When it draws to our skin, we’re all just out trying to do our best, right? We try out products, wash our faces regularly, moisturize… but it turns out that some of our most persistent habits can be very bad for our skin. The good news is the case that most of them have easy fixes—so you can turn bad habits into good ones.
1. You don’t replace your loofah frequently enough.
“Washcloths and loofahs can harbor bacteria, mold, and yeast, among other harmful things,” says dermatologist Joel Schlessinger, M.D. “Make sure you allow your loofah to dry completely each time and replace it frequently.” For people who use washcloths instead, Schlessinger recommends grabbing a fresh one every day—but don’t use it on your face. “This is very irritating to the skin,” he explains. “and ends up causing dry areas, breakouts, and even shoes.”
2. You don’t moisturize oily, acne-prone skin.
Many of us have learned that if you have oily skin, you shouldn’t use moisturizer the same way people with dry skin do. Nevertheless, that’s not entirely true. “If you’re acne-prone, it’s best to use non-comedogenic products that won’t clog your pores,” says cosmetic physician Stanley Kovak, M.D., founder of the Kovak Cosmetic Center.
He says that drying skin ultimately causes inflammation and increased oil production, which can actually is expected to result in more acne. Essentially, Kovak explains, it’s all about hydration. “Hydrated skin is essential to control acne and keeping a fresh, radiant complexion.”
3. You don’t shower right after a workout.
Sweat becomes easily trapped inside tight-knit clothing, which can be expected to result in acne, irritation, and other problems. Even though you may rush from the gym and work—or even straight home—Schlessinger stresses the importance of showering ASAP.
“Showering after a workout is ideal because the less time bacteria just have to sit on your skin, the better,” Schlessinger says. For the best results, he recommends washing your body with an antibacterial body wash and focusing on areas where your skin touched the exercise equipment, or anywhere you’re prone to breakouts (like your chest and back).
If showering immediately isn’t an option—and of course it isn’t, always—the second-best thing is to change out of your exercise clothes as soon as possible and swipe down your most acne-prone parts with some cleansing wipes, which you can keep in your gym bag as an extra layer of defense.
4. You use a high SPF so you apply less sunscreen (or apply it less frequently).
“People have a tendency to put on less sunblock than what is recommended,” Kovak says. “This means that when they use a tiny amount of SPF 80 sunblock, they’re essentially putting on the equivalent of 20 SPF.”
And using a high SPF doesn’t mean you can go longer without re applying. No matter how high the SPF is, it still needs to be re applied frequently—there really is no such thing as too much sunscreen.
Schlessinger seconds this advice. “The absolute best thing you can be done in your skin is to apply sunscreen every single day,” he advises. “Because many signs of aging are caused or exacerbated by sun damage, sunscreen is the best anti-aging treatment to your skin care routine.”
And on an inherently more important note, Schlessinger also advises that sunscreen is your first line of defense against skin cancer—even if you’re sitting inside all day, you still need sun protection. “Most car, home, and office windows protection against UVB rays,” he explains, “but they leave you unprotected from UVA rays that cause premature signs of aging as well as skin cancer.”
Moral of the story? Wear a broad spectrum every day. That way, you can shield your skin from both UVA and UVB rays.
5. You always shower in the morning.
Showering in the morning is so common—after all. Many of us like to hop out of bed and shower so we feel nice and fresh for the day ahead. However, this routine may be harmful to our skin.
“Showering at night can help you sleep better and keep your sheets cleaner,” says Schlessinger. “By washing off all of the dirt, oil, and impurities that have gathered on your skin throughout the day, you’ll be able to maximize your beauty sleep.” When go to sleep dirty, all that ick from the day is transferred to our bedding, which leads to a cycle of all that ick going right back into our skin.
“Getting a good start in the evening is especially beneficial for allergy sufferers because it washes away the pollen and other impurities you’ve come in contact with throughout the day,” Kovak says.
6. You don’t clean your makeup brushes.
Besides being good for keeping your makeup looks #offset, cleaning your makeup brushes on a regular basis is also a fundamental aspect of a good skin care routine. “If not properly cleaned, makeup brushes can carry hordes of bacteria that can cause serious damage to the skin,”, Schlessinger says. “Not to mention the buildup that gathers on dirty makeup brushes causes them to deteriorate quicker, affecting your makeup application.”
Tragic all around. Nonetheless, the key to avoiding this travesty is simple: Clean your tools regularly. You should spritz your brushes once a week with a cleansing spray and deep clean them once a month with shampoo or gentle soap. Schlessinger says this is the best approach to prevent buildup from causing infection, as well as problems like acne and irritation.
7. You turn to the tanning bed (or sunbathe) to clarify acne.
Countless people with problematic acne have touted the benefits of tanning as a way to clear up acne. According to Kovak, that’s not so dutiful. “While tanning can briefly hide the visible irritation of acne, it can, in fact, make acne worse, as it leads ultimately to dry skin, which promotes more oil production.” And as we all know, more oil production can mean more acne.
Dr. Kovak adds, “Tanning also fosters sweating, which can lead to clogging pores and can cause hyperpigmentation of the skin.” The end results? Your pre-existing acne scars may appear even darker.