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10 Bad Habits That Mess Up Your Skin

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It’s hard to pinpoint the one or two things that might be causing breakouts or dulled, aged complexion in your skin. That’s because there are numerous culprits for these types of things, and the best way to reverse or prevent damage is to unilaterally correct your bad habits. You may never pinpoint the exact cause of that horrific pimple or the crow’s feet beside your eyes, but that’s not the main point. Instead, you can revel in the fact that you prioritize skin care and clear, smooth complexion so much that you attack the problem from every possible angle. Here are 10 habits you should break in order to do exactly that.

1. Eating sugary and processed foods

Unnaturally sweet and processed foods can wreak havoc on your skin. Not only do they cause pores to clog, but they also give the skin a dull appearance and rougher texture, since they compromise collagen production and elasticity. So, while many of us have inverse reactions to things like complex carbohydrates and dairy products, it’s often a genetic situation. On the other hand, processed and overly sugary foods are universally damaging to everyone’s complexion.

2. Not getting ample rest

Your skin cells need as much time as possible to regenerate overnight. In the same way that a poor night’s rest leaves you feeling sniffly and exhausted, it also dullens and darkens the skin, slows healing of blemishes, compromises collagen production, increases stress and leaves hormones imbalanced (both of which can lead to breakouts). But if you get 7-8 hours of sleep each night, your skin cells can properly “turn over”, and the healthiest, brightest cells can shine through, which the rest of your dermis functions stay in tip-top shape, too.

3. Dehydrating yourself

There is no downplaying the importance of water in our health, and skin is no exception. By keeping skin hydrated inside and out, you keep it firm, bright, and clear. This can be accomplished by drinking enough water every day, and avoiding dehydrating behaviors (like excessive alcohol consumption, overexposure to the sun, taking long and hot showers, using alcohol-based astringents, and more).

4. Popping pimples

As tempting as it is to squeeze a pimple, please refrain from such an urge. Your body has the ability to vanquish the breakout without you risking a scar or long-lasting dark spot on the skin. This is doubly important for deep-embedded pimples, the kind that hurt to the touch. The whiteheads and surface-level comedones are easy to burst and often can heal within a week (though this should still be avoided), while pressing on the nodular and cystic pimples will only further aggravate them and perpetuate their existence. If you simply cannot avoid popping them, then visit your board-certified dermatologist and let her or him handle the matter with professional and safe measures.

5. Not applying SPF daily

The best way to respect your skin and prevent signs of aging is to wear SPF every day. That’s because a broad-spectrum SPF blocks UVA and UVB rays, which are present year round—even when the sun is obscured by clouds. These rays, along with the pollutants in the air, accelerate signs of aging on the skin, such as wrinkles, fine lines, dark spots, rough texture, and more. Of the two types of UV rays, these signs of wear are caused by UVA rays, which penetrate deep into the skin, and which can even travel through windows. UVB rays, on the other hand, cause sunburns, can damage the skin’s DNA, and lead to skin cancer. (They, however, cannot penetrate glass.) To shield yourself from them, Pick an broad-spectrum, SPF-packed moisturizer, ideally SPF 30 or higher, then apply it every morning and again every few hours throughout the day. At night you can swap in a nourishing night cream.

6. Neglecting a proper skincare regimen

Commit this to memory: You need to cleanse your face in the morning and evening. And after each time, you need to follow it with a moisturizer (SPF by morning, dense night cream or retinol by night). That’s the most baseline skincare regimen you can have, but it’s imperative in keeping pores clear; rinsing away dirt, sweat, and grime; defending the skin from UV rays and toxins; and nourishing it with soothing and healing nutrients. You can add complexity as you like, such as an exfoliating agent twice weekly, or a deep-cleansing mud mask once a week. But don’t neglect the baseline regimen, ever.

7. Hastily shaving

Speaking of regimens, is your shaving routine thorough and steady? It should include a skin-conditioning pre-shave oil, a soothing shave agent, a fresh and clean blade, as well as a soothing and toning after shave. It should start with a cleansing rinse using warm water, to open the pores, and it should end with a cold splash of water to rinse everything away while tightening the pores. (Technically it ends with the after shave, which follows the cold splash.) It should also be a slow, steady shave that follows the grain of your facial hair growth. And with all of these steps in place, you will minimize the threat of breakouts, bumps, infections, redness, and ingrown hairs.

8. Ignoring and amplifying stress

We wear our stress on our face, and not just with a furrowed brow and a frown. Instead, our hormone levels fall way out of whack, and the imbalance leads to clogged pores. It also compromises our sleep patterns and slows other bodily functions, like the production of collagen and elastin. So, surprise surprise—it means skin looks tired, dull, and rough. Do what you can to minimize stress in your life, then you’ll immediately see improvement across the board...especially in your own reflection.

9. Not washing your bedsheets and hats

Consider how much time your head spends on your pillows, and tucked under your hat. And how much time the oils and grime from our scalp and forehead transfer to the pillows and hat. Ditto for any product that might be in your hair. It’s no wonder that one of the main causes of breakouts is dirty, bacteria-infested bedsheets and hat brims. Keep them clean—wash hats after every couple wears (especially if you get sweaty), and wash your pillowcases and bedsheets every week, if you can.

10. Touching your face

It’s easy to touch your own face without realizing it. It’s so commonplace, like when you’re sitting and listening to a friend talk over coffee, scratching an itch, or wiping sweat from your forehead. But considering all the dirty, germy things your hands touch in a day, do you really want to transfer that bacteria to your skin? This is a recipe for breakouts and clogged pores, and something that is easily avoided. So, be more cognizant of how often you touch our own face, and try your best to avoid it.