Knowing you have to take good care of our skin, trying to follow through, and actually accomplishing that are often three separate things. You usually make an effort to choose your skincare products wisely. You religiously remember to wash the makeup off of your face before you go to bed. Um, most of the time, anyway. You even apply sunscreen when you're at the beach.
But what if we told you there were things you do on a regular basis that have a negative impact on your skin? Things you probably don't even give a second thought?
Your bad habits could be ruining your skin. That beautiful complexion you want is still going to be impossible if you're doing these five worst habits that could make your skin crawl.
- Not Getting Enough Sleep - Your wild nights out with the gang may be what your therapist ordered, but they're not doing your skin any good. Not getting enough sleep can result in clogged pores and dull skin, and that's on the short end. Long term, you could be left with a number of skin problems, including premature aging, eczema, and psoriasis.
Night time is when your skin does most of its work: naturally repairing damage and regenerating. Not getting enough sleep can decrease collagen production. Missing out on your zzz's can raise cortisol levels, your body's stress hormone, which leads to inflammation, a contributing factor to many skin problems. "Persistently high cortisol levels can interfere with how well our bodies heal and can promote acne breakouts," warns Joshua Zeichner, M.D., the Director of Clinical Research at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City.
Getting the recommended eight hours of sleep a night will not only help you look refreshed, but will replenish and rehydrate your skin.
- Too Much Sugar High - Studies have found that diets heavy on sugar can speed up the aging process. Sugars give bacteria fuel to feed on while weakening your immune system. It can cause spikes in insulin release, triggering inflammation. Consuming too much refined sugar can cause damage to the collagen in your skin, resulting in signs of accelerated aging like wrinkles and a loss of elasticity.
Stay away from sweet treats, as well as refined carbs like you find in bread and pasta. Opt for plenty of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. These foods are not only healthier, but they're full of antioxidants that can help to repair your skin, keeping it younger, healthier, and clear. Make sure you're eating plenty of foods with probiotics like yogurt and kefir to keep the balance of good bacteria strong in your gut. That can help combat inflammation all the way out to your skin!
- Over-Exfoliating - While exfoliating can slough away loose patches and increase circulation, the rough treatment can actually disrupt the barrier that balances moisture in the skin. Too much can strip it of the necessary oils it needs to maintain your natural glow, causing irritation. You could experience redness, inflammation, irritation, and breakouts.
Celebrity Esthetician Renee Rouleau advises using a good scrub or exfoliating acid sparingly. "It can be used seven days on and seven days off. During the days when it is not being used, nourish the new healthy cells with a great moisturizer for your skin type." Choose gentle products that won't cause too much irritation. Glowbiotic's line of moisturizers literally trick the skin into a repair mode. Each of their hydrators taps into the skin's immune system and enhances the skin's function with anti-inflammatory benefits, skin renewing capabilities and self-generating functions that increase key proteins like collagen and elastin.
- Smoking - Aside from endangering your overall health, smoking is downright harmful to your skin. It causes premature aging and wrinkling, adding a decade to your skin and giving your face a leathery look. It can also lead to much more serious trouble. "Smoking cigarettes increases your risk of squamous cell skin cancer, a dangerous skin cancer that can metastasize and spread if not caught early," warns dermatologist Rachel Nazarian, M.D..
Nicotine reduces blood flow to your skin so it doesn't get enough oxygen and nutrients. The chemicals in tobacco damage the collagen and elastin proteins that give your skin structure. It also decreases the ability of the skin to heal. According to dermatologist Yoon-Soo Cindy Bae, M.D., with the Laser and Skin Surgery Center of New York, "A smoker's skin is thin, dull, more wrinkled, and less able to heal." Smokefree.gov says that cigarettes can also cause the skin on your face to become dry and gray. It often can't even be remedied with the best moisturizer and good skin routine.
Even second hand smoke can cause skin to sag and speed up the wrinkle process.
As if you needed another reason to quit. "Quitting smoking may have restorative benefits," says Pat Folan, RN, Director of the North Shore-LIJ Center for Tobacco Control in Great Neck, New York.
- Too Much Sun - "Every tan, even a slight darkening, is a sign of skin damage," explains Dr. Nazarian. "With repeated exposure to UV-radiation, skin cells can mutate, causing deadly skin cancers like melanoma. If that wasn't bad enough, chronic radiation and tanning also cause signs of skin aging like wrinkles, sagging, and drooping, brown spots, and uneven tone."
If you want to prevent wrinkles and skin cancer, you should be taking precautions daily, even when it's cold or cloudy outside. "Every day of the year, rain or shine, harmful UV rays come through windows in your office, home, or car," says Rouleau.
Look for a minimum of SPF 30, and apply it every two hours if you're outside. Don't skimp, either. A full teaspoon is about right for your face, hairline, around your nose, and chin.
Change isn't always easy, especially when old habits run deep, but for the sake of your skin and your overall health, in general, change can be a good thing. If you're not sure where to start, have a conversation with your doctor or dermatologist, who can help to steer you in the right direction. You and your skin are worth it!