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10 Ways You Might Be Harming Your Skin

In theory, we all want to take good care of our skin. We’re trying, we really are. But sometimes, we find that no matter how good our routine is or how much we invest in top quality products, we’re not seeing the results we’re after.

There are many reasons the results of a skincare routine might fall short of your expectations, and if you’re really concerned, we’d recommend you visit a doctor or dermatologist. But sometimes, the answer is as simple as self-sabotage.

We can do all kinds of things that are harmful to our skin and not be aware of the damage we’re doing.

Have a look: are you doing any of these damaging things to your skin?


1. Skipping Sunscreen

This shouldn’t have to be said, but it’s number one on this list because it’s still something that’s often a problem. Wearing sunscreen not only protects you from damage from the sun, such as melanoma, but actually prevents other issues too.

If there’s one thing you should really focus on to prevent the signs of aging, it’s using a good SPF as part of your daily routine. If you’re not sure how to choose the right SPF, we can help there, too, but you need to be wearing it.

UVA and UVB rays can penetrate glass and windows, which means even if you’re indoors, the sun can have a harmful effect on your skin.


2. Not Cleaning Your Essentials

This is one of those things that we’re prone to forgetting to do, but it’s simple to fix.

The fact of the matter is, we spend enormous amounts of time each day on our smartphones (a problem in itself thanks to blue light). Which means we transfer every bit of bacteria on our hands to our phones, which we then hold up to our faces. Similarly, glasses and sunglasses can harbour bacteria when not kept clean, and all of this combined can lead to irritation and breakouts as these items come into contact with our faces.

Luckily, it’s a quick fix to prevent problems from occurring. Use disinfectant wipes to wipe clean your smartphone and glasses daily. Or try using earphones instead!


3. Shaving & Waxing

shaving razor on a white surface, potted plant in background

Many women (and men!) love the feeling of freshly shaved and waxed legs (and faces). But is it damaging your skin?

The answer is yes, sometimes. While shaving in men and women can lead to razor bumps, ingrown hairs, rashes and redness, waxing can be just as bad. By creating tiny tears in the skin as we remove the hair, waxing can leave our skin vulnerable to infection and bacteria.

To reduce the risk, exfoliate before shaving or waxing, whether it’s your face, your legs or your underarms. Don’t apply heavy products afterward unless they’re specifically produced to after shaving or waxing, and when using a razor, always ensure the blades are sharp and clean.


4. Overusing Products

Whether you’re a teen, in your thirties or beyond, we’ve all been tempted to slather products on when we break out. Or maybe you’ve been wearing more make-up than usual lately, and you’ve grown lax (or overdone it) with your removal routine.

Either way, overusing any kind of product isn’t a good idea. When it comes to cleansing, you might be removing the natural oils and protective barrier from your skin. Applying too many restorative products afterward can lead to a build-up of serums and moisturisers that only serves to block pores and exacerbate the problem.

Try to stick to the instructions on your products and use only the recommended amount each morning and night. It might not seem like the fastest way to clear up your skin, but we can assure you it’s the best thing you can be doing.


5. Exfoliating Too Much

Following on from overusing products, many of us can be tempted to over-exfoliate when we break-out, or even more often if we feel like we’re not seeing the results we want.

This couldn’t be further from helpful. Too much exfoliation and scrubbing will remove the natural oils from your skin, leaving it dry and irritated and without the protective barrier that it relies on. To compensate, the chances are that your skin’s response will be to overproduce sebum (oil), which can lead to a shiny appearance and, of course, further blocked pores and more breakouts.


6. Squeezing Spots

Whether you find it satisfying or disgusting, pimple popping isn’t something you should do, ever. It doesn’t matter if you feel better about it short term, you’ve got to think bigger. By breaking the surface of your skin, you’re exposing the vulnerable lower layers to not only regular dirt and bacteria, but all the everyday dirt on your hands and nails.

Simply put, it’s better to leave that acne alone. Instead, look for over-the-counter solutions such as products containing salicylic acid. And if your spots are really bothering you and don’t clear up on their own, seek help from a dermatologist.


7. Alcohol

Glass on window sill with ice, leaves and straw, next to potted plant

We know you don’t want to hear it, but it has to be said. Alcohol is doing more than damaging your liver. It’s damaging your skin too.

Going heavy on the booze can quickly lead to dried out, dehydrated skin. No matter how you choose to look at it, alcohol is a toxin, and it’s likely making your skin pale, dull, and opening up your pores (and not in a good way).

While we’re at it, smoking isn’t helping either. But that’s for another time.


8. Diet

closeup of person holding tray at waist with 2 burgers and fries

When we say diet, we don’t mean life on the lettuce. However, heavy greasy food like burgers, chips and fried food are definitely influencing more than just your weight.

In fact, every single thing you put into your body is affecting your skin. There’s a reason we say that we are what we eat: because it’s true. Our body uses food to create the building blocks of our cells, blood, bones – you name it. If you make those building blocks with sub-par products, then you’ll get sub-par results.

Cut back on the grease and opt for something green when you can. Where possible, look for foods with antioxidants like blueberries, leafy greens, tomatoes and raspberries.


9. Hot Showers

We’ve put this one last, because it’s the one we want to give up the least… but it’s true. Satisfying as they may be, hot showers (and baths, for that matter) are doing absolutely nothing to improve your skin.

Quite the opposite, as hot water strips your skin of its natural oils, causing it to dry out and feel tight and uncomfortable.

Instead, try to turn the temperature down and keep showers as short as you can. When you’re done, make sure you remember to moisturise not just your face, but your body, and you’ll soon find yourself feeling hydrated again.