How To Stop Sabotaging Your Hair & Skin

Now that we're well into the new year, it's time to evaluate what we can improve in 2016. I'm not here to talk about the kind of resolution that involves abandoning favorite foods or Netflix habits. Today, we need to talk about all the ways you've probably been sabotaging your hair and skin for the past year without even realizing it.

It's true: Even if you have a great beauty routine with the most expensive products, there are tons of small (and not so small) mistakes that we all make on a weekly or even daily basis. Most of us know by now to avoid certain things that take a toll on our skin and hair. Tanning, drinking too much alcohol, smoking, and over-processing your hair are all obvious mistakes that you know you shouldn't do. But what about the innocuous little things that pile up over time? From the moment that you go to bed at night to your morning shower, there are tons of surprising ways you're destroying your hair and skin. And that's even before you leave the house to go to work.

This isn't to scare you but to help you be a little more aware of things you can avoid to help your hair and skin look their best in 2016. So, here are the top 10 things you're probably doing to sabotage your hair and skin every day (and what you should do instead).

1. Not Hydrating Enough

You probably know the importance of drinking enough water every day, and you probably also know you're not doing that (if we're all being really honest with ourselves).

It's not just about drinking water, though. It's also about the other things you're drinking instead: certain beverages like soda and alcohol will dehydrate you and it'll show in your hair and skin.

In 2016, get better at hydration by implementing small changes. Nobody's asking you to go cold turkey on your favorite drinks. Instead, replace soda with sparkling water. Put off your first cup of coffee in the morning until after you've had one or two big glasses of water (and try to cut out the coffee after noon).

Ello Pure BPA-Free Glass Water Bottle, $9.99, Amazon

And finally, alcohol can absolutely destroy your skin's appearance, so if you must imbibe, drink tons of water and follow this helpful guide to drinking without ruining your skin.

2. Compromising Your Beauty Sleep

Obviously, the #1 way people compromise their beauty sleep is by not getting enough. Turn off all of your screens and get your butt into bed at the same time every night, OK?

That said, even if you're getting plenty of sleep you might be surprised to discover all the ways you're messing with your hair and skin while tossing and turning all night. Not only can dirty pillows and pillowcases contribute to greasy hair and pimply skin, but the constant friction against your hair and skin isn't great either. Rectify this situation by switching to silk pillowcases, which are much easier on your hair (goodbye frizz and breakage) and skin (fewer wrinkles). Then remember to wash them every week, and be sure to wash (or just replace) your pillows frequently as well.

Magnificent Pure Silk Pillow Case, $19.95, Amazon

3. Using Dirty Makeup Brushes

If you wear makeup, it's a good idea to use brushes or sponges. You get a more flawless application than you would with fingers. However, you still have to worry about bacteria. Using the same makeup brushes over and over without washing off all the old makeup and bacteria that clings to them is a recipe for bad skin (and possibly even an infection).

I personally try to spend a few minutes every weekend cleaning all of my makeup brushes. It's easy: Just use warm water and a brush shampoo (or your usual cleanser or even baby shampoo) and your fingers to get all that gunk out of your brushes. Then leave them to dry, preferably upside-down. You can also use brush cleaning sprays or wipes in a pinch when you don't have a lot of time in between brush uses (but still make sure to give them a deep cleaning later).

Coastal Scents Makeup Brush Shampoo, $9.99, Amazon

e.l.f. Daily Brush Cleaner, $7.49, Amazon

4. Not Cleaning Your Phone Screen

It's easy to forget, but your phone screen is covered in bacteria. If you tend to break out a lot in the area where you press your phone against your face, that's why.

It's easy to nip this problem in the bud by keeping your phone clean. You can buy anti-bacterial wipes, or just use a paper towel with a touch of hand sanitizer. If you're too lazy for that, just use earbuds or speakerphone for your calls instead of pressing your phone against your face.

Green Tea Cucumber Wireless Wipes, $4.98, Amazon

Germ-X Original Hand Sanitizer, $13, Amazon

5. Not Reading Products' Ingredient Lists

Whether it's your shampoo or your face wash, many of the beauty products that you use daily can be sabotaging your skin and hair without you even realizing it. If you've noticed your skin is feeling extra dry or sensitive lately, or you keep having breakouts, or you keep having bad hair days, it's time to look at your product stash and do a bit of sleuthing.

