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16 subtle ways you could be damaging your skin without realizing it

16 subtle ways you could be damaging your skin without realizing it

Some skin-care habits aren't helping.

Some skin-care habits aren’t helping.

Your skin goes through a lot. On any given day it’s exposed to a slew of products, pollutants, and – depending on where you live – harsh weather.

That means skin needs good care to function and look its best. But a lot of us may be inadvertently engaging in skin-care practices that do more harm than good.

INSIDER spoke with dermatologists about skin-care habits and behaviors we’re better off dropping. Here’s what they had to say.

1. Assuming natural products are better

Natural products can be great, but they’re not for everyone.
CityTree עץבעיר/Flickr

Just because a product is natural, doesn’t mean it’s better for your skin.

In fact, natural products can even harm the skin. Earlier this year, for instance, a group of doctors reported on a woman who got second-degree burns on her foot because she tried to treat a fungal infection with garlic.

And that’s not the only example.

“Poison ivy is natural but it can also cause a bad skin rash,” dermatologist Dr. Allison Arthur told INSIDER. “Another natural product I see being used a lot is coconut oil. Using that as a moisturizer in areas like the arms and the legs is typically fine, but I don’t recommend using it on the face because it can clog pores and make acne worse.”

She added that essential oils, used on their own or mixed into products, can also cause allergic reactions in some people.

2. Self-treating skin conditions

Don’t unleash your whole medicine cabinet on every skin issue.

“Sometimes when patients come to see me they have [been using] hydrocortisone cream, antifungal cream, diaper cream, calamine lotion, honey, Listerine, vitamin E, [antibacterial ointment] – and sometimes those products are actually aggravating the condition,” Arthur said.

If a rash is severely itchy, interfering with your life, and not getting better within a few days, don’t slather it with every cream in your medicine cabinet. Make an appointment with a dermatologist in your area.

3. Assuming baby products are better for sensitive skin

Baby products are often marketed as “gentle” on skin.

“Don’t assume baby products are the most gentle,” Arthur said. “A lot of those popular [baby] products actually contain things like fragrance, which can cause irritation or allergic [reactions].”

4. Thinking hypoallergenic products are better for sensitive skin

You can’t believe everything you see on product labels.
Caroline Praderio/INSIDER

A product labeled “hypoallergenic” can still cause allergic reactions – even the Food and Drug Administration says so.

“There are no federal standards or definitions that govern the use of the term ‘hypoallergenic,’” the agency writes on its website. “The term means whatever a particular company wants it to mean.”

And it may not mean much. A few years back, a group of researchers tested 135 children’s skin-care products labeled “hypoallergenic” and found almost 90% of them contained at least one known skin allergen.

Arthur said you should also be skeptical of unregulated claims like “dermatologist-tested” and “dermatologist-recommended,” neither of which have standardized definitions.

The best way to find out if you’ll react to a product is to read the ingredients list. And if you’re not sure what you’re allergic to, ask a dermatologist about patch testing, which can help you identify specific problem ingredients, Arthur explained.

5. Laying in the sun to get your vitamin D

There are safer ways to get vitamin D.
Flickr / Elvert Barnes

Sun exposure does prompt our bodies to create the essential nutrient vitamin D, but it can also lead to skin cancer. For that reason, Arthur explained, sun exposure shouldn’t be anyone’s primary source of vitamin D.

“If cigarette smoking caused your body to produce vitamin D, would you start smoking cigarettes to raise your vitamin D levels? That’s how dermatologists feel about getting unprotected sun exposure as a source for vitamin D,” she said.

Instead, Arthur recommends getting an adequate supply from foods or oral supplements.

6. Trying to scrub away acne

Acne doesn’t happen because someone’s face is dirty.

Avoid over-washing, scrubbing, or exfoliating acne blemishes – it’ll likely backfire.

“A lot of times people have the false impression that acne is related to a hygiene issue and they think that they can just wash it away,” Arthur said. “And while we do encourage patients to wash their face twice a day, if you over-wash it can lead to increased oil production and cause a lot of irritation.”

7. Popping pimples

Don’t try this at home.
Orapin Joonkhajohn/Shutterstock

Whenever you can, resist the urge to pop your own pimples.

“While it may be satisfying, we do know it can lead to scarring,” dermatologist Dr. Marisa Garshick told INSIDER. “And ultimately the scarring can actually be a lot harder to treat.”

Plus, picking at your skin can lead to nasty and dangerous infections. (Don’t believe it? There are plenty of horrifying stories on the internet to convince you.)

If you do get a pimple that you just can’t stand, a dermatologist or aesthetician can treat it in a way that minimizes damage and inflammation, Garshick said. Or you could always satisfy the urge to pop by watching other people do it on YouTube.

8. Never changing your pillowcase

When’s the last time your changed your pillowcase?

