5 Ways Your Daily Routine May Be Harming Your Skin
Everything from your commute to how you take your coffee could be having a surprising effect on your skin.
By Alexis Farah
Medically Reviewed by Bhargavi Patham, MD, PhD
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At the first sign of acne, psoriasis, or other skin conditions, our gut instinct is to conceal the symptoms or look for a quick-fix solution. But doing a simple audit of your everyday habits could reveal what is actually behind your skin problems.
Here are some of the top culprits that can harm your skin, along with expert-approved tips for maintaining a clear, healthy complexion without overhauling your lifestyle.
Culprit No. 1:Your Pillowcase
Here's how:While that fluffy bed may seem like a safe retreat after a long day, it can be anything but for facial skin. “When you allow your pillowcases to remain unlaundered, you risk a buildup of hair product residue, dirt, makeup residue, dead skin cells, and oil to transfer to your skin,” says Dendy Engelman, MD, a dermatologist at Manhattan Dermatology & Cosmetic Surgery in New York City. Letting this kind of film develop could lead to breakouts or exacerbate other skin conditions.
And don't think you're off the hook if you wash your face before bed. Face-planting into unclean sheets and pillowcases can undo all the good of skin cleansing.
The solution:Dr. Engelman recommends washing your pillowcases every other week — unless a full face of makeup hits the pillow one night, in which case you should swap them out as soon as possible.
Culprit No. 2:The Telephone
Here's how:Studies have shown that the phone you’re using is probably crawling with germs that can transfer to your face. “Bacteria and pressure [from holding the phone close] can cause inflammation that can exacerbate acne, rosacea, eczema, psoriasis, and more,” Engelman says.
The solution:Clean handhelds regularly with an antibacterial wipe like Dickinson’s Original Witch Hazel Towelettes. Using a headset will minimize the phone-on-skin contact, but Engelman suggests wiping down the headset as well.
Culprit No. 3:Touching Your Face
Here's how:Whether it's because we’re tired, bored, or in deep thought, many of us have a habit of resting our head on our hands. Well, don’t do it. “The mechanical pressure of the hands on the skin, or the occlusion [blockage] of sweat ducts, can lead to breakouts,” Engelman says.
The solution:The next time you catch yourself touching your chin or cheek, think about the bacteria, viruses, and allergens you may be spreading from your fingers to your face. If you rest your face on your hands because you’re feeling sluggish, then take a brisk walk. It’ll help stimulate circulation and .
Culprit No. 4:The Daily Commute
Here's how:Many people think that being diligent about sun safety ends when they step off the beach, but those rays can damage your skin when you’re sitting in the car. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, dermatologists have found that patients in the United States who spend a lot of time behind the wheel often have more sun damage on the left side of their bodies and faces. That’s because a driver’s left side is more exposed to UVA radiation coming through the car window.
The solution:Don’t treat your skin any differently when you’re in the car. Applying sunscreen — SPF 30 or higher — can protect exposed areas like your arms, hands, face, and neck. It’s especially important to use sunscreen during the sun’s peak hours from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Engelman says. Try Colorescience Sunforgettable Mineral Sunscreen Brush SPF 50, which can easily be applied and reapplied in the car (even over makeup). Protective clothing, like long sleeves and hats, can also shield your skin.
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