You sometimes use sunscreen
Always. It should be always sunscreen, as in every time you go outside—rain,
shine, cold, crappy, it doesn’t matter. If there’s daylight,
there are ultraviolet rays; in fact, even when the clouds are blocking
your sun, up to 80 percent of the sun's harmful UVA and UVB can penetrate
your skin. You know skin cancer is the most common cancer in the US; an
estimated one in five Americans will develop it in their lifetime. You
also know too much sun will age your skin faster—many wrinkles,
dark spots, and skin sagginess can be blamed on UVA rays. What you may
not realize, however, is that excessive sun exposure can damage special
immune cells in the skin that combat infection, help prevent the reactivation
of certain viral conditions (like cold sores), and target certain pre-cancerous
and cancerous cells.
You sunscreen after you’re outside
The bottle you’re using says: SPF 30 (or higher), broad spectrum
(so it protects your skin from both UVA aging rays and UVB burning rays)
and water resistant (effective for up to 40 minutes in the water; very
water resistant works for 80 minutes). This is all excellent. But for
your sunscreen to do its job properly, it needs to be applied 15 minutes
before you head outdoors, so your skin can fully absorb it. In the time
it takes you to find the perfect spot on the beach, set up your chair,
move to a better spot, open your umbrella, and then grab the sunscreen,
your skin is unprotected and can burn. Also, be sure to use enough sunscreen
to generously cover all of your exposed skin, and don’t forget to
reapply at least every two hours, or immediately after swimming or excessive sweating.
You use a washcloth
Not only is a washcloth way too harsh for your face, but the washcloth
scrubs off oils we need on our bodies, explains Chris G. Adigun, MD, a
dermatologist in the Research Triangle area of North Carolina. 'Ditch
the washcloth,' she says; your hands are fine to lather up your body,
and stick to fingertips for your face. And as good as that steady stream
of shower water feels, limit it to 10 minutes at a lukewarm temp; long,
hot showers dry your skin.
You put soap on that washcloth
Your skin hates you twice as much now. Gentle or non-soap cleansers are
the way to go. 'Soap has a high pH, which strips away natural oils
and basically destroys the skin,' says Mona Gohara, MD, associate
clinical professor, department of dermatology, Yale School of Medicine.
The products with scrubbing beads and grit can be too abrasive as well,
adds Dr. Adigun. When you over-exfoliate or overuse toners in an effort
to make your skin less oily, you body compensates and creates an overproduction
of oil, essentially defeating the purpose, explains Dr. Gohara.
Moisturizing isn’t part of your post-shower routine
When your skin is damp really is the best time to do it. Moisturizers work
by trapping existing moisture in your skin. Ointments and creams (the
kind you find in a jar or tub) are more effective than lotion at helping
soften and smooth skin, and most importantly—keeping it intact.
'The skin is our first line of defense against infections,' says
Dr. Adigun; it helps block bacteria, viruses, and fungi from entering
the body. Moisturizing regularly helps prevent microscopic cracks and
breaks in the skin from developing, which compromises this barrier function.
Some ingredients to look for: olive or jojoba oil, ceramides, lactic acid,
urea, hyaluronic acid, dimethicone, glycerin, and petrolatum.
You believe toothpaste helps acne
It doesn’t. An alcohol-based toner and astringent isn’t going
to make that pimple go away either. And you know what else isn’t
true? That you should pour a bunch of hydrogen peroxide on a cut or scrape
to clean it out. Those old wives' tales just irritate your skin even more.
You never clean your cell phone
Research has shown it has more germs than a public bathroom door handle.
And if that’s not gross enough, Buzzfeed asked a microbiologist
to compare bacteria on a toilet seat versus a few phones. The toilet seat
had about three different types of bacteria; the cell phones had an average
of 10 to 12 different (and worse) strains. 'Push that dirty phone
up against your face to talk, and you’re swirling bacteria and oil
into your pores,' says Gohara. She cleans hers with a facial wipe;
alcohol wipes work too.
You’re a chocoholic
Whether or not eating it will make you break out is still up for debate,
but what experts do know is that overeating sugar can leave your skin
dull and wrinkled. As you indulge in your favorite flavor of ice cream,
cake, and candy bar, sugar molecules bind to proteins in your skin, causing
damage to the fibers that keep skin firm and elastic, and likely leading
to wrinkles and sagginess.
You think 'beauty sleep' is funny
You can’t help it: Any time someone say they have to get their 'beauty
sleep,' you giggle. But it’s so not a punch line. Your skin
is constantly making new cells below the surface, and this process speeds
up during sleep. When you don’t get enough rest, skin cells have
less opportunity to regenerate; plus, stress hormones increase, which
can contribute to inflammation. So when you hear it’s time to get
some beauty sleep, stifle and hit the sack: Research has shown people
who get uninterrupted, quality sleep show half as many signs of aging
as poor sleepers, including fewer fine lines, better elasticity, and more
even tone. Ideal: seven to nine hours a night.
Article was originally featured on MSN.com and Readers Digest