14 Sneaky Little Habits That Are Ruining Your Skin

I'm sure you know the basics of a good skincare routine — wash your face, put on moisturizer, and try not to have a pick-fest in the bathroom mirror. (Check, check, and check.) And yet, sometimes little bad habits can sabotage your skin, even when you feel like you're doing everything right. Cue mysterious, stubborn blackheads, and out-of-left-field acne.

For this very reason, breakouts that crop up for no reason can be incredibly frustrating. If you're taking great care of your skin, then why are bright red zits and painful cysts still lurking? Well, a lot of acne is out of your control, whether you have good habits or not. According to WebMD.com, acne can strike those switching birth control methods, and it often rides the hormone waves (read: PMS) right to your cheeks and forehead.

Hormones and PMS aside, the acne that pops up "despite doing everything right" is usually lifestyle-related. Same goes for fine lines, dry skin, and irritation. That's because skin is a fickle thing, and seems to be affected by everything under the sun. A night spent sleeping in your makeup, the touch of a dirty phone, and a few too many pumps of moisturizer can all wreak a surprising amount of havoc.

So yes, skin problems can come out of nowhere, but they aren't actually all that mysterious. Here are a few sneaky ways bad habits can have a major impact on your skin.

1. Washing Way Too Much

It might feel like a good idea to scrub your skin within an inch of its life. But if it's red and tight-feeling afterward, you could be doing more harm than good. As Beth Shapouri said on Glamour, "If your skin gets red and blotchy after washing your face in the morning, you could be stripping away your natural protective oils." To avoid irritation, start rinsing with plain water (no cleanser) in the morning, and see if that helps calm skin down.

2. Skipping Breakfast And Lunch

When you're busy, usually the first thing to fall by the wayside is a regular meal schedule. I mean, who has time for breakfast or lunch when you're a busy woman on the go? Well, basic nutrition aside, there are skin-related reasons why you should (finally) sit down and eat. As Carly Cardellino noted Cosmopolitan, "... constantly missing meals can cause your skin to age faster and dry out more quickly." So spare yourself the hunger pangs, as well as the dry the skin, and start making healthy meals a priority.

3. Going Crazy With The Exfoliator

Just like with over-washing, it can feel like the grittier the exfoliator, the better. I personally love to get in there with some extra grainy face scrubs, as I love the feel of my skin when it's super clean and shiny. But, as Faith Xiu noted on Byrdie.com, over-exfoliating can lead to skin inflammation, leaving it red and irritated rather than smooth and radiant. And if you have sensitive skin? It can be even worse. So stick to gentler exfoliants, and only use them once or twice a week.

Try: NUXE Gentle Exfoliating Gel, $24, Amazon

4. Touching Skin Throughout The Day

If you're in the habit of rubbing your face, or leaning on your hands, then stop it right now. According to Cardellino, touching your skin can trigger new breakouts, exacerbate existing acne, and even cause scarring. (Yikes.) To prevent this, get in the habit of keeping your hands away from your face. And don't ever, ever pick your skin.

5. Combining Too Many Products

When it comes to skincare, the more isn't always the merrier. As Shapouri said, "There are plenty of skin-nourishing ingredients out there, but trying to go for them all at once could be messing up your face." This is especially the case when you pile on multiple active ingredients like acne treatments and alpha hydroxy acid, which can cause bad irritation.

6. Forgetting To Shower After Exercising

If you're like me, going to the gym occurs in that one little tiny window of time between the 55,000 other commitments and errands. So finding time to shower? Not so likely. But as Tiffany Tse said Refinery29.com, not showering after working out can lead to some major breakouts. So be sure to shower, or at the very least clean off sweat with toner and a cotton ball once you're done working out.

7. Sharing Makeup With Friends

Yes, I get it — it's very fun to have a little makeup party with friends. But if you're circled around a pile of lipsticks and mascaras, all dipping into the same pot, your makeup can become as germ-infested as a double dipped bowl of salsa. (Gross.) And as Cardellino said, when you share makeup, you run the risk of getting a skin or eye infection, cold sores, and even conjuctivitis (pink eye.) Definitely not worth it.

8. Going Overboard With The Moisturizer

This can be a case of "too much of a good thing." While moisturizing feels so good, applying too much doesn't exactly make it work better. In fact, as Xiu said, over-moisturizing can make your skin lazy, which means it will lose the ability to adjust to its environments (hot, cold, windy, etc.) Basically, your skin can become addicted to moisturizer, and can even go into withdrawal. So stick to only applying a small amount in the morning, and don't reapply until you go to bed.

9. Applying Makeup With Dirty Tools

Makeup tools are sort of like pillowcases — we use them everyday, and yet washing them doesn't always feel entirely obvious. And, just like pillowcases, makeup tools can collect all sorts of oil and dirt, and this can affect skin. Use this as a reminder to throw your pillowcase in the laundry, and then go clean your makeup brushes, too. You should also get in the habit of rinsing them after every use, as suggested by Tse.

Try: Japonesque Makeup Brush Cleaner, $11, Amazon

10. Using The Same Germ-Ridden Wash Cloth

If you use a wash cloth on your face, be sure to toss it in the laundry after every use. (Yes, every use.) That's because wash clothes get heavily soiled, according to Shapouri. And since they also have a long dry time, they sit around all day breeding bacteria and mold. Then, you come along and unknowingly rub it on your face, which doesn't exactly do skin any favors. Hence the strict everyday laundry rule.

11. Talking On Your Phone Nonstop

We are always on our phones; smashing them into our faces and holding them there for hours. This is a surefire way to push bacteria into the skin, which can lead to breakouts and rashes on your cheek and jawline, according to Cardellino. The best way to prevent such catastrophe is to clean your screen daily with an antibacterial wipe, such as Well Kept Screen Cleansing Wipes. Also, try not to hold your phone against your skin, or consider using headphones instead.

12. Switching Products Too Often

It is incredibly tempting to try out all the "latest and greatest" the beauty industry has to offer. But there is something to be said for sticking to your same old routine, despite all the hype. In fact, people with great skin often achieve it by sticking to a consistent routine, noted Sarah Gaynes on BuzzFeed. All the more reason to stay out of the beauty aisle.

13. Sipping On Too Much Coffee

When you're guzzling down coffee, I bet the last thing on your mind is how it's affecting your skin. But sadly, it does, and it's worth thinking about. As Cardellino noted, the caffeine in coffee is dehydrating, which can lead to dry and dull skin, as well as more pronounced fine lines. So if you want hydrated, dewy skin, don't go overboard with your morning lattes.

14. Falling Asleep With Makeup On

Last but not least is the classic sleep-in-your-makeup routine. By now we all know that doing so can clog pores and lead to acne. But did you know sleeping in makeup also causes unnecessary exposure to free radicals? According to Simone Kitchens on HuffingtonPost.com, your makeup attracts nasty things like pollution throughout the day. And when you don't wash makeup off at night, you essentially let it simmer for way longer than it should. This can lead to a break down of collagen, as well as fine lines. So yes, all the more reason to scrub up at night, even when you're super tired.

All it takes is being a big more vigilant when it comes to your bad habits. Do you over-moisturize? Has it been years since you washed those makeup brushes? These bad habits are all easily fixed, and they may just be what was standing between you and clear, healthy skin.

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