Though you're most likely doing great things for your skin, you might be sabotaging it in ways you didn't realize.
Even if you have a great beauty routine with the most expensive products, there are a lot of surprising ways you're quietly destroying your skin.
Tanning, drinking too much booze and smoking are all obvious mistakes you should avoid, but what about the seemingly innocuous, everyday things that pile up over time?
Here are 10 bad habits you should quit *now* for a gorgeous, glowing complexion.
Eating excess sugar... when you know you shouldn't
Overdoing it with the candy, cupcakes and bagels is easy to do, but just remember that everything you eat ends up showing on your face. Excess sugar triggers an inflammatory response in the body that breaks down collagen and elastin in the skin, which makes you look older - think loss of firmness and elasticity in the skin, with more fine lines, wrinkles and dullness.
Focus the majority of your diet on whole, nutrient-dense foods like leafy greens, healthy fats and organic protein. If you have a sweet tooth, grab a piece of fruit with some honey or a piece of dark chocolate to satisfy your sugar cravings.
Not hydrating enough
You already know the importance of drinking enough water, but you probably aren't doing it consistently. Getting adequate hydration is one of the first steps to keeping your skin healthy and glowing. Water transports nutrients to places they're needed most in the body, flushes toxic chemicals from your system, and promotes healthy blood flow.
Implement small changes to get better at hydration. Start your morning by drinking one or two glasses of filtered water (or warm water with lemon), eat more fruits and veggies that have high water content (i.e. cucumbers, tomatoes, romaine lettuce, celery, watermelon, etc).
Compromising your beauty sleep
If you have trouble sleeping at night, stay off those electronic devices. The blue wavelength light suppresses melatonin, the hormone that makes you sleepy and regulates your circadian rhythms. When your melatonin levels drop and your circadian rhythm gets thrown off, it affects the quality of your sleep. Your skin cells won't be able to turn over as efficiently, which in turn makes your skin look dull. And any fine lines (like the ones around your eyes) will become more obvious.
Also, your sleeping conditions do matter. Even if you're getting enough sleep, there are other ways you could be messing with your skin at night. If you're sleeping on dirty pillows and pillowcases, all that built-up oil, dead skin cells and bacteria gets deposited right into the pores of your skin. Change your pillowcases at least once a week, if not twice, and swap out the regular cotton version for silk, which is easier on your skin (less wrinkles).
Using gritty exfoliators... or not exfoliating at all
Exfoliating your skin is critical for a healthy, glowing complexion. As you get older, your skin cell turnover starts to slow way down, leaving dead skin cells sitting on the surface of your skin. That not only leaves your skin dry, dull and wrinkled-looking, but also prevents the absorption of any of the products you use to moisturize your skin.
Giving your skin a good scrub to slough off those dead skin cells will leave you with a more vibrant complexion, almost immediately. Avoid gritty scrubs that contain rough exfoliators and harsh peels to avoid irritation and inflammation, and opt for gentle ones. Exfoliate no more than a couple of times a week, but only once a week if you have sensitive skin.
Not wearing SPF daily
The first line of defense should be shade, protective clothing and avoiding the midday sun, but when those options aren't possible, you need to slather up with sunscreen. Skipping it damages your skin's collagen and connective tissues. This can lead to loss of elasticity, increased fine lines and wrinkles, broken blood vessels, sunspots, and hyper-pigmentation, which speeds up the overall effects of aging.
Choose a mineral sunscreen with an SPF of 15-50, depending on your skin tone and sun intensity, that contains avobenzone, zinc and titanium oxide. These two ingredients provide broad spectrum UVA and UVB protection and are gentle enough for everyday use. Apply it to your face, and don't ignore areas like your hairline, jawline, ears, and any exposed skin from the neck down. And make sure to use sunscreen all year round, even in the winter.
Leaving your makeup on overnight
If you wear makeup and you're not taking it off before bed, that's one of the worst things you can do to your skin. We're all guilty of this one. When it's been a long night, all you want to do is crawl into bed, trust me I know. But, leaving makeup and environmental pollutants on your skin can lead to breakouts. It can also settle into your pores leaving an uneven surface for your next application, even if you remove it the next morning.
Naked, clean skin is happy skin, so give your skin a break, let it breathe at night, and allow it to properly and efficiently restore itself. If you have a hard time making it to the bathroom sink before passing out, keep a pack of face wipes on your bedside table.
Wearing makeup to the gym
Just like your skin needs to breathe at night, it also needs to breathe while you're sweating it out at the gym. Makeup creates a barrier that mixes with oil and sweat, which clogs your pores and glands, resulting in breakouts and blackheads. When sweat is mixed with makeup (including sweat-proof makeup), it creates an ideal environment for skin irritation.
To avoid all of this, cleanse your face before working out. If you insist on wearing makeup, stick to products that are lightweight, natural and organic, and make sure to cleanse immediately after your workout.
Using dirty makeup brushes
Dirty makeup brushes become breeding grounds for bacteria, which can clog your pores, irritate your skin and cause breakouts. As long as your brushes go uncleaned, you'll be spreading dust, dirt and oil from your face, into your makeup, and back to your face again.
Using a dirty, bacteria-infected brush on your face can cause an overload of microbes your skin isn't used to, so if you notice bumps around the areas you use your brushes, it's probably because you're not cleaning your brushes enough, if at all.
Choose a good quality brush cleaner for regular maintenance and shampoo once a month for deep cleaning... and never share your brushes.
Not reading the ingredient lists of your beauty products
From cleansers and shampoo to lotions and deodorants, many of the beauty products you use everyday could be sabotaging your skin and body in ways you didn't realize. Since your skin absorbs around 60% of what you put on it, it's important to use the safest products possible.
Conventional beauty products can irritate your skin, clog your pores, and create a barrier that keeps your skin from breathing. If you've noticed your skin is extra sensitive or dry lately, or you keep having breakouts, it's time to look at the products you use.
Avoid products with fragrance and added preservatives and stick to ones that are natural and organic.
Making sure you cleanse your skin correctly is an important step for maintaining glowing skin. The key is to remove impurities that can clog your pores without overcleansing. which strips away your skin's natural protective oils. While the evening cleanse is crucial to removing dirt, oil, makeup and environmental pollutants, it isn't always necessary to cleanse again in the morning. The oils that your skin produces while you're sleeping are hydrating and balancing, so you don't want to wash them away.
To avoid overcleansing your skin, gently wash your face with a good cleanser and lukewarm water at night, and rinse with just lukewarm water when you wake up to retain more of your own moisturizing oils.
Did any of these resonate with you? Let me know which ones you struggle with in the comments below. We're all guilty of at least one :)
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