11 Potentially Bad Skin Habits & How To Break Them

I'm sure you know the basics of good skin care — wash your face, don't fall asleep in your makeup, and try not to eat too much greasy food. Avoid these bad skincare habits, and you should have totally healthy skin, right?

Well, the answer is yes and no. While it's a good idea to cleanse nightly, it is possible to go overboard with the washing. And while it's totally noble that you scrub off your makeup, all of that foundation and blush isn't the only thing that can lead to breakouts. Same goes for the greasy food. (More on that sad fact below.)

Although it's a totally worthy cause, skin care goes well beyond simply preventing zits. You need to keep in mind all ends of the spectrum, from dry skin and eczema, to sun damage and even skin cancer. We don't always think about it, but the skin is the largest organ of the body, according to WebMD. So it definitely deserves some attention. 

So if you've been diligently taking care of your skin, but still have breakouts, read on. And if you're worried about sneaky little habits that are ruining your skin's health — ones that go beyond cosmetic-related issues — then the info below is definitely worth checking out.

1. Taking Long, Hot Showers

There's nothing better than a long, hot shower. But for the sake of your skin, you may not want to luxuriate too long. "The longer the shower and hotter the water, the more drying it is for the skin," says Dr. Lotika Singh of Schweiger Dermatology Group in New York, in an email to Bustle. "This can cause itching or sometimes even flare eczema."

How To Break The Habit

Like it or not, you're going to have to take shorter showers. "I tell patients to set a timer on their phone and also find other ways to use the saved time to relax and de-stress," Lotika says. It may not be as wonderful, but your skin will thank you.

2. Over-Washing Your Face 

Like I said above, it really is possible to overdo it with the soaping and scrubbing. This is especially true if your skin feels tight or dry afterward. As Catherine Devine said on Allure, "If your skin is dry skin, lather up less often, since doing so strips away natural oils."

How To Break The Habit

Skip washing your face in the morning, and simply splash on some water. Then save the actual cleansing for nighttime, when you want to get rid of your makeup, dirt, and oils. Try using a creamy or oil-based cleanser, according to Devine, since they're gentler on skin.

3. Talking On Your Phone

I think we can all agree texting is way better than actually talking on the phone. And I think we can also agree how horrifying it is when someone calls you back after you text them. (No, just no!) But here's another reason why texting is better than actually talking — phone germs and your face do not mix well. "The touch-screen trend has caused a rise in acne in the phone zone: temples, cheeks, and chin," said Nicole Catanese on Cosmopolitan. Chat for too long, and you're bound to get pimples.

How To Break The Habit

In a perfect world, we could all stick to texting. But when actually talking on the phone, use a headset, or your headphones, to keep that germ-y, oily screen well away from your face.

4. Eating Too Much Dairy 

If I had my way, I'd have dairy for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Give me pizza, and maybe a few fro-yos per day, and I'd be totally happy. But my skin wouldn't be. "You’d be surprised how much impact dairy has on the skin," said Aly Walansky on StyleCaster.com. "Inflammation-causing dairy can wreak havoc on cystic acne sufferers.” OK, maybe not worth it.

How To Break The Habit

Trade up your constant dairy habit for some non-dairy options, like almond milk. I've heard many people moan that it doesn't taste as good in their coffee, or on cereal. But once your tastebuds change, you'll be hooked. I promise.

5. Skipping The Sunscreen

If you're like me, then you save sunscreen for days at the beach. But even small amounts of sun exposure, like when you're walking to work, can cause all sorts of problems. Think wrinkles, sunburns, and maybe even skin cancer, according to WebMD. That's why you have to cover up, and protect your skin every single day.

How To Break The Habit

Get obsessive about sunscreen. "Wear a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 every day. Slather it on, even on cloudy days. Errands, driving, walking your dog … anything outside requires sunscreen," said Sonya Collins on WebMD. Look for the broad-spectrum kind that protects from both UVA and UVB rays, and keep it on your bathroom counter so you remember to reapply on each morning. 

6. Never Getting Any Sleep

Everyone has the best of intentions when it comes to going to bed early, but then life gets in the way (in the form of Netflix, mostly). Besides feeling totally awful come morning, a lack of sleep can really start to take its toll on your skin, according to an article on EverydayHealth.com. Think along the lines of puffiness, wrinkles, and sunken eyes.

How To Break The Habit

Easy — go to bed earlier. And resist the urge to get sucked into a two-hour long documentary by turning off your laptop well before bedtime. Aim for about seven to nine hours of sleep per night, according to the National Sleep Foundation, and you should be feeling — and looking — much better.

7. Picking At Your Skin 

When it comes to bad skin habits, this one is really at the top. "There are many reasons for not picking pimples," Walansky said. "It can lead to scarring of the face and if aggressive enough, you will end up with pock marks or hyper-pigmentation (dark spots) on your face ... [And] all that pressure on a pimple that is not ready to be extracted can lead to a rupture below the skin surface, which in turn will lead to more breakouts."

How To Break The Habit

First things first, stop inspecting your skin in the mirror. Squeezing one blackhead almost always leads to squeezing two, and before long your face is inflamed and far worse than it would have been. So save the picking for the professionals, who can extract pimples the right way. 

8. Walking Around With A Scowl

Of course if you're unhappy, you probably have bigger worries than the state of your face. But walking around with a permanent frown isn't the best for you skin. "Being unhappy creates bad facial posture — a frown, pursed lips, and tense facial muscles," said New York dermatologist Doris Day, MD, in an interview with Collins.

How To Break The Habit

Even if you're feeling fine, some people's faces rest naturally in a frown position. If that's the case for you, try moving your ears back without touching them, Day suggested. It helps relax the face muscles. I just tried it, and could feel the tension release from my face. Pretty cool.

9. Never Getting A Mole Check

A lot of skin care is focused on the face, but of course the rest of your body needs to be taken care of, as well. One of the best things you can do for your entire epidermis is getting a mole check each year. A dermatologist will look in all your nooks and crannies, and decide if anything questionable needs to be removed, noted Devine. 

How To Break The Habit

Be diligent about making a dermatologist appointment every year. "If you're forgetful, schedule it near events you'll remember, like your anniversary or birthday ... Mole checks are nonnegotiable, no matter how good you think you are about self-exams," Devine said.

10. Using Too Many Products 

Again, when it comes to taking care of your skin, more isn't always better. And that applies to skincare products, too. "Sometimes, active ingredients cancel one another out. Other times, they double up and cause irritation or skin damage," noted Julie Giusti on Glamour.

How To Break The Habit

Check with your dermatologist, or do some research online, before slathering on your creams and causing irritation. "The biggest culprits: retinol, glycolic acid (a.k.a AHAs), vitamin C and benzoyl peroxide — avoid layering them, or at least try to use them at different times of day," Giusti suggested. 

11. Not Washing Up After The Gym

When you leave the gym, you'll undoubtedly be glistening with that post-workout sweat. Revel in your glow for a moment or two, and then go wash your face. Letting that makeup, dirt, and bacteria linger can cause breakouts, dullness, and even wrinkles over time, according to Devine.

How To Break The Habit

Remember to wash your face after your workout, or at the very least remove sweat with a face wipe. "A single towelette removes a day's worth of grime, and you won't need to haul yourself to the sink," noted Devine. It's really as easy as that.

Make a few of these tweaks to your habits, and you'll have the healthiest, zit-less, sunburn-free around. 

Images: Pexels (12)

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