Bad Habits That Are Ruining Your Skin

Updated: Jun 23, 2018

Your daily habits could put you at risk for faster skin aging with the appearance of age spots, blemishes and wrinkles. Too much salt can cause your body to retain water and leave skin with a swollen and inflamed appearance. The desire to have healthy, younger looking skin as you age is shared among most Americans. As a whole, Americans spent 14.6 million in cosmetic plastic surgery procedures in 2012, says the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. Facial rejuvenation procedures such as facelifts are one of the most common types of cosmetic surgical procedures — 126,000 surgeries were done in the last year.

That's not a surprise, as skin aging is a condition that commonly affects both genders, says the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI). As the most visible sign of aging, skin changes in the epidermis start to become more apparent over time with wrinkles and sagging of the skin.  

Habits That Cause Skin Aging

While plastic surgery can (sort of) reverse the effects of aging, the costly option can leave a dent in your wallet. A cheaper and healthier way reserve your healthy, looking skin is to learn what daily habits you need to kick to the curb that can speed up your skin aging process.

1. Sleep Deprivation

You do need your "beauty sleep" to reduce signs of skin aging that are heightened by irregular sleeping patterns. In a recent study published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, researchers examined the effects of skin quality and skin aging. The participants in the study were 60 pre-menopausal women who were between the ages of 30 and 49. Half of the participants had poor sleeping patterns and the other half had good sleeping patterns. The women's skin was also evaluated in the study to establish a correlation between poor sleep quality and skin aging. The results of the study showed those that were classified as poor quality sleepers had more visible signs of skin aging such as wrinkles and loss of firmness. The less you sleep, the faster you skin will age.

2. Eating Sugary Foods Instead of Fresh Fruits & Vegetable

Some studies have found that diets heavy on sugar can speed up the aging process. That goes for sweet treats like lollipops and ice cream as well as starches in refined carbs like white bread and pasta. A skin-friendly diet should focus on vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.

Research shows that fresh fruits and veggies may help prevent damage that can lead to aging skin. Produce also has antioxidants that can help repair your skin. A diet high in sugar activates enzymes that reduce healthy collagen, leaving behind unhealthy fragments of this skin-firming protein. When the skin’s healthy collagen cells “bump” into these fragments, they shut down and stop making collagen because they get confused. Like carbs, foods that convert sugar quickly to the bloodstream and have a high GI encourage glycation. This process degrades the quality of collagen, Fiori said, leading to skin which is more prone to wrinkling and sagging.

3. Wearing Make Up To Bed

After a late night out, the only thing you want to do is go to your bed and sleep. However, going directly to bed without removing your make up can speed up skin aging. The dirt and pollution on your skin from the day will build up at night if left on the skin, which can lead to unwanted breakouts when you wake up in the morning. As make up clogs your pores, it prevent the production of sebum — a lubricant that helps moisturize and protect your skin, says Discovery Health. For late nights where you're out on the town, use face cleansing towelettes as a quick-and-easy way to remove make up.

4. Dirty Makeup Brushes

Letting makeup build up on your beauty tools has some seriously nasty consequences. Your makeup tools get moved from your makeup bag, into your beauty products, onto your face, and then sometimes sit on your vanity or bathroom counter. They come into contact with so many different surfaces that they’re bound to encounter some bacteria too. A study at Loyola Marymount University found that after one month, uncleaned makeup brushes held more bacteria than researchers were even able to measure. You should make sure that you wash your brushes at least once a week. Listed below are the importance of cleaning your makeup tools:

  • Spotty application When you upgrade from drugstore makeup sponges to a nice set of beauty brushes and other tools, you get a much more flawless finish. However, if they’re covered in weeks’ worth of pigments and powders, your makeup is just going to look muddy and unfinished. If you’re having a hard time blending, it could be because your brushes aren’t clean.

  • Damaged brushes Build-up on your makeup brushes can cause the fibers to break and the bristles to weaken, making it even harder to apply your makeup properly.

  • Irritation The eventual damage caused to your brushes can start to harden the bristles and change their form. Without the original soft texture of your brushes and sponges, continued use of these tools could cause some redness and irritation to your skin—which you’ll only want to cover up with even more makeup.

  • Breakouts and clogged pores Consistently using dirty makeup tools and putting them back into your products can cause a seriously vicious cycle. Your dirty makeup tools introduce bacteria into your products and even after you’ve cleaned the brushes, you’re putting that bacteria right back onto your face when you dip into your favorite cream or gel product. If you’ve noticed an increase in blemishes, it could be because your brushes aren’t being cleaned often enough. This can also cause clogged pores and uneven texture on the skin.

  • Pinkeye One of the many causes of conjunctivitis is sharing beauty products. You can never be certain how clean someone else’s liner brush is, so err on the side of using your own freshly sanitized tools.

  • Staph infection In addition to breakout-causing germs, your brushes can pick up some dangerous bacteria like E.coli and Staphylococcus as well as various fungi, according to Debbie Palmer, MD, dermatologist and co-founder of Dermatology Associates of New York. These bacteria could make you seriously sick and could even be life threatening. Before you assume it could never happen to you, consider the woman who ended up in a wheelchair after contracting a staph infection from using a friend’s makeup brush.

  • Wrinkles Stressed-out skin that’s constantly coming into contact with bacteria is going to start to show signs of wear. When your skin is stressed collagen and elastin start to breakdown at a much faster rate, causing your skin to lose its plump, youthful appearance. You could end up with premature wrinkles as a result of constantly using dirty brushes.

5. No SPF

The main cause of extrinsic aging is excessive sun exposure without the application of a sunscreen with sun protection factor (SPF). Skipping out on the sunscreen can cause harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays to penetrate the skin and increase aging, along with the risk of skin cancer. To protect yourself while you are outside for long periods of time, it is important to apply an SPF of 30 or higher and wear protective clothing, says Medline Plus.

6. Lack of Exercise

Not doing moderate exercises can put you at risk for the acceleration of skin aging. Exercise — whether moderate or high intensity — will help tone your muscles and continue blood circulation throughout your body.

"As you use your muscles, they begin to make demands on the rest of the body," says Discovery Health. Your muscles will alert your body to remain alert which will increase energy and allow the blood to flow throughout your immune system. Improved circulation is an anti-aging antidote that can help you look younger even when you've hit old age.

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