We all know the golden rules of skincare. Apply SPF religiously, even when it’s cold and rainy outside. Don’t spend too much time in the sun and wear a hat and protective clothing when you do. Cleanse, tone and moisturize at least once a day. We could repeat them in our sleep, and for the most part, we try to adhere to them as closely as possible. Yet, for all our good intentions, are we still causing unintentional damage to our skin? The answer might surprise you. Read on for five ways we’re doing harm to our most valuable organ, even without fully realizing it.
1. Drinking too much alcohol.
Have you ever woken up after a night of drinking and wondered why your skin looks so parched and dehydrated? Turns out, excessive alcohol doesn’t only harm our liver, but also wreaks havoc on our skin as well.
How? By negatively targeting our liver, it lessens its ability to remove toxins from our body. As a result, those impurities show up in myriad places, most notably our faces in the mirror the next morning. Your best bet is to stick to a two-drink-per-day maximum, preferably less, to see optimal changes in your complexion.
While you’re at it, take serious strides to kick that smoking habit if you have one. The carbon monoxide present in cigarettes displaces your skin’s inherent oxygen. Combined with blood-flow-restricting nicotine, it makes for an ill-fated concoction that leaves your skin thirsty and discolored.
2. Taking a long, hot shower.
Yes, nothing feels better at the end of a long day than a nice, lengthy soak under a hot shower head. However, think twice before you lose yourself in the downpour. As it pours over your skin, the hot water strips your skin of the oils it naturally produces. This is one of the reasons you might exit the shower feeling glossy and smooth only to be aghast at your ashy legs a few minutes later.
To keep skin soft and supple, keep your showers as short as possible and cool the temperature down a few notches. You can also use exfoliating and moisturizing bath products designed to help prepare and nourish your skin. Think you have your current shaving routine down? You may want to learn more about ways to keep your skin smooth and hair-free without damaging it in the process.
Just these simple changes alone can help your skin retain its oils and prevent flakiness and dryness. For maximum moisture, apply lotion as soon as you get out.
3. Eating too much fast food.
Though scientists and dietitians sometimes disagree on the exact correlation between diet and complexion, most will agree that a diet high in grease and fat (i.e. a take-out centric one) isn’t your best bet for glowing, healthy skin. Not only is ingesting it bad for your internal organs, but there is also an amplified chance of you getting the grease from that food on your face, most notably your chin or cheeks. Especially if your complexion is already oily, this will only make it worse and could eventually lead to clogged pores and cumbersome breakouts.
Instead of running through the fast food line the next time hunger strikes, try reaching for healthy fruits and vegetables instead. In particular, look for antioxidant-rich choices such as blueberries, leafy greens, tomatoes and cranberries.
4. Constantly touching your face.
Maybe you’ve been a pimple popper since high school. Maybe you have a desk job in an office and rest your chin in your hands while you stare at a screen all day. Regardless, the fact is that our hands and faces aren’t meant to be in constant contact. For one, consider how many surfaces your hands touch on a per-second basis. Do you want those transferred to your face? Moreover, germs and bacteria aside, your hands can also transfer oil to other parts of your body as well, making them a breakout carrier for some.
The takeaway? Resist the urge to pop those pesky bumps. Your mother was right on this one. Doing so will cause more harm than good, unfortunately, and could even lead to scarring. While you’re waiting for nature to take its course, try applying a solution to your trouble spots that contains acne-fighting salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide. Then, call your dermatologist if your breakouts still won’t go away.
5. Not cleaning your phone or sunglasses.
Sometimes, it’s not your hands that carry bacteria to your face, but rather the accessories you’re propping against it. Think about it: When’s the last time you thoroughly cleaned your sunglasses or your smartphone? If you can’t think of the answer, it’s time to do so now. These two surfaces can carry myriad icky organisms that don’t need to be resting against your face, especially considering the length of time we wear our shades or chat on our phones.
There’s a reason skincare experts refer to the space between your temple and chin as the phone zone. This is where your device usually rests and as such, where most of your oil build-ups initiate. Invest in a pack of disinfecting wipes and regularly swipe them over these tools to make sure they’re as clean as possible. You may also swap out your handheld phone for earbuds to put even more distance between your phone and your face.
Clearer Skin Starts WIth One Step
We all want a dewy, crystal clear complexion and most of us are willing to put in the time, money and work to get one. Yet, it would be unwise and unfair to derail your progress by falling into one of these five traps. Take a look at your daily routine and consider where you can make a few small changes today. From your diet to your habits, you’d be surprised at how much of your lifestyle shows up on your skin. By living better and making wiser choices, you could begin to see the benefits immediately.