The consequences of bad skin habits can range from mild irritation to an increased risk of skin cancer. If you arenâ€™t seeing the clear skin you want, take a moment to review your skin care regimen. The following bad skin habits are very common â€” chances are youâ€™ll find at least one that you can change in your pursuit of healthy skin.
Bad Skin Habit No. 1: Smoking
â€œSmoking causes premature aging of the skin, makes sun damage worse, and makes precancerous lesions worse,â€ says dermatologist Clay J. Cockerell, MD, medical director of Dermpath Diagnostics in Dallas, Texas. â€œIt increases wrinkling, adds a yellowish discoloration to the skin, and increases skin cancers.â€ Smoking may be one of the hardest bad skin habits to break, so if youâ€™re struggling to quit, work with your primary care provider on a smoking cessation plan.
Bad Skin Habit No. 2: Lack of Sleep
In contrast to smoking, losing sleep hasnâ€™t been proven to damage healthy skin at the biochemical level, but it can cause you to look a little worse for wear. Lack of sleep can show up on your skin, making you look wrinkled or tired, says Cockerell. Instead of attempting to covering up signs of sleeplessness, try to get the recommended eight hours of sleep per night.
Bad Skin Habit No. 3: Picking and Scratching
Stress, skin rashes, medication, and insect bites are common reasons that people pick at or scratch otherwise healthy skin. â€œWhen you start scratching at the skin, it causes an itch-scratch cycle. The nerves get larger and transmit a sensation even though there is nothing there to cause the itch,â€ explains Cockerell. Repeated picking or scratching also can be due to mental illness or neurological damage. If this is a problem for you, talk with your primary doctor to get to the root of this behavior.
Bad Skin Habit No. 4: Forgetting to Remove Makeup
Some people can forget to clean makeup off for a day or two without any problem, while others will break out if they sleep in their makeup just once. A layer of dirt may form if you go without cleansing long enough. Clean skin is important. Follow a daily skin hygiene program with skin care products appropriate for your skin type.
Bad Skin Habit No. 5: Skipping Sunscreen
Cockerell warns that without sun protection, you are increasing your risk of skin cancer, including the most serious kind, melanoma. Many people neglect to put on sunscreen and then find themselves outside, unprotected, for longer than they expected. Get in the habit of wearing sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher. Apply it everywhere on your body that could be exposed to the sun before you go outside. Cockerell advises using an SPF of 60 or 70.
Bad Skin Habit No. 6: Over-Exfoliating
It seems like every product advertises exfoliants and every womanâ€™s magazine touts the benefits, but should you really do it? Exfoliation may undermine your efforts to get clear skin, says Cockerell. â€œNew skin turns itself over every six weeks,â€ he says. You might find that aggressive exfoliation actually leads to dry, irritated, and red skin. A better tactic is to keep skin clean and well- moisturized. If you do choose to exfoliate, keep it to once a week if you have dry skin, or twice a week if your skin is oily.
Bad Skin Habit No. 7: Using the Wrong Skin Care Products
Figuring out which skin care products work best for your needs is a trial-and- error process, says Cockerell. â€œIf you've got really dry skin, you need to use something with more of an oil-based component. If your skin tends to be more oily, use water-based products â€” oil-based products can make pimples worse.â€ Tingling, itching, dryness, and irritation are all signs that the product you are using isn't right for you. Consult a dermatologist for help in finding the right products for your needs.
Bad Skin Habit No. 8: Forgetting Skin From the Neck Down
Two problems can arise from neglecting the rest of your body, even as you care for your face: dry areas and sun damage. People often moisturize their face, but forget about the other parts of their body, which can also become dry and cracked. Likewise, people often put sunscreen on their face but then let their back, arms, and legs go unprotected. Skin cancer can appear anywhere, stresses Cockerell, so include your entire body when you moisturize and apply sunscreen.
Bad Skin Habit No. 9: Not Cleaning Makeup Brushes
Bacteria can build up on makeup brushes and sponges. Clean or replace them on a regular basis to avoid spreading bacteria onto your skin. Dirty makeup brushes can be a problem if you have an open sore or crack in your skin where bacteria can start to create an infection. â€œIâ€™m also concerned about sharing brushes,â€ says Cockerell. Makeup brushes can pass infections between people. To help maintain healthy skin, keep your brushes clean and donâ€™t let anyone else use them.
Bad Skin Habit No. 10: Pressing a Phone Against Your Cheek
You may have heard that pressing a phone against your cheek can cause breakouts. Cockerell notes that some people are allergic to the materials phones are made from. Bacteria can also collect and grow on phone surfaces. Wipe phones clean regularly and your skin shouldnâ€™t be affected. He adds that hands-free headsets, ear buds, and sores caused by pressure on the ear are more of a problem than using a standard phone. Try to use speakerphones instead of headsets or phones pressed to the ear.
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