A seldom-replaced pillowcase can accumulate lots of rubbed-off hair and skin products. That can be a recipe for clogged pores, Garshick said. Make sure to replace and wash yours regularly.

9. Exfoliating too hard and too often

Exfoliating doesn’t have to be harsh.
Volodymyr Nik/Shutterstock

“A lot of the time people hear that exfoliating is good for the skin, and certainly to a degree it is,” Garshick said. “But there is such a thing as over-exfoliating, which can be problematic. It can cause irritation and it can cause dryness […] that actually makes your body to want to produce more oil.”

She recommended exfoliating only once or twice per week – and being careful about the type of product you use.

“Sometimes products have a lot of those beads in them, and even though they feel really good, they can actually be pretty harsh on the skin,” she added. “Exfoliants don’t necessarily need to feel harsh on the skin in order to get the job done.”

Garshick suggested trying out chemical exfoliants like glycolic or salicylic acid, which slough off dead skin cells without any scrubbing at all.

10. Taking hot showers

Limit the time and temperature of your showers.

“As good as it feels, [a long, hot shower] is not great for the skin,” Garshick said. “The water is stripping your body of its natural oils.”

But there’s a way to combat the drying effects of hot water: moisturizer.

“If you are going to take a long hot shower, or if you’re going to take multiple showers in a day, the most important thing that you can do for your skin is immediately when you get out of the shower, pat your body dry and then apply a thick moisturizer,” she said.

11. Using makeup remover wipes

Makeup wipes might cause allergic reactions in some people.
Panupong Thammachai/Shutterstock

Arthur advised against using wet wipes and makeup remover wipes on a regular basis.

“Those are just another source of potential allergens,” she said. “We see a lot of cases of people who get rashes from wet toilet wipes.”

Instead, she recommends removing makeup with a gentle face wash.

12. Sleeping in makeup

It’s best to go to sleep with a clean face.

“If it happens just once in a while, it’s probably not going to cause any issues, but it’s not recommended,” Arthur said.

Sleeping in makeup can clog pores, first and foremost. But if you fail to wash off your makeup at the end of the day, you’re also leaving your skin covered in accumulated sweat, oil, and environmental pollutants, she explained.

13. Using too many products — or too much of a product

Go easy on the skin products.

When it comes to using new skin products, Garshick says less is more.

“Generally speaking, if you are going to introduce new products to the skin, try to do it one at a time, and give your body a chance to see how it works before adding too many things all at once,” she said.

That same rule also applies to the quantity of product you use. A tiny pimple doesn’t require a whole finger full of topical acne medicine, Garschick explained.

14. Relying too heavily on your sunscreen

Sunscreen alone isn’t always enough.
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Strange but true: Wearing sunscreen might backfire if you use it as justification to spend more time in the sun. In fact, some research shows that people who report using sunscreen don’t actually get fewer sunburns.

“Another bad habit is believing that just because you are wearing sunscreen, you can sit out in the sun all day,” Garshick said. “We still recommend avoiding peak sun hours between 10 a.m and 2 p.m., finding shade, and wearing a hat and clothing when possible to protect the skin.”

If you are relying on sunscreen alone, make sure to reapply every two hours, and after swimming, toweling off, or excessive sweating.

15. Using toner

Toner can be drying.

Toner is sometimes touted as a way to improve acne-prone skin, but it may not help with blemishes at all.

“Many patients feel alcohol-based toners give their skin a clean freshness when in actuality it can be very drying and irritating to the skin,” dermatologist Dr. Ritu Saini previously told INSIDER. “Some use it for acne control because these products are drying. However, the result is often excess oil production to compensate.”

That, in turn, could lead to even more breakouts. To keep skin clean without over-drying it, the AAD recommends washing the face with a gentle, non-abrasive cleanser that contains no alcohol.

Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more.

16. Cleaning cuts with peroxide or antibacterial ointments

Peroxide can actually irritate your skin.
Aggie 11/Shutterstock

Dermatologist Dr. Holly Hanson previously explained to INSIDER that cleaning cuts with peroxide won’t actually make them heal faster.

“People think that cleaning a wound with peroxide … prevents infection and helps with healing,” she said. “However, peroxide is irritating to an open wound.”

Instead, she recommended covering wounds with a plain ointment like petroleum jelly.

Petroleum jelly keeps wounds from scabbing over, which speeds up healing, according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD). As long as you’re cleaning the wound every day with mild soap and water, there’s also no need to use antibacterial ointments, the AAD adds.

Plus, some people can end up allergic to the ingredients in antibacterial ointments – that’s another good reason to stick with plain ones.

“Plain ointments also help avoid the unnecessary risk of creating an allergy to antibacterial creams and ointments,” Hanson said.

5 Skin Conditions: How to Treat them & Be More Attractive

5 Skin Conditions: How to Treat them & Be More Attractive

We all want to look good, but a lot of us do not know how.

