You try to take care to not do certain things that you know will mess with your skin — things like popping pimples and sleeping with your makeup on. But there are some more discreet, everyday habits that are messing with your skin that you may not even realize you do. In fact, because it can be so hard to pick out the seemingly minor things you do, especially when you do some of them without even thinking about it, I emailed with an expert who has more insight into these sneaky, harmful habits.
Dr. Joel L. Cohen, Director of AboutSkin Dermatology in Greenwood Village, Colorado let me in on some of the habits we may not realize we do, or may not even realize could be bad for our skin. And actually, some of the habits he highlights are pretty surprising. So whether your concern is with sensitive skin, acne, aging, or even rosacea, Dr. Cohen has a recommendation that could help. Here are 11 everyday habits that could be ruining your skin that you should be aware of. Because these just might be the reason why your skin isn't quite what you hoped it would be.
1. Consuming Skim Milk & Whey Protein
If you're prone to acne, avoiding skim milk and whey protein products could help minimize flareups, says Dr. Cohen. While hormones, genetics, and stress can also play a role in acne flares, narrowing down the possible causes can help get your skin under control. Anecdotal reports seem to indicate some truth in this claim: Bustle's Rachel Krantz noticed an improvement in her skin after she stopped consuming dairy, as did former XoJane writer Annie Tomlin.
2. Not Wearing Or Reapplying Sunscreen
As you probably know, too much sun exposure without protection can lead to premature aging and even skin cancer. But Dr. Cohen revealed that many women forget to apply sunscreen to their hands, ears, chest, and lips. And even those who remember to apply sunscreen to their faces still tend to forget to reapply throughout the day. He recommends finding a sunscreen with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, reapplying every two hours, and making sure that even your makeup contains adequate sun protection.
3. Using Products Just Because They Are "Organic"
"Just because it says 'organic' doesn't mean that you won't be sensitive to the product, or that the product is right for you," says Dr. Cohen. If you have sensitive skin that is prone to developing rashes or irritation, Dr. Cohen suggests looking for "fragrance free" skincare. If you have acne-prone skin, look for "non-comedogenic" skincare. When it comes to products you use on the daily, remember to check the ingredients to see if it will work for you — don't just look for the word "natural" or "organic."
4. Not Frequently Washing Pillowcases & Towels
Pillowcases and towels can harbor oils and bacteria, so using the same one for too long can lead to skin problems such as breakouts. To make sure your linens aren't affecting your skin's health, launder and change them as frequently as possible. Dr. Cohen recommends once or twice per week.
5. Not Cleaning Makeup Brushes
Just like pillowcases and towels, makeup brushes and sponges can also harbor oils and bacteria and therefore also need to be regularly washed — about once a week, according to Dr. Cohen.
6. Not Sanitizing Glasses
If you wear glasses or sunglasses regularly, the nose-piece and any other areas that touch your face could be holding onto oils that could cause breakouts if they are trapped against your skin frequently or for too long. Dr. Cohen recommends cleaning your glasses or sunglasses with alcohol swabs prior to wearing them.
7. Infrequently Replacing Razors
According to Dr. Cohen, moisture can easily be trapped on razors, which can breed bacteria. On top of that, as razors dull over time, shaving with them can cause more irritation than with a fresh razor. To make sure your razor isn't messing with your skin, dry it between uses and sharpen or change the blade regularly.
8. Touching Your Face
Touching your face is such a simple way to spread bacteria and clog your pores. Dr. Cohen warns against falling into the easy position of resting your chin on your hand while working or studying in order to keep your face fresher and cleaner.
9. Not Sanitizing Phones
Your phone is exposed to so much bacteria and germs, and then you let it touch your face. So all of those nasties don't mess with your skin, Dr. Cohen suggests using sanitary wipes on your smartphone (as well as tablets and keyboards for that matter) to keep it and your skin as clean as possible.
10. Consuming Spicy Foods & Alcohol
If you're prone to facial redness or rosacea, Dr. Cohen revealed that warm beverages, spicy foods, and alcohol can aggravate flushing. So if you want to keep the redness toned down, especially before a social event or photo, he recommends avoiding these foods.
11. Touching Limes In The Sun
Here's a crazy one: According to Dr. Cohen, "lime juice can combine with the sun's rays to cause a blistering rash where the lime juice contacted the skin." So for a day at the pool or beach, skip the limes with your mixed drinks or beer to help keep your skin in check.
It's the little things, after all, that can prevent your skin from looking and feeling its best.