You probably already know that your skin is your biggest organ. But you might have forgotten all the amazing things it does. Your epidermis helps to regulate your body temperature; its nerves allow you to experience touch, pressure, and pain; it keeps your inner organs in place; and protects you from germs. Unfortunately, there are many things that we do — sometimes daily — that can be rather damaging to our skin. But as your skin renews every day, so does the chance of reversing and minimizing some of the damage you may have already done. Here are the five things you might be doing every day that are ruining your skin — and how to prevent damage.
Soaking in blue light
Recently we have been hearing quite a bit about blue light and its negative effects on our eyes and sleep patterns. (In case you’re wondering, blue light is the blue end of the visible light spectrum that is emitted by the sun and also by your electronic devices, including laptops, computer monitors, TVs, and smartphones.) Since 39% of Americans ages 30 to 49 use the internet almost constantly, all that exposure may be wreaking havoc on our skin. Through long-term exposure, our skin can become inflamed due to free radicals, and develop hyperpigmentation and discoloration. “This means that it can cause early skin aging, wrinkles, and possible inflammatory skin diseases,” says facial cosmetic surgeon Dr. Daria Hamrah of NOVA SurgiCare. “These risks can be avoided by either using screen filters and switching to ‘night mode’ on your cell phone, and wearing sunscreen every day.” While protecting your skin is the best way to avoid damage, there are treatments that can turn back some of the effects. Products like retinoids or laser technology, like resurfacing types or intense pulse lights (IPL), can help get rid of pigmentation, redness or other discolorations.
Skimping on sunscreen
SPF should be a part of your daily skincare regimen and not just if you are planning on being outside all day. “Ultraviolet light from the sun can lead to the breakdown of proteins like collagen and elastin, destruction of lipids that are crucial to cell survival and damage to DNA, including permanent damage of our skin stem cells,” says Dr. Hannah Sivak, PhD, skin care scientist and author of The Scientific Revolution in Skin Care. In other words, you are on a fast track to wrinkles, sagging skin, and discoloration. Plus, repeated overexposure increases your risk of skin cancer, and in its most deadly form, melanoma is most common in young adults, especially women. So, apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen, wear UPF hats and clothing, and avoid the sun when it is at its peak.
Sleeping in your makeup
We understand there are times when your busy schedule cuts into your skincare routine. But not removing your makeup before hitting the sack can cause clogged pores as well as fine lines and wrinkles. Plus, not washing away the grime that collected on your face means you’re leaving bacteria that may make you more susceptible to acne. In a pinch, you can use a face wipe, and though it won’t get your skin completely clean, it’s better than nothing. Just be sure to pick one that is non-comedogenic.
Skipping your zzzs
The National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults get at least seven hours of shut eye nightly. Unfortunately, more than 60% of women are falling short of that goal, which can lead to a host of health issues as well as affect the appearance of your skin. Not getting enough sleep can impact collagen growth, skin hydration, and its texture. Research published in the Journal of Sleep found that sleep deprivation was linked to hanging eyelids, swollen eyes, dark under eye circles, fine lines, and wrinkles.
Using a grimy phone
Your phone may seem like your lifeline to the world, but it is also a playground for nasty bacteria, all coming in contact with our face and lips. One study found that bacteria located on cell phones included staphylococcus and E-Coli. To reduce the germ population on your mobile and thus avoid a breakout, clean your cell daily with an antibacterial or alcohol wipe.
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