Drinking lots of water, exercising, and eating well: these are the good habits that have been drilled into everyone’s head since time immemorial. And it’s true: these good habits can often lead to a pretty healthy complexion. But most people have to deal with bad habits that damage skin too.
Some bad habits have a pretty obvious effect on your appearance. For instance, over-plucking your brows, biting your nails, or picking your split ends can lead to some less-than-stellar selfies. But some daily habits that age your skin are more difficult to pinpoint. If dark circles, wrinkles, age spots, or red blotches keep bugging you, one of your habits may be to blame. Don’t worry: coffee is not one of these habits. I advocate coffee at all times.
Indeed, there are some surprising findings that suggest what you do in the shower and the bedroom may also age your skin. So does this mean you have to seal yourself in an airlock chamber to keep your skin looking young? Nah. Fortunately, most of these routines are well worth breaking, and you may improve your overall health as well as your complexion. So ditch these nasty habits today to help your skin stay fresh and youthful for many years to come.
1. Not Getting Enough Sleep
Apparently “beauty sleep” isn’t just an empty phrase. Not getting enough sleep each night can lead to dark undereye circles the following morning. But a lack of shut eye can have more long term effects as well. Dr. Brian Zelickson, a Minneapolis-based dermatologist, told DailyMakeover.com that sleep deprivation produces an abundance of cortisol, which can, “increase inflammation and break down collagen leading to lines, wrinkles and an increase in acne formation.” To keep the wrinkles at bay, set a regular bedtime and stick to it. And it you find yourself lying awake for hours after lights-out, try implementing the 4-7-8 sleep hack into your routine.
Exfoliation feels heavenly, but it can quickly become too much of a good thing. According to Dr. Ben Johnson, dermatologist and founder of Osmosis Skincare, scrubbing at your skin too much may actually speed up the aging process and leave your skin dry, red, and itchy. Not the complexion you want. To reap the benefits of exfoliating without the risk, the American Academy of Dermatology recommends using just your fingertips to wash your face.
3. Skimping on Sunscreen
Turns out, your mom was helping when she coated you in SPF 50 as a child. The Cleveland Clinic notes that sunburn actually damages skin cells and blood vessels, which, overtime, results in discolored, dry, wrinkled skin. (If that doesn’t scare you into wearing sunscreen, this video will.) As annoying as it may be, the best way to combat looking like a leather handbag is to wear sunscreen whenever you step outside. The American Academy of Dermatology suggests applying SPF 30 – or higher – to any area of skin that isn’t covered by clothes.
4. Snacking on Sugar
You may want to think twice before indulging your afternoon sweet tooth. According to a 2007 study in the British Journal of Dermatology, sugar produces advanced glycation end products molecules that weaken collagen and elastin, increasing the appearance of wrinkles. Now, this doesn’t mean you have to give up desserts forever. Just start paying attention to your sugar intake (I’m not just talking cookies and candy bars), and consider swapping your nightly treat for a low-sugar dessert
If busted lungs and bad breath weren’t enough to get you to quit, consider all the ways smoking ruins your appearance. From discoloration to dry patches to scarring, there are a myriad of ways that lighting up hurts your complexion. Obviously quitting smoking isn’t easy, but the long term benefits make the challenge worth it.