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Your skin is your body's first line of defense from environmental stressors, pollution, the weather, and everything in between. So while you might think of your outer layer as overly sensitive, it's constantly being tested by every little thing it comes into contact with.
"So many factors can impact the state of your skin, especially in everyday life," Kristin Liang, product development assistant manager at Wander Beauty told INSIDER. The question is, what are they?
The hair products you're using can clog your pores.
If you often spot little bumps around your hairline, Dr. Hadley King said the styling products you're using could be to blame.
"Hair styling products that contain oil can clog pores and cause breakouts," the NYC dermatologist told INSIDER. "This may show up as clogged pores and small pimples around the hairline."
Old beauty products you're using carry acne-causing bacteria.
You might want to take a good look through your makeup drawers and the skin-care products lining your bathroom shelf.
"Using old makeup and skin-care products or sponges or brushes that have become contaminated with bacteria or yeast can cause skin irritations or infections," King explained. "This may show up as red, dry irritated patches or small red bumps or pus bumps."
Your skin could be reacting to something you're eating.
International educator and skin specialist at Glo Skin Beauty, Amanda Von Dem Hagen told INSIDER that skin traumas can be triggered by a number of factors, including diet.
According to a 2017 study published in the "Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics," it was found that people who eat a lot of refined carbs are more likely to experience moderate to severe acne. And Tiffany Lester, M.D. told Mind Body Green that your dairy intake is one to watch, too.
"Milk contains an abundance of IGF-1, which is a growth hormone. Too much causes inflammation and a spike in insulin, which causes the liver to produce even more growth hormone," the director of Parsley Health SF and creator of The Unconscious WorkoutExcess told the publication. "Dairy can also cause your skin to produce more sebum or excess oil leading to clogged pores and acne."
You're skimping on sun protection.
Sunscreen should be applied as a part of your regular skin-care routine.
"Not practicing sun-smart behaviors on an everyday basis will lead to fine lines, wrinkles, skin sagging, discolorations and other signs of premature aging of the skin," King said. "This means hats and sun protective clothing, broad-spectrum SPF 30 ... and avoiding peak sun hours."
Drinking from plastic straws causes fine lines around your mouth.
Not only are plastic straws bad for the environment, King told INSIDER that sipping from the stuff has a direct effect on your complexion by speeding up and worsening the development of lines around the mouth.
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You aren't checking the ingredients in your skin care.
It's just as important to check the ingredients list on your skin-care products as it is to check their expiration date.
"A lot of people use silicone based primers and silicones in their foundations and don't even know it," said Debbi Burnes, a natural skin-care expert, esthetician, and founder ofSumbody. "When silicones mix with the oils in your skin they form a 'plug.' Congested skin [as the result of silicone in the products you use] can cause collagen breakdown, accelerated aging, enlarged pores, redness, irritation, breakouts, excessively dry/oily skin, and make skin look dull, ruddy, and uneven."
Just as certain ingredients can strip your skin of essential oils, excessive exfoliating has the same effect.
" Exfoliating every day can strip the skin of its natural oils, which can cause breakouts," celebrity facialist Joanna Vargas told Glamour. "It can also cause irritation because you're removing the top layer of skin before it can heal."
Not only should you be limiting the number of times you exfoliate throughout the week, but you should also be mindful of what types of exfoliants you're using.
"Exfoliants such a apricot and walnut seeds are not way too abrasive for your skin. They are not completely spherical in shape so they are going to damage your skin, so you want things that will digest your skin like lactic acid or alpha hydroxy." Burnes explained.
You're relying on makeup wipes to wash your face.
Even if your hectic schedule doesn't leave a generous amount of time for super thorough skin-care routines, make sure you aren't substituting a thorough wash for wipes.
"While [ wipes ] can be great in a pinch and at times for makeup removal, they do not clean exceptionally well or exfoliate thoroughly, and they leave chemicals on the skin which in some brands can be undesirable (things such as formaldehyde-releasing preservatives)," Dr. Craig Kraffert explained.
Some makeup wipes, the board-certified dermatologist told INSIDER, are made with chemicals that dry and irritate the skin, while the preservatives in their packaging can trigger allergic reactions as well.
