7 Things That Mess Up Your Skin

By Violet Smith

Late nights. Hard partying. Yo-yo dieting. It’s the lifestyle of many young people, but the bad habits of our youth can take a toll on our face years later. In fact, it’s precisely such reckless behavior that can impact skin long-term.

“My average patient is in her late 30s or early 40s and feels that in her 20s, she didn’t do all she could to take care of her skin,” says Heidi Waldorf, M.D., associate clinical professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York. “Now she’s trying to live a healthier lifestyle. She wants to look like the best version of herself.”

Adds Waldorf, who also has an A-list dermatology practice in New York City: “It still does amaze me – the number of people who don’t recognize the damage they are doing to their skin.”

The good news is that keeping your skin looking youthful isn’t so difficult, as long as you start remedying these 7 bad habits now:

1. Smoking

As if smoking doesn’t cause enough problems, it also takes a toll on your face. “People say, ‘I just smoke socially.’ Well, [that’s enough to] damage your skin!” Waldorf says. “It’s the development of free radicals and then there’s the repetitive puckering. Add the facial lines to the damage done to your insides.”

Facialist-to-the-stars Christine Chin agrees. “Smoking dehydrates and kills elasticity, depriving skin of essential nutrients,” says Chin, owner of the Christine Chin Spa in New York City, whose clients include Penelope Cruz, Hilary Swank and Kate Moss. Even your lips will lose their luster with cigarette use, Chin says. Convinced to kick the habit for good? Your mirror will thank you!

2. Messing With Your Acne

Your mom warned you… and she was right. “Trying to break blemishes all by yourself is like trying to be your own dentist,” Chin says. “Most acne is embedded deeply and when you pop it, you push the bacteria further into the skin.”

3. Eating Too Much Junk

Mom was also right when she told you to put down those fries and pick up that broccoli. But with new findings on what’s good and bad for you – caffeine and chocolate have been found to contain beneficial antioxidants – should we really be concerned about that cheeseburger and fries? “Junk food won’t permanently damage your skin but you’ll gain weight [and not feel good],” Waldorf says. “There is no direct correlation between [good] skin and leafy green vegetables but that shouldn’t stop you from a balanced life.”

4. Sleeping With Your Makeup On

Late nights can lead to lazy skin care. But skimping on those five minutes of facial cleansing and moisturizing can have long-term effects on your complexion!

“The problem with going to bed without washing your face is that your makeup has already had all day to migrate to the pores, where it concentrates and causes irritation and inflammation,” Waldorf says. “Then, overnight, your face is pressed against the pillow, you sweat and the makeup congregates at the pores even more. So it is best to use a gentle makeup cleanser, followed by your acne or anti-aging regimen and a moisturizer before bed.”

5. Not Realizing The Consequences Of Tattoos and Piercings

“I try to explain to younger women that they’re not wearing the same makeup or clothes they were wearing last year. Do they really want something permanent on their bodies?” Waldorf says. “You’d think it would be obvious that a tattoo is a permanent scar. You’re talking five to 20 laser treatments to remove it – and some inks are impossible to remove.

“With piercing, when it’s in an area like the belly button, it can lead to nickel allergies; you’ll end up allergic to all costume jewelry later on. If you pierce cartilage, like the ear, you risk a deforming scar,” Waldorf says.

6. Getting Too Crazy With The Tweezers
Skin care experts caution against overplucking facial, bikini and eyebrow hair, as well as forcing out buried ones. We’ve all done it: You see an ingrown hair on your leg or bikini line, so you grab your tweezers and start digging. Or those annoying stray facial hairs are driving you crazy so you try to pluck them out. Stop!

“People end up with discoloration, scarring and ingrown hairs from chronically manipulating the area [where the offending follicle] is,” Waldorf says. “Just trim the hair; that way you’re not going to hurt yourself. Use a toothbrush to get an ingrown hair out or use over-the-counter hydrocortisone. And get rid of your magnifying mirror!”

7. Not Worrying Enough About…

Talking on the phone. Even something as benign as talking on the phone can be bad for your complexion; the bacteria on the dirty receiver can cause acne and clogged pores.

Hair products. These are another concern for the acne-prone. Their oils can drip onto your face when you sweat. Ask your doctor for vitamin recommendations, too – the wrong ones can result in a breakout.

Which products you’re using. Are you using the right products for your skin type? Harsh acne treatments and astringents can dry your skin and make it vulnerable to wrinkling. Even a massage can pose a risk if done incorrectly (aggressive facial rubbing could lead to sagging skin).

It’s Still All About Common Skin Sense…

However, before you enclose yourself in a plastic bubble, remember that a little common skin sense goes a long way. “Wash your face and drink water every day for a healthy glow,” Chin advises. “My actress clients have gorgeous skin.

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