And because no one is perfect, some women opt for makeup to hide their unattractive features. However, do you have to put on layers of makeup to look attractive?

As many suffer from various skin problems, I believe that the key to solving such problems is to understand the causes, and know how to cure them without damaging your skin.

Here are the Five Common Skin Conditions and How to Treat Them

#1 Eye Bags

When you think of it, eye bags are not a skin condition but is an obvious issue that is common as well.

Eyebags typically occur due to weakness and a lack of sleep. A normal human requires about seven to eight hours of sleep per night. The sleep should be uninterrupted as waking up during the night or sleeping at random intervals can also be bad.

Other than that, weakness can also cause these bags to appear. While you can usually treat them by sleeping properly and having a healthy diet, you can enhance the process by using different face massages and creams to treat eye bags.

Placing a cold spoon under your eyes for a couple of minutes could do the trick. You can also try using green tea bags, and cucumber, simple, yet powerful home remedies for a quick cure.

#2 Wrinkles

Wrinkles are a sign of aging and typically appear in the 50s or early 40s, but some of us begin to have these even in our 20s. They also appear due to frowning and can be visible on the cheeks, forehead, and neck.

Wrinkles can be difficult to get rid of, and many people turn to specialists to undergo laser treatment to remove wrinkles. However, if it is just the beginning, you may be able to get rid of wrinkles by using simple ingredients like vitamin C, which is great for stimulating the collagen production in your skin.

There are also products available in the market that claim to fight wrinkles. However, be careful about what you apply to your skin.

The best way ever to deal with wrinkles is to delay their appearance by living a healthy lifestyle; using a sunscreen every single day, applying a moisturizer, and using natural recipes for treating wrinkles are the best ways to enjoy a beautiful and healthy looking skin.

#3 Acne

Adult acne

Acne is among one of the most common skin problems around the world. 90% of all people will face acne at some point in life.

Acne happens due to some reasons including hormonal changes, and dietary habits. In some cases, it will disappear on its own. However, it may leave marks that need intervention to get rid of.

Tea tree oil is an excellent way to get rid of acne and acne marks, without the need to expose your skin to harsh chemicals. According to reports, tea tree oil is as effective as benzoyl peroxide, which is used in most acne creams, but with no side effects, as if using benzoyl peroxide.

Other than this, make sure to use products that are designed for acne-prone skin  (usually labeled as noncomedogenic); so that you do not cause a breakout.

A straightforward tip is to keep your skin clean and remove your makeup before going to bed, in order not to let dirt or oil accumulates in the pores and cause breakouts.

#4 Moles

Moles are very common and can be found on any part of the body. While they are usually considered normal, some of them can get very big in size and rise as well, causing pain and other issues.

Most doctors recommend getting moles removed before they grow any bigger.

#5 Venous Issues

Varicose veins disease infographic

Venous diseases usually occur due to issues with the blood flow. These diseases typically cause the veins to swell and turn purple or blue. This makes the skin looks very unattractive, and the condition can be painful as well.

Most venous diseases can be treated with medication but some may require endovenous laser therapy. If you or someone close to you is facing such diseases, then make sure to find more information on endovenous laser therapy. It is a painless procedure that can help you get rid of the problem.

If you have any of these five problems, then make sure to get them treated. Looking good could be as simple as paying attention to what you put on your skin and by living a healthy lifestyle. So rather than hiding your skin condition with makeup, make sure to treat your skin.

More from my site

Study links acne with increased risk of depression

Study links acne with increased risk of depression

ACNE patients have a significantly increased risk of developing major depression, particularly within one year of acne diagnosis, according to a Canadian study published in the British Journal of Dermatology.

A new study, led by researchers at the University of Calgary in Canada, recommends monitoring mood symptoms in patients with acne, who could be at increased risk of major depression in the first five years after diagnosis.

The researchers used data from a major primary care database in the UK, collected between 1986 and 2012 (The Health Improvement Network – THIN), to investigate the link between the skin disease and mental health.

Among the patients followed for 15 years, 134,427 had acne and 1,731,608 did not. The majority were aged under 19 at the beginning of the study period.

The probability of developing major depression was 18.5% for patients with acne and 12% for those without the disease.

The researchers found that the risk of major depression was particularly high in the year following acne diagnosis, reducing thereafter. Risk for major depression within one year of acne diagnosis was found to be 63% higher compared to individuals without acne, according to the study.

“This study highlights an important link between skin disease and mental illness. Given the risk of depression was highest in the period right after the first time a patient presented to a physician for acne concerns, it shows just how impactful our skin can be towards our overall mental health,” said lead author Dr Isabelle Vallerand of the University of Calgary in Canada.

Doctors are advised to monitor mood symptoms in acne patients in order to ensure prompt treatment or refer patients to psychiatrists when necessary, the study concludes. – AFP Relaxnews

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