11 Habits You Didn’t Know Could be Damaging Your Skin

Whether you’re dealing with acne, pigmentation, or a bit of dullness, skin problems can sometimes feel out of our control. Even if you follow the standard “cleanse-tone-moisturise” rule, blemishes and the like can still find their way to the surface. There are several possible reasons behind this — be it hormones, genetics, your diet or even your regimen. If you’re still struggling to understand why your skin issues won’t go away, perhaps you should take a step back and examine your habits. Some seemingly harmless parts of your lifestyle could be damaging your skin without you even realising it.

Not re-applying sunscreen

You already know that wearing sunscreen is one of the golden rules of skincare, but it’s not enough to slather it on in the morning and call it a day. Whether you’re indoors in front of a screen, outdoors, perspire a lot, or going swimming, it’s important to re-apply your sunscreen to prevent sun damage. This is because the formula tends to get broken down by exposure to daylight and other elements like sweat and water. For easy application, you can go for powder sunscreen or spray-types, which won’t mess with your make-up. If you aren’t wearing make up, you can reapply your regular sunscreen.

Exposing your skin to too much blue light

Blue light doesn’t just come from the sun. It also doesn’t just cause harm to your eyes, there’s more! As per research, these rays can also come from devices we use [1]. This includes your laptop and the phone that you’re probably reading this on. When exposed long-term, blue light energy can lead to a plethora of skin issues such as inflammation, weakening of the skin barrier, color changes, and premature aging. If you can, try to limit your screen time. Get outside and take breaks in between those Zoom meetings and deadlines! For added measure, you can also put anti-blue light screen protectors on your gadgets, or even wear a mineral sunscreen with Zinc Oxide. This ingredient ensures your skin is shielded from blue light rays (and UV rays too!).

Touching your phone too much

Nowadays, we’re pretty inseparable from our phones. But when was the last time you gave your device a good cleaning? Unfortunately, our phone screens are where dirt, oil, and make-up come together to clog pores. Couple this with the pressure from the phone surface, and it could cause what is known as acne mechanica. But wait, no need to give up the digital life just yet, but it is important to clean your phone regularly and consider using wireless earphones when making calls.

Using rough pillowcases

Breakouts can happen while you sleep if your face is pressed into a rough pillowcase for hours. According to many dermatologists, this friction can cause trauma to the skin and create permanent creases [2]. Be even more wary of pillowcases made of synthetic fibres like polyester, as this can be rougher on the skin. Instead, swap them out for satin or silk pillowcases, which are gentler and softer. Don’t forget to wash them once a week to prevent residue from building up.

Over-exfoliating your face

It’s tempting to scrub your face spotless, but being too harsh may irritate your skin and lead to micro-tears. This trauma can trigger more melanin (brown pigment) production and lead to uneven skin tone. For best results, just ditch the rigorous scrubbing altogether. The best way to wash is to do it gently with your finger tips. Pat, don’t rub dry. If exfoliation is your goal, read and learn if physical or chemical one is a better option for you.

Coping with stress through vices

When you’re stressed, hormones are released into the body — triggering the production of oil and increasing the likelihood of acne. And when this excess oil starts to clog your pores and mix with bacteria, it’s nothing but a recipe for inflammation. It helps to have a go-to anti-stressor, like meditation or taking morning strolls to relax yourself. Turning to vices such as smoking and alcohol isn’t just a bad habit, but it can upset your skin too. Of course, this doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the occasional margarita — just make sure to keep it at a minimum and not something you turn to every time you get stressed.

Wearing the wrong clothes

It doesn’t matter if you’re running a Spartan race or attending 30-minute yoga, any activity that anticipates sweat and friction needs the right clothes to prevent body acne and irritation. Choose fabrics that are breathable and dry away quickly so they don’t block your pores. While you’re at it, try not to rub your sweat away and use a gentle patting motion to dry instead. But most importantly: don’t skip the showers after a sweat session and avoid spraying too much perfume or deodorant over sweat.

Using harsh hair products

Your hair product can affect more than your tresses. If you’re seeing acne around your forehead, hairline, neck, or back, your hair products could be the culprit. While there’s no harm in wearing your hair down, at least try to keep it off your face as much as possible. And just like your face, it’s good to wash your hair at night so you can keep the oils and products from transferring to your sheets and onto your face.

Putting products in jars

Another habit that seems harmless, using products in jars can actually render the formula ineffective. For example, anti-aging products contain antioxidants, which deteriorate after constant exposure to air and light. If using a jar, then this exposure to environmental elements is inevitable with every use. If you’re the type to transfer products, don’t. Keep them in their original packaging — they’re there for a reason!

Exfoliating flakey skin

If your skin is dry, the first thing you’ll notice is flakiness. However, resist the urge to slough away those rough patches because this can disrupt the barrier that maintains moisture balance in your skin. Instead of exfoliating right away, combat the dryness with hydration instead. Go for unscented creams with nourishing ingredients like glycerin and cocoa butter, which will soothe roughness and leave your skin feeling soft again.

Trying too many products at once

No doubt that consumers these days are spoiled for choice when it comes to skincare products. But before you excitedly hop on the next skincare trend, be careful not to combine potent ingredients — especially if it’s your first time trying them. Dermatologists warn that using too many actives, for instance, can disrupt the skin barrier and cause acne, perioral dermatitis, eczema, and exacerbate rosacea symptoms [3]. On the other hand, you should also be aware not to mix retinol with acids, as this can lead to painful irritation. Don’t forget: always do a patch test!


[1] - WebMD - Exposing Effects of Blue Light On Skin

[2] - VeryWell Health - The 7 Best Silk Pillowcases for Hair and Skin of 2021

[3] - Huffington Post - How To Know If You're Using Too Many Skincare Products

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