6 Common Hygiene Mistakes You're Probably Making

by Carina Wolff

When it comes to personal hygiene, most of us are pretty well-versed in how often to take a shower or how to properly wash our undergarments. However, it turns out there are a lot of other things to think about, and it's possible we are making some common hygiene mistakes and don't even realize it. No matter how clean we think we might be, a few important practices might be slipping through the cracks.

"Sometimes people are simply just not very well informed about proper personal hygiene techniques," says Nesochi Okeke Igboke, MD, MS over email. "For example, in regards to proper hand washing technique, most people are not aware of the appropriate length of time needed to wash their hands and effectively fight off germs. The bottom line is that we should all become well informed and educated about practicing good hygiene techniques and then continue to maintain these good habits to remain as healthy as possible."

No one's perfect when it comes to personal care, but the more you know, the better you can keep yourself free of unwanted bacteria, breakouts, or even illness. If you're looking to clean up your habits a bit, consider these six common hygiene mistakes you may be making.

1. Exfoliating Daily

It can be tempting to want to thoroughly cleanse your face daily, but exfoliating so frequently can do more harm than good. "It is important to exfoliate a couple times a week, but daily use can damage your skin," says dermatologist Tsippora Shainhouse MD, FAAD over email. "It can irritate sensitive and acne-prone skin, can make your face look more red, and some products can cause tiny tears in the skin."

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2. Brushing But Not Flossing

Most of us know the importance of dental hygiene, but only 50 percent of Americans floss daily, according to the American Dental Association. "Flossing is just as important as brushing, " says dentist Dr. Matthew Nejad over email. "By not flossing, you are missing about 30 percent of the surfaces of your teeth. Flossing is also essential to getting rid of bacteria beneath the gumline and preventing gingivitis, bad breath, and gum recession.

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3. Sharing Makeup

We've all done it: You forgot your mascara for a night out, so you use your friend's instead. "Sharing makeup especially mascara, eyeliners, and eye shadows is a huge no no," says Igbokwe. "It may seem harmless to borrow a friend's makeup on a night out, but it is an easy way of introducing bacteria into the eyes and getting an infection."

4. Not Cleaning Commonly-Used Household Objects

You may keep your house tidy, but have you forgotten about some important, but often-neglected areas? "There are specific household objects that are breeding grounds for bacteria," says Igbokwe. "These objects include the remote control, doorknobs, keyboards, smartphones, and shower heads. Remember to routinely clean these objects to protect yourself against germs and infection."

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5. Not Showering Right After A Workout

Most of us at one time or another have lounged around in our workout clothes post-gym, but this can wreak havoc on your skin. "Sweat easily becomes trapped inside tight-knit clothing, leading to acne, irritation, and other problems," says board-certified dermatologist and Real Self Advisor Dr. Joel Schlessinger over email. "Showering after a workout is ideal because the less time bacteria have a chance to sit on your skin, the better. If showering isn’t an option, change out of your exercise clothes as soon as possible."

6. Leaving Your Brushes In Your Makeup Bag

"Makeup bags are often coated in left-behind products," says Sarah Mohamed, bridal makeup artist at Blushing Brides Boston over email. "Even the cleanest tools and brushes become germ-ridden in an unsanitized makeup bag. If you're bringing your makeup on-the-go, ensure you’re keeping their transportation items sanitized at all times."

Picking up on these habits will ensure you avoid as many germs as possible and will keep your body functioning optimally, without risk of infection or breakouts.

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