Written by Lisa Allen | Edited by Dr Mark Kapnoudhis
While luck and your environment certainly play roles in how good or bad your skin looks, there are factors that you can control. In fact, your own bad habits may contribute to blemishes, wrinkles and scarring. Here are five things you should stop doing right away to improve the appearance and health of your skin.
1. Picking at blemishes and scabs
Whether you do it absentmindedly or purposefully, picking and popping are horrible habits. When you touch a blemish, especially an open one, bacteria from your fingers (and under your nails) can easily enter the wound, worsening the infection. Leaving spots alone to heal on their own will minimize scarring and keep breakouts confined to one area. You can apply a spot treatment to speed up the healing process, but beyond that – Hands off!
2. Skimping on sunscreen
Ignore the weather report, and use a moisturizer or sunscreen of at least SPF 15 on your exposed skin every day. UV rays can penetrate all but the densest cloud cover, leading to wrinkles, age spots and other signs of aging. When you head to the beach, you need about a golf-ball sized dollop of sunscreen to adequately coat your skin from head-to-toe. Make sure that you follow the directions on the package when it comes to reapplying.
This nasty habit is not only bad for your lungs, but it damages your skin. The pucker of your lips as you inhale can be forever memorialized by lines around your mouth, and wrinkles elsewhere on your face occur due to the irritating chemicals within the smoke. Cigarette smoke also reduces the flow of nutrients and oxygen throughout your body, including your skin. This deprives your skin of necessary nourishment resulting in premature aging and a sallow appearance.
4. Sleeping in makeup
Whether you party hard or just work long hours, crashing into bed with a face full of makeup and grime is awful for your skin. Always wash your face before hitting the hay. If you can only manage the bare minimum, keep some pre-moistened facial cleansing wipes on your bathroom counter or nightstand. A few swipes with one of these wipes will remove most of the oil and dirt, allowing your pores to breathe and preventing breakouts.
5. Making poor food and beverage choices
Too much junk and not enough water will show on your skin. The vitamins and minerals in food do more than fuel your body; vitamin E, for instance, is essential for keeping your skin elastic and supple. Hydration is also important.
Too much alcohol and caffeine dehydrate you, making your skin look rough and dull. Your diet doesn’t have to be perfect, but do try to eat a balanced diet that includes plenty of fresh fruit, veggies, proteins and healthy fats most days of the week. Wash it down with plenty of water!
Don’t allow your complexion to fall victim to your own poor habits. No matter your lifestyle, work on banishing these bad-for-you habits for clearer skin and better health overall.