You can say sagging skin and droopy face are part of life’s natural progression. As we advance in years, our skin loses collagen and elastin. With the loss of fat and volume, our face also becomes less rounded and the jawline begins drooping, showing the first signs of jowls. It doesn’t help that the constant downward pull of gravity 24/7 also causes other parts of our face to sag.
But what if I’d told you that some of these progressions could have been quickened due to some habits we’ve introduced into our lifestyles? Keen to know more? Then read on to find out 10 reasons that causes our facial skin to sag—some of which will probably surprise you.
1. Excessive and incorrect usage of smartphones and tablets
If you’re using your smartphone or tablet a lot and finding your face looking rather droopy, maybe you have the “smartphone face”. Huh, excuse me but what is a “smartphone face”?
According to an article published in The Week, “smartphone face” is a term coined by British cosmetic surgeon Dr. Mervyn Patterson, and it is used to describe a combination of sagging jowls, double chins, and marionette lines.
Patterson said that having our heads bent forward for long durations while staring at our smartphones and tablets increases the gravitational pull on the jowl area, leading to a drooping jawline. On top of sagging skin, constant neck bending creates a distinct crease above the clavical, a condition dubbed as â€˜tech-neck.’ Apparently, this is one of the reasons why younger women are suffering from sagging jowls!
Now if you’re reading this and doubt every word you’ve read, I want you to do a little exercise with me. It’s a very simple exercise that will take no more than five minutes of your time.
First, hold your jaw (fingers should touch the area an inch away from your mouth) lightly. Look ahead. Now, don’t remove those fingers. Leave them at the same position but lift your head up and look at the ceiling. You should feel your skin around your jaws and mouth tightening. Next, with the fingers on the same position of your face, lower your face and look down, like how you would at an iPhone or iPad. How does your skin feel now?
If your skin is very firm, perhaps you will feel very little difference. But otherwise, you should feel your skin loosening a bit as you lower your head. Do you reckon your skin can withstand all that pull of gravity when you’re hunched over your phone all the time? As it is, our skin is sagging a little with each passing day because our facial muscles tend to weaken with age.
So if you’re at risk of developing the “smartphone face”, do switch your habits up a bit. I realized I’m in the at-risk group and am already taking serious actions to reverse whatever damage that was done. For starters, I’m trying to read my iPhone and iPad at eye level where possible. I reckon the key is to look straight or look up.
2. Repetitive facial expressions that pull your face downwards
Gravity does a lot of harm to our skin, especially when our collagen and elastin start to erode over time. What’s worse is that a repetitive facial expression (think sulky) can contribute to sagging jowls. Don’t believe me? Then check yourself in the mirror when you first wake up every morning. You might notice that your face look a bit more grumpy (nasolabial folds look more obvious) even though you’re not and that’s because your facial expression had remained constant the whole time you were sleeping (unless of course you were extremely expressive in your sleep).
My point is, if you’ve been pursing or pouting your lips a lot to register your displeasures, you need to change your facial expression and smile a bit more. Not only is smiling good for your emotional well-being, some facial yogi actually suggest that opening your mouth to smile more often can help lift up your face.
3. Sudden and drastic weight lost
Losing weight too fast and too suddenly isn’t a great thing for your body and your skin. You may have lost the fats but you haven’t lost the skin. Suddenly, your skin doesn’t know how to hold itself up anymore and that’s when you end up with folds of loose, saggy skin. Obviously, it gets worse with age.
So if you’re planning on losing weight, the best is to do it gradually. At the same time, tighten your skin by doing some workout and facial exercises that’ll help tone those loose skin. We know a bulldog is cute but trust me, you don’t want your face to look anything like it.
4. Eating way too lean
Many women are concerned about fats and would steer clear of eating them. Well, if that is you, it’s time you change your mind because eating some fats is actually great for our skin.
Even the University of Maryland Medical Center concluded that the key elements to upholding natural skin care are essential fatty acids like omega-3s and omega-6s because these fats are the building blocks of healthy cell membranes. Healthy cell membranes promote the production of the skin’s natural oil barrier and keep it hydrated, plumper and younger looking.
So don’t cut out these good fats from your diet because your body cannot produce its own EFAs. Your face will thank you for it.
5. Eating too much sugar
Still on the subject of diet is that if there is one food you need to avoid, it is sugar. According to the book 10 Minutes/10 Years: Your Definitive Guide To A Beautiful And Youthful Appearance by dermatologist Dr Fredric Brandt, sugar triggers a process in the body called glycation. This is where the sugar molecules bind to your protein fibres and attack them. When that happens, your skin loses its collagen and your once-youthful face will begin to sag and look old.
6. Major dental procedure that overstretches your skin
If you have issues with your wisdom tooth or any tooth for that matter, I suggest you get them extracted as early as you can. Don’t wait till you’re too old because if you do, you might find your face shape and your skin affected as a result of tooth extraction.
Like me. I had my wisdom tooth extacted in 2013 and after that, I discovered that the left side of my face especially near my left jaw does not look like how it was before. Under certain lightings, I actually look like I have a sagging jowl!
You see, my cheeks swelled up right after the extraction and when it finally subsided, the skin around my left jawline just look more droopy. I suspect it is because my skin finds it hard to regain its elasticity after being overstretched. Anyway, I’m not the only one sharing this view. You can read more about it in my older entry titled, How Removing My Wisdom Tooth Changed My Face Shape.
7. Sleeping on your side
Sleeping with your face pressed against a pillow every night can possibly cause you sagging jaws. That is why The American Academy of Dermatology is recommending people to sleep on their backs. However, it appears that sleeping on our backs may not give us the deep sleep so a better way is to change to a softer pillow if you’re someone who sleeps on your side.
8. Hormonal imbalance
One of the key reasons for women who suffer from sagging skin is because of a loss of estrogens as they age. This is because estrogens encourage cells called fibroblasts to produce collagen and elastin. As a result, women with a low estrogen level usually experience more wrinkles and facial sagging.
Although losing estrogens usually occurs during menopause but increasingly, more younger women are suffering from hormonal imbalance due to conditions such as perimenopause. You may also want to know that there is also a variation in skin thickness during the menstrual cycle, with skin thickness lowest at the start of the menstrual cycle, when estrogen and progesterone levels are low, which then increases with the rising levels of estrogen (source).
9. Excessive exercises like jogging
Some of you are probably up in arms reading this but there are many dermatologists and beauty experts who support this view. There’s even a term coined as “the runner’s face”. According to plastic surgeon Dr Gerald Imber, running is just about the worst thing for causing a prematurely old and sagging face as he believes the constant high impact of pounding up and down pulls the facial skin away from the underlying muscles (source).
Going by what I’ve read, excessive jogging may not be a good idea for those who are older. Also,running causes an increase in cortisol and that can also contribute to premature aging. So if you’re a jogger in your late 30s, you may want to consider cutting back on your jogging or taking up another exercise.
10. Too much sun exposure
Finally, we all know that the sun’s ultraviolet light damages the skin elastin. This is why people who spend long hours under the sun have wrinkly and saggy skin. One thing to know is that sun damage may not show when you’re young, but the damage may creep up later in life. So ease up on those beach activities when the sun is right over your head and never slack with your sunscreen.
So have you noticed if your skin is showing signs of sagging? If so, it’s a good idea to identify the major culprits that’s causing the sag. If you’re not keen on getting fillers or having one of those non-invasive facelifts, you might want to consider taking up facial massages or facial exercises as engaging those facial muscles is a good way to tighten your skin again. Well, at least slow down the downward pull. However, whatever you do, do them in moderation as your skin is no plasticine. Once damage is done, reversing it might be tough.