There are a lot of areas of beauty where it’s okay to skimp. Your manicure, your haircuts and your makeup can all be put on the back burner when life gets busy, but your skin is not the place to neglect. After all, your skin has to last your entire life, and while your nail polish and highlights may change month to month, your skin’s got a lot to make it through.
While we all know we should be washing our face twice a day and using a cleanser that works for our skin type, there are some mistakes that practically everyone is guilty of making. To help you get your best skin possible, we’ve put together a list of the 10 skin mistakes you’re making — and how to fix them.
1. Not using a moisturizer with SPF every day: Summer, winter or any time of year, your facial moisturizer should have an SPF of at least 15 if not more. While makeup with sunscreen is a good thing, it won’t give you the kind of coverage you get with a lotion. Even if your only time outside consists of walking to your car or the subway, your skin is always at risk of catching some harmful UV rays and, ultimately, damage.
2. Not patting dry: Especially if you have sensitive skin, take care to pat your face dry rather than rub after you’ve cleansed. The tugging of a towel can cause irritation, plus years of tugging at your skin can make it lose elasticity. When you rub around your eyes, dark spots are more likely to form. Take extra care to pat, and be sure you’re using a different towel than the one you use to dry your hands.
3. Forgetting to wash your hands before washing your face: The number of women who forget to wash their hands before they wash their faces is incredible, but think about it: You’re putting the bacteria, dirt and oil from your fingers directly onto your skin, which could be a main reason you’ve got acne or red skin.
4. Using the same moisturizer year round: As the seasons change so does your skin, and switching to a heavier cream in the winter is just as important as using a lightweight moisturizer for the summer. Dry skin needs to be treated with a higher dose of hydration, and when you give your skin the kind of moisture it needs, it’ll make all the difference.
5. Keeping your makeup on at night: Taking off your makeup at night should come as naturally as brushing your teeth. Doing it during the week is one thing, but cleansing your face becomes even more important on a weekend after a night out with the girls, when you’re likely wearing even more makeup than during the week. If you’re feeling especially lazy, keep makeup remover at your nightstand for a quick removal.
6. Not going to the dermatologist: Even if you’ve got clear skin, you shouldn’t skimp on going to the dermatologist. A yearly check on your whole body for dark spots, moles and anything that seems out of the ordinary is key to early detection of skin conditions. The earlier you catch something, the greater the chances for a positive outcome.
7. Drinking too much soda: We’re all guilty of drinking basically anything but water, but soda especially can be ruining your skin. In one serving of soda, there are on average 44 grams of sugar, which translates to 11 teaspoons of sugar, meaning the acidity of soda is extremely high. All of that sugar and acidity goes straight to your skin, causing irritation, acne and redness. Switch to water and cut out excess sugar intake in your diet for clearer skin.
8. Picking at acne: Also, touching your face in general. Picking at acne causes scars, inflamed tissue and a worse situation than the one you started with. When you touch your face, you’re doing the same damage as cleansing your face without washing your hands first. Every time you feel yourself going to touch your face, put your hands down and rest them somewhere else. Stop touching your face for three weeks straight, and you’ll start seeing big differences in your skin.
9. Waiting too long to use anti-aging products: It’s never too early to start using anti-aging products, the most important of which are sunscreen and moisturizer. If you’re in your twenties, now is a great time to start using creams with “wrinkle-free” and “anti-aging” in the names. Prevention is key.
10. Not taking care of your neck: Do you ever see older women with gorgeous, wrinkle-free faces, but then you look at their necks and can immediately tell how old they are? Neglecting your neck is common, but if you start cleansing and moisturizing south of your chin now, you’ll be glad you did in the years to come.
Image via Istock