Specifically, look at the ingredient list. This is something you should do before even purchasing an item. If you see ingredients like SD alcohol or denatured alcohol, fragrance, or sulfates, that could be a sign that that product will dry out or irritate your skin or hair. Even essential oils and other natural ingredients can be irritating for some people, so don't think that just because something has "all-natural" ingredients that it's better. You could totally make your own products out of ingredients that you know your skin likes, though! Check out the DIY face mist guide above, for example.

L'Oreal Paris EverCreme Sulfate-Free Intense Nourishing Shampoo, $4.89, Amazon

Aveeno Fragrance-Free Skin Relief Body Wash, $6.59, Amazon

6. Showering Wrong

Yep, showering, that thing you've been doing multiple times a week for years? You're doing it wrong.

Especially in the winter, too many of us indulge in long, hot showers that wreak havoc on our skin and hair. Try to cut back, but if you can't, try to protect your hair and skin from getting dried out and irritated. I like to wear a soothing, hydrating face mask while I'm in the shower.

Some of my favorite face masks for sensitive skin are First Aid Beauty's Ultra Repair Instant Oatmeal Mask, RE:P Bio Fresh Mask, and TONY MOLY I'm Real Sheet Masks.

First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Instant Oatmeal Mask, $22, Amazon

RE:P Bio Fresh Mask, $41, SokoGlam

Tony Moly I'm Real Facial Mask Sheet Set, $10, Amazon

7. Not Removing Makeup Before Bed

Hello, breakout city! Seriously, if you're wearing makeup and not taking it off before bed, that's one of the worst things you can do to your skin.

If you have a hard time making it to the bathroom sink before passing out, keep a pack of face wipes by the bed. I like to use fragrance-free baby wipes because they're gentle and cheap! If you want to go one step further, Simple Micellar Cleansing Water is great for getting all your makeup off gently but thoroughly.

Seventh Generation Free & Clear Baby Wipes, $14.99, Amazon

Simple Micellar Cleansing Water, $5.97, Amazon

8. Not Wearing SPF Daily

Even in winter, the sun is causing the majority of the damage inflicted on your skin and hair. Ward off signs of damage now by committing to the SPF — you'll thank yourself years down the road.

It doesn't have to be complicated. Choose one of the following and apply it every morning: sunscreen, moisturizer with sunscreen, or a BB cream/foundation with sunscreen. Just make sure it's SPF 30 or higher. Personally I like bareMinerals Complexion Rescue which has SPF 30 and also makes my skin look amazing.

You can also protect your hair and scalp with a hat or a sunscreen spray.

bareMinerals Complexion Rescue Hydrating Gel Cream, $25.50, Amazon

Paul Mitchell Sun Shield Conditioning Spray, $12.84, Amazon

9. Doing Too Much

As someone whose job it is to try new products and write about them, I'm often guilty of this. Introducing too many new products into your beauty routine or overdoing it with a million-step routine every day can end up doing more harm than good. Like, one serum is a great idea but four serums is overkill.

Introduce new products slowly, trying one thing at a time so you'll know what to blame if your hair or skin freaks out. And if you use a lot of products but your hair/skin isn't happy, consider paring things down and see if that helps.

10. Doing Nothing At All

On the other end of the spectrum, if you have absolutely no skincare routine at all, perhaps 2016 is the year to rethink that. Start wearing sunscreen, use a gentle cleanser, and find a moisturizer tailored for your skin, whether it's oily or dry.

Also, a little tip: A dab of jojoba oil (found in health food stores or online) on your face and on the ends of your hair will do wonders for a healthy shine.

Neutrogena Clear Face Sunscreen Lotion, $9.99, Amazon

SkinCeuticals Gentle Cream Cleanser, $24, Amazon

Desert Essence Pure Jojoba Oil, $9.39, Amazon

Now go forth and make 2016 be the year of your shiniest hair and most luminous skin ever!