Although we’re not fans of rigid beauty rules — like the one that says we can only wear vampy lipstick in the fall — there are certain guidelines we should prioritize for the sake of healthier skin. Sure, there are “bad” habits that are actually acceptable, like not washing your hair every other day, but others leave a little less wiggle room.
We’re skipping the biggies like biting your nails or using dirty makeup brushes and focusing on a host of under-the-radar habits you probably didn’t know were ruining your skin. With the help of a few experts, we’re here to help you kick them once and for all.
OK, so we’re starting with an obvious one, but seriously; no other habit, regardless of how often you do it, causes worse damage. Plus, we could always use a reminder. According to Dr. Craig Kraffert, board-certified dermatologist and president of Amarte Skin Care, vaping is the easiest way to curb your nicotine habit and eventually quit altogether.
“[Smoking] provides zero beauty benefit — only damage,” he says. “Vaping is not as damaging to the skin as smoking and there is not a great deal of data yet to quantify the relative level of damage that occurs with vaping vs. smoking.”
Not using primer
If you’re a makeup wearer and find that your face is always melting off by lunch, it could be because you’re not properly prepping your skin beforehand. According to Megan Luman, senior Mehron educator and celebrity makeup artist, one of the biggest mistakes she sees both men and women make is not hydrating before they apply foundation and other powder/cream products.
“Most people don’t understand the importance of a primer because no one has ever educated them on it. The skin is the largest organ of your body — therefore, it needs water!,” she says. “So anything you put on your face that contains water, i.e., liquid/cream foundation, you can count on your skin drinking it up.”
Luman recommends using a silicone-based primer, like Mehron’s Velvet Finish Primer, as it better controls oil, fills in lines and even helps products blend more easily. “Silicone is a larger molecule that our skin cannot absorb, so it creates a barrier between the skin and the makeup. So essentially, the two never actually touch.”
Using makeup wipes as a cleanser
If you’re constantly on the go or simply too tired to remove your makeup before bed, know that a makeup wipe isn’t where your cleansing routine should end. In fact, they actually leave residue on the skin and leave it dirtier than it was before. According to Kraffert, a lot of them also contain potentially hazardous chemicals, such as formaldehyde-releasing preservatives, that ensure a long shelf life, but ultimately dry out the skin.
“In Korea, makeup wipes are falling out of favor due to a general sense that they are not the best option for skin health and beauty,” he says. “I would recommend using a proper cleanser, such as Amarte Daily Wonder Cleansing Foam, for a deep cleanse without residual dryness or tightness.”
Assuming makeup with SPF is enough
You’re off to a great start if your makeup products include some level of UV protection, but the downside is that we forget to shield the rest of our body. According to Kraffert, “Although SPF is certainly an added benefit to makeup products such as foundations, the makeup isn’t applied thick[ly] enough and evenly enough in most cases… to key beauty zones — neck, décolleté, hands and arms — to be considered enough protection from the sun’s harmful rays.”
The solution is simple: Invest in a body SPF, like the Amarte Ultra Veil Sunscreen.
Sleeping on your side
Ever wonder why celebrities like Kim Kardashian swear by sleeping on their backs? According to Dr. Jame Heskett, consultant for the antiaging brand HydroPeptide, having your face against a pillow, especially if it’s not silk or satin, actually speeds up the formation of lines and wrinkles.
She says, “Practice just relaxing on the back when you’re awake. Once the body makes the connection between relaxation and body position, it will be easier to fall asleep in that position. If you can’t always sleep on your back, at least combat wrinkles with a powerful antiaging cream, like HydroPeptide’s Nimni Cream, so everything bounces back in the morning.”
Exfoliating every day
You’ll be hard-pressed to find a beauty junkie without his or her trusty facial-cleansing brush, which makes it easy to go overboard with exfoliation. Heskett says when we do this every or even every other day, it throws our skin’s natural bacteria balance out of whack. This, in turn, leads to random breakouts and other pesky skin issues.
“The skin has a natural balance of good bacteria and oils that keep your skin healthy, glowing and youthful,” she says. “When you exfoliate too much, you run the risk of creating an imbalance in the skin, which can lead to redness, dryness and breakouts. Then, more products get thrown at the problem, which starts the vicious cycle all over.”
Instead, keep your exfoliation to one day a week, and if you really want to curb this bad habit, consider shaving. “I know this sounds crazy, but the best exfoliation I’ve found is shaving,” says Heskett. “With a regular razor and shaving cream, shaving your face will remove dead skin cells like expensive spa treatments. And no, you won’t grow a beard.” (LOL, thanks.)
Cleansing with hot water
At the end of a long day, nothing feels better than a steamy shower. Unfortunately, it’s kind of a nightmare for your skin. According to most dermatologists, including Kraffert, hot water “damages skin’s protective barrier and causes engorgement of tiny blood vessels, which may lead to permanently dilated skin blood vessels over time and result in skin ruddiness and uneven tone.”
In fact, avoiding hot water is gospel in what we consider the skin care capital: Korea. So get into the habit of washing your face outside the shower and with a gentle exfoliant instead. “Washcloth exfoliation is hard to control and often misses the mark by creating too much exfoliation with irritation or not enough with suboptimal results,” says Kraffert. “Instead, I would recommend frequently exfoliating with Amarte Daily ExfoliPowder, a plant seed-based polishing cleanser that removes dry, dull skin.”
Great expert tips, right? There’s no time like the present to kick bad-for-you habits and replace them with routines that’ll keep you glowy, healthy and happy.
A version of this article was originally posted in November 2017. It was syndicated from StyleCaster.