You may not realize that the things you’re doing today will affect the appearance of your skin tomorrow (or next week, or next month, or in a few years). Your everyday routine may be littered with activities and toxins that cause damage to your skin in form of breakouts, eczema, atopic dermatitis, early aging, sun spots, or wrinkles.
Fortunately, there are things you can do to protect your skin and stop the damage in its tracks. All you need to do is to be aware of these sneaky skin-damaging mistakes so that you can improve your wellness routine and have healthier skin.
RELATED: Your Guide to Radiant Skin
These are the eight most common skin-damaging mistakes that people make.
1. Not Drinking Enough Water
Dehydration is one of the worst skin crimes you could commit. Your skin is the largest organ you have—and if your body isn’t well hydrated, you can bet your skin won’t be either.
Dry skin ages much more quickly than hydrated skin. Your skin needs water in order to maintain its elasticity and softness. Dehydration causes the skin to become dry, tight, and flaky over time. You will also be more susceptible to skin problems like eczema and psoriasis when you have chronically dry skin.
Drink at least eight 8-oz. glasses of water each day—more if you’re pregnant or nursing.
2. Drinking Alcohol
Skin health and alcohol just don’t mix. Drinking alcohol is the opposite of drinking water—it dehydrates your body and skin. Alcohol is a big skin no-no; it has detrimental effects on your largest organ.
Anyone who’s been a bit more than tipsy and has woken up the next morning feeling parched, knows—you’re hungover because alcohol dehydrates you. Not only that, but it contains plenty of toxins, which your body then needs to focus energy on getting rid of.
Have you ever been red and bloated after a couple shots? It’s no coincidence. Alcohol acts as a vasodilator. That means that it expands blood vessels, giving you that flushed and puffy appearance. Too much alcohol at once or regular drinking long-term can make your blood vessels expand too much, leading to a blood vessel burst and causing permanent spider veins.
An occasional cup of red wine with dinner won’t affect your skin—just steer clear from binge-drinking or from making that big ol’ cup of wine a regular habit.
3. Not Changing Your Skin Care Routine According to The Season
The winter months are your skin’s worst nightmare. During the winter, humidity drops, making the air very dry and harsh on the skin. Add the heating in your home, office, and car as well as extra-hot showers, and you’ve got yourself super dry, red, itchy, and flaky skin.
The combination of heating drying out the air and very hot water stripping the skin of its protective oils leaves it dehydrated and vulnerable.
During the winter months, add an extra-hydrating moisturizer with SPF to your skin routine. Apply body moisturizer after every shower and face moisturizer each morning and night for healthier skin. Purchase a humidifier for your bedroom if you sleep with the heat on.
During the summer months, get a light, non-oily moisturizer with an SPF of at least 15 (preferably more) and apply it each morning.
4. Using Your Phone
That’s right—a normal, everyday occurrence such as using your phone can cause you to break out and have an uneven complexion.
One study showed that there are more bacteria hanging around on your phone than on your toilet seat. Your phone is exposed to so many toxins—and then pressed against your cheeks and jaws. It’s no wonder people break out around their jawlines. (1)
Carry around sanitizing wipes for your phone and hand sanitizer to use regularly, and you may see a difference in the skin on your face.
5. Poor Dietary Choices
In order for your skin to stay elastic, soft, and supple, your body needs certain nutrients—such as beta-carotene, vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium, and zinc—which are obtained from the foods you eat. To get these nutrients, you need to eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, fatty fish, nuts, and seeds.
If you’re consistently skipping out on fruits and vegetables and reaching for packaged, processed foods instead, you may be lacking in certain nutrients essential to healthier skin.
RELATED: 7 Key Nutrients For Beautiful Skin
6. Not Getting Enough Sleep
When you sleep, your body works its hardest to replenish healthy cells and repair damaged tissue. Blood flow increases, bringing oxygen to all the organs that need a boost, including your skin. When you skip out on sleep, you miss the crucial healing time that your skin requires for a glowing complexion.
Also, when you lack sleep, your body releases stress hormones that can lead to chronic inflammation—the culprit behind many skin problems, including atopic dermatitis, eczema, and psoriasis.
7. Not Changing Your Sheets Often Enough
It may sound kind of gross (because it is), but as you sleep, your dead skin cells flake off and build up in your sheets and pillows. These dead skin cells attract bacteria, toxins, and dust mites, which feed off of them.
Change your sheets and pillowcases regularly—ideally once a week—and you won’t have to worry about resting your face on that junk every night.
8. Not Protecting Yourself from Harmful Light
By now it’s pretty obvious that UV rays from the sun cause skin damage—and if you don’t wear sunscreen daily (yes, daily!), you should get on top of that.
But did you know that light from various devices, such as computer monitors, TV screens, and phones can also cause skin damage? High-energy visible light (HEV)—also known as blue light—from these devices can have a negative impact on your eyes and skin. Experts claim that blue light may cause early aging.
If you work in front of a screen all day, it may be a good idea to purchase a blue light-blocking device, such as glasses with blue light-blocking lenses or a filter to put over your screen.