Photo: Nicola Dall'Asen/Revelist
You're dehydrated, and so is your skin.
If you're experiencing more acne than usual, Robert Glatter, M.D. told INSIDER you might want to look at your daily water intake.
"Hydration is essential to optimal skin health," the assistant professor of emergency medicine at Lenox Hill Hospital, Northwell Health explained. "It provides the basis for maintenance of sweat and oil gland function which maintain our ability to regulate our internal body temperature."
According to The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, the average man should be drinking 3.7 liters of fluid per day, while women should be drinking 2.7 liters. Failing to do so could result in a dull complexion, and dry, dehydrated skin.
You've gotten into the habit of touching your skin.
Let's say your nervous habit is to pick at your skin, or you're constantly brushing pieces of hair away from your forehead. Von Dem Hagen said these sorts of random moments of contact can add up if your fingers haven't been freshly washed, especially if your skin is already acne prone.
"I know [touching your skin] is very easy when you suffer with pimples to want to touch your skin," she told INSIDER. "However by doing this you are transferring germs, dirt and sweat from your palms and fingers onto your face."
Photo: Anna Omelchenko/shutterstock
Showering too much strips the natural oils from your complexion.
How often you need to shower will ultimately depend on your lifestyle, how active you are, and your skin type. Believe it or not, though, there is such thing as excessive showering.
"Excess showering leads to loss of vital oils that the skin requires to maintain its protective barrier," Glatter explained. "Showering two-three times a day, in the context of working out, then going out socially, and additional showers can result in skin that is dry, cracking, and sensitive to touch."
In addition to showering too much, you should also be mindful of water temperature.
"We use hot water to wash our face which breaks down acid mantle (protective covering)," Burnes added. "Use lukewarm water which also won't dry your skin out and will keep the pH balance in check."
Your perfume is messing with your pH.
"Excess application of colognes, perfumes, and miscellaneous creams may also alter the pH of the epidermis—the outer protective layer—leading to compromised function which may affect its ability to function as an effective barrier," Glatter said.
In other words, apply a spritz here, a spritz there, but don't douse yourself in the stuff.
Your sleeping habits aren't so great for your skin hygiene.
There are two pressing issues that might be causing acne to develop in the bedroom: The cleanliness of your pillowcase, and the position you're sleeping on it.
New York City-based dermatologist and creator of the Sea Radiance skin care, Debra Jaliman told Health that for people with acne-prone skin, a general rule of thumb is to wash your pillowcases every few days, if you aren't already doing so daily, because "dirt, bacteria, and often make-up collect on a pillowcase."
And because pillowcases are a kind of drop off area for bacteria and debris, King told INSIDER that how your sleep position is just as important as the cleanliness of what you're sleeping on.
"Sleeping face down or on the side of our face can exacerbate fine lines and wrinkles," King said.
The temperature in your living space is either too hot, or too cold.
On the one hand, King told INSIDER that because running the heat too high or too much dries out the air, in turn, it dries out the skin, "leaving it ashy, flaky, itchy and irritated."
On the other Glatter said extremely cold temperatures can also "break down our critical barrier to the environment leading to small cracks or breaks in the skin, which can allow bacteria to colonize deeper layers leading to potential infection."
You aren't cleaning your phone screen enough.
Think about it: You cart your phone everywhere and fiddle with it constantly — even in the bathroom. It really shouldn't come as a surprise that your phone screen is actually a lot dirtier than you think, but what is surprising is how often you let the bacteria living on top of it touch your face.
"One of the most common triggers is a dirty phone: our phones go everywhere we go, which means it's harboring bacteria from your purse, the counter at the coffee shop, and everything your hands have ever touched (and maybe some more). When you make a call and hold up the phone, you're bringing all of that bacteria right to your face," Liang said.
"Sanitize your phone with an alcohol wipe daily to prevent any excess bacteria from making its way to your skin."
While [ wipes ] can be great in a pinch and at times for makeup removal, they do not clean exceptionally well or exfoliate thoroughly, and they leave chemicals on the skin which in some brands can be undesirable.
— Dr. Craig Kraffert