can make you look younger:

* Taking birth control or hormone replacement therapy. Estrogen can help increase water retention, and the more hydrated your skin is, the smoother it will look.

* Using sunscreen. There are so many good reasons to use sunscreen… let this be another one. Twins who loved the sun but NOT the sunscreen had deeper wrinkles and mottled skin.

* Staying lean — if you’re under forty. The extra weight can hide your best features or make your face look saggy.

According to the study, these behaviors or choices can make you look older:

* Excessive drinking. Drinking can damage blood vessels in the skin, leaving you with a blotchy appearance. Damage to the liver from drinking can also have an impact on collagen in the skin — the stuff that helps give skin its elasticity.

* Smoking. Twins in the study who smoked had deeper wrinkles, an uneven skin tone, and more wrinkles overall than twins who didn’t smoke.

* Divorce. Twins in the study who were divorced were judged to look nearly two years older than married or single twins. Researchers suspected this was largely due to stress or depression associated with an unhappy marriage and the resulting breakup.

* Sun worship (minus sunscreen). Too much sun and not enough sunscreen added up to deeper wrinkles and mottled skin.

It’s interesting to note that some things made a person look older if they were under forty, but younger if they were over forty. For example, a little extra weight if you’re over forty can help soften wrinkles. If you’re under forty, the extra pounds can cause sagging in the skin of the face.

One other thing to note: it seems like taking care of your emotional or mental health can have a big impact on how old you look. Stress, anger, tension, and depression can make a person look older than their years. If you’re having trouble with your mental or emotional health, talk to your doctor. There may be medications, therapy, or other options available to help.