Obsess much over your skin? Always forget to take off your makeup before bed? These and other bad beauty habits could be wreaking serious havoc on your skin, and you might not even know it. Wise up in the New Year and take a cue from our experts — here are 10 bad skin care habits to ditch now.
Kick these habits to the curb
Not wearing sunscreen
We know, we know… you've heard it all before. But seriously, start wearing sunscreen (and not just at the beach)! "Exposure to UVA and UVB rays from the sun causes premature aging and, in some cases, even cancer," notes Somme Institute esthetician, Michelle Reid. "Sunscreen of SPF 30 should be applied 20 minutes before going out into the sun and reapplied every hour throughout the day, especially when swimming and sweating. For everyday facial use, look for SPF 15 in your daily moisturizer." Or, better yet, kill two birds with one stone and use a tinted moisturizer with SPF 15, says Reid.
Using products past their expiration date
"Slathering your skin with an expired product is like slathering yourself with cooties," says Melissa Picoli, an esthetician and founder of BijaBody health+beauty. "If product junkies (like myself) promise to discard a product after expiration, us developers can remove the bad preservatives. Active ingredients 'die' after a certain point, and bacteria thrives."
Going to bed without taking off your makeup
By now you probably already know that sleeping in your makeup is a big no-no. Why? Because this clogs pores, causes breakouts, leads to irritation and, of course, dirties up your pillows, notes dermatologist Brooke Jackson, Medical Director of the Skin Wellness Center of Chicago. So while accidents do happen, try not to make this one a habit.
Not changing your sheets
We know you're busy and laundry builds up, but for the body to stay clear of growing bacteria from oils, sweat and dead skin cells, your sheets should be changed at least once a week, says celebrity esthetician and author of Skintervention, Scott-Vincent Borba. Otherwise, look forward to some nasty breakouts!
Not drinking enough water
Want to look like a dried up prune? We didn't think so. "When skin cells are hydrated, your complexion will appear more youthful, taut and less cracked and dry," notes Borba. Additionally, water flushes toxins from the body, which also plays a role in staving off breakouts.
Drinking too much booze
Hitting the bottle every once in a while isn't going to damage your skin, but excess alcohol consumption leads to decreased levels of vitamin A, which is crucial to skin health, notes cosmetic dermatologist Dr. Laura Skellchock. It also increases inflammation, resulting in redness and acne — definitely not a good look.
Obsessing over skin
Quit obsessing! It's not sexy -- plain and simple -- says Belle Visage Day Spa owner Tina Keshishian. "I have the most beautiful girls that can't seem to see their own beauty because they obsess over one tiny pimple. I want to feel bad for them, but I can't. You'll never be happy if you continue to hone in on all the tiny little imperfections."
Taking long, hot showers
"While everyone enjoys basking in a long hot shower, the warm water can strip skin of its natural elements, contributing to dry skin" says Dr. Susan Weinkle, president of the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery. Instead, use lukewarm water the next time you hop in the shower, and your skin will benefit in the long run.
Absentmindedly touching your face
A quick scratch or makeshift head rest here and there is completely understandable, but this New Year, vow to keep your hands off your face as much as possible, advises world-renowned aesthetician Christina Zehavi. Not only does this spread bacteria, which can cause breakouts, it's just not sanitary. Think about all the places your hands have been, and what else they've touched.
Popping, squeezing or picking at pimples
It's always tempting to want to reach up and pop, squeeze or pick that huge zit mounting on your forehead, but in reality, you're only doing more harm than good, says Marina Peredo, M.D., founder of Spatique Medical Spa in Smithtown, New York. This behavior can ultimately lead to discoloration and/or permanent scarring, so hands off ladies.
Watch: How to clean your makeup brushes
Makeup brushes can harbor dirt and bacteria. Watch this video to learn how to properly clean and care for your makeup brushes.