6 Ways You Might Be Unintentionally Damaging Your Skin

We know you’ve been trying to take good care of your skin: You’ve followed much of our advice and you’ve become somewhat of a grooming/skin care connoisseur. Unfortunately, despite your best efforts in using anti-wrinkle cream, your skin is still dry or isn’t looking how you’d hoped. We’re here to let you know that you’re probably doing damage to your skin without even knowing it. Here are six mistakes you’re probably making.

1. You’re drinking too much alcohol

Beer with a big meal

Skip the beer with this big meal. | iStock.com

Those extra shots of Patron are doing more than hurting your liver — they’re hurting your skin. “Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol can definitely dry and dehydrate your skin,” dermatologist Gary Goldfaden told Byrdie.

Dr. David Colbert, founder of New York Dermatology Group, seconded the thought to The Huffington Post, saying, “It may make us feel good, but alcohol is a hepatotoxin,” meaning it specifically damages the liver, he explained. “It’s a toxin to the cells that detoxify your body.” So, how does that affect our skin? “One way to look at it,” Dr. Colbert said, “is to ask what does someone look like who is dying of liver failure? They’re shallow, they’re pasty, they’re cold, their pores are huge.” Cut back to one to two drinks per day if you absolutely must drink, but try not to exceed that.

We’re going to put smoking in this same category as the most obvious habits that damage your skin.

2. Your greasy diet

man eating a hamburger

Eating a greasy cheeseburger isn’t helping your skin. | iStock.com

That burger and fries you’re eating could be harming your complexion. “People have a hard time realizing that what you’re putting in your body reflects on your skin,” Goldfaden said in the same Byrdie story. “I’m a firm believer that we are what we eat.” If you’re a consistent junk food eater then it might be best to cut back. Goldenfaden recommends avoiding fatty, greasy foods, and loading up on foods that are high in antioxidants like blueberries, raspberries, tomatoes, and leafy greens.

Here are some of the best diets to try.

3. You’re taking steaming hot showers

woman showering in hot water

That’s probably too hot. | iStock.com

We confess that there are few things in life that are as satisfying as taking a long, hot shower. Unfortunately, hot water strips your skin of natural oils and will dry it out. Shorten your showers and lower the temperature of the water to hold onto as much natural oil/moisture as you can. After you get out, moisturize as quickly as you can to seal in moisture on your face and body.

4. You’re a pimple popper

woman squeezing pimple in front of mirror

Keep your hands away from your face. | iStock.com

If there are a few pimples that show up on your face, control any sudden urge to pop. “Picking can actually make the acne worse and lead to permanent scarring,” Dr. Jennifer Stein M.D., Ph.D., and assistant professor of dermatology at NYU Langone Medical Center, told WebMD. “Better to leave it alone.”

Sure, popping them can make you feel better in the short term, but it will and can scar for the long term. Think about how dirty your hands and nails are and all the bacteria that’s making its way into your skin when you pop. Instead, try an over-the-counter remedy containing benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid and call your dermatologist if your skin doesn’t clear.

5. You’re still not wearing sunscreen

man applying sunscreen

You need to start wearing sunscreen. | iStock.com

Why are you still not wearing sunscreen? Not only are you leaving yourself open to premature aging, but also cancer. Dermatologist Norman Levine, M.D. and author of Skin Healthy, told WebMD, “If there’s one thing that someone can do to avoid severe injury to the skin, it’s avoid the sun. The sun has effects on the cells that renew the skin. And when those cells are injured irreparably, you get skin aging and become more prone to skin cancer.” Be sure to apply SPF 30 or higher daily. If you’re going outside, wear sunscreen and reapply at least every two hours if you can — ideally even more.

6. Your sunglasses and your cellphone

young woman in trendy clothes talks on a smartphone

Just how clean is your phone? | iStock.com/RyanJLane

If you’re not regularly cleaning them, there’s a ton of bacteria on your glasses and smartphone. The “phone zone,” located from your temple to your chin, carries a lot of oil and germs, which can lead to irritation and breakouts. To fix this mess, use disinfectant wipes to clean your glasses and cell phone. Also, exfoliate your skin to balance out the oils. Get that phone away from your face and use ear buds instead.