They say “youth is wasted on the young”, and we couldn’t agree more. Remember being a teenager lying in the sun all day and eating whatever you wanted?  Ah, those were the days! Looking back, there are a few things we wish we knew for our future old lady selves. Here are our picks for the lessons we wish we knew!

teenage girl posing playfully and wearing sunglasses

1. Wear sunglasses. It takes two seconds to put on a pair of sunglasses, so put a pair on for crying out loud! UV exposure has been shown to be a factor in macular degeneration and cataracts, and if the health reasons aren’t enough, think of the lines around your eyes!

2. For the love of God stay away from tanning beds. I know you think there’s no better feeling than a warm tanning bed on a cold rainy day but it’s not worth it! Forget about the premature aging, tanning is downright dangerous.

3. An entire box of whole wheat pasta is not a healthy dinner. Just because something is advertised as healthy doesn’t mean you should eat a whole box of it with salt and butter.

woman plucking eyebrows

4. Watch your eyebrows. Eyebrow trends come and go, but whatever the trend, resist the temptation to remove the majority of your brows. Over-waxing and plucking leads to the hair not growing back, so if you want to have eyebrows by the time you’re 30, just resist the urge.

5. That piercing is going to get infected. No other explanation necessary.

6. You know why you’re breaking out? It’s because you do a terrible job washing your face. You’re really phoning it in with the face washing. You don’t have to remove a layer of skin with each wash, but use a little elbow grease, and face soap.

teenage girl putting moisturizer on her face

7. Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize. That skin on your face?  You’re stuck with it for the rest of your life, so you better take care of it.  Don’t worry about clogging pores, start moisturizing now or your face will have the texture of a catcher’s mitt before you’re 40.

8. Quit the soda.  Your daily Mountain Dew habit is gross, please stop.

9. I don’t care if you tan after you burn, put some sunblock on. Back in the 1990s we didn’t have spray sunblock, we had to put it on the old fashioned way and it was a pain to apply. As big of a pain sunblock is, just one blistering sunburn as a kid can double your chances of getting melanoma as an adult, so never skip it.

woman lifting light free weights

10. Those little pink weights are a waste of time. Yeah they’re cute and the women in magazines look like they’re in great shape, but use the real weights or don’t even bother.

11. That plastic thing is the tampon applicator, it doesn’t stay in. TMI and a true story. No need to go into further detail.

12. Stop skipping breakfast. Get your lazy butt out of bed 20 minutes earlier so you can eat some breakfast. Maybe you’ll do better in math if your stomach isn’t rumbling the whole time.

teenager drinking water bottle

13. Start drinking water, now. You need to drink more water, bottom line. It doesn’t matter how much you’re drinking, it’s not enough. Drink more.

14. Screw the cool kids, do not smoke. Aside from aging you like crazy, smoking might be the most expensive and dangerous bad habit you can pick up. People who’ve quit smoking have said it’s one of the hardest things they’ve ever done, so make it easy on yourself and don’t ever pick up a cigarette.

15. Go to sleep. You need more sleep, you do not need to stay up all night reading Flowers In The Attic.

teenage girl listening to music

16. Turn down your headphones. Yes, The Bodyguard soundtrack is awesome, but you do not need to blast it in your discman. Listening to your headphones at full volume can lead to hearing loss, so try to keep it at a seven.

17. Floss. Do yourself a favor and floss every now and then. Flossing helps keep your teeth and gums stay strong and healthy. Flossing increases your odds of getting to keep your teeth into your old age, so make it a nightly habit.

Until someone builds a time machine we really can’t go back and give our teen selves a good kick in the pants, but we can share our wisdom with the teenagers in our lives. Maybe we can’t go back and start using eye cream earlier, but we can hopefully help someone else stave wrinkles for a couple more years.