“ Stop —— your ——-!” Who among us has not grown up hearing some form of this sentence coming from a relative’s mouth? “Stop pulling your hair!” “Stop picking your nose!” “Stop cracking your knuckles!” “Stop biting your sister!” It was the soundtrack to most of our childhoods.
There was something delicious about those habits: the comfort and the control they gave us, the knowledge that we were doing something mischievous making them even more fun. And so we picked, blinked, cracked and bit our way into adulthood. And that’s when we found out: there was a reason our parents were telling us to stop.
Our knuckle cracking was creepy, our urges to pick our noses weren’t getting us any dates to the prom, and we were beginning to go bald in third grade. In other words, we learned things the hard way.
Now our relatives aren’t around, but our bad habits still are, and some of them are affecting our skin. That’s a lesson nobody wants to learn the hard way. So in honor of our parents, here are a few nagging reminders to help you give up the bad habits that your skin is going to end up paying the price for in a way you can relate to. We call it:
“Stop —– Your ——- !”
1) Stop eating and drinking so much!
Ah, good old mom, she had such a way with words! From her lips to your ears! Here’s the lowdown on why she was right. If you think that anything worth doing is worth doing in excess, you may want to think again. While you may have heard that the booze, caffeine and sugar you consume are going straight to your hips, they’re actually going to your face as well. Alcohol dehydrates and inflames your skin, making it red and blotchy, so if you want to keep the redness down, keep the booze level down, and the sugar level too, while you’re at it.
According to dermatologist David Bank, “Sugary foods break down collagen and elastin in the skin, causing wrinkles over time.” Coffee and salt: also big culprits in dehydration. Keep alcohol intake down, sip water in between drinks, don’t take a refill on the coffee ( one cup a day is recommended,) and steer clear of the dessert trolley.
2) Stop Over Cleansing Your Skin!
Next time you want to do the double cleanse, look in the mirror. You’re sure to see your mom behind you in the mirror telling you to, “Stop over-cleansing your skin!” Of course, taking off your makeup and cleaning the impurities from your skin are crucial, but try and skip the urge to lather up beyond that. Washing skin too often can dry it out and strip it of its natural moisture, which is really bad news, especially if your skin tends to be dry already.
Try washing with a cream or oil-based cleanser at night and simply rinsing it off in the morning. This should be enough to clean skin in the morning, while maintaining the necessary moisture.
3) Stop Using Those Gritty Exfoliators on Your Face!
When your mother warns against this, keep in mind that it is coming from a place of love. Parents never want to see their children in pain, and they know how painful harsh exfoliants can be. Sloughing off dead skin cells should be a gentle, nurturing process; it shouldn’t sting or make your face blotchy. That means it’s not just ridding your skin of dead cells, it’s actually robbing it of natural oils. If your facial scrub contains kernels and seeds that can cause inflammation, it can lead to wrinkles, brown spots, and clogged pores. You’re better off with a sugar-based exfoliator once or twice a week or a mild peel with lactic acid once weekly.
4) Stop picking your skin!
This is a really common one. Who among us can resist visiting and revisiting a lively zit with our (not always sterile) fingers? Overwashing, overtouching, overtreating: they’re the three deadly sins of skincare, and must be avoided at all cost. If you find yourself overdosing on the over touching, you might want to consider a salicylic acid wash with moisturizing ingredients. Follow it up with a 2.5% benzoyl peroxide solution, but don’t go for anything much stronger. Dermatologist Jeannette Graf says, “Too much benzoyl peroxide can actually dry out the zit and stop the medicine from penetrating. It will get irritated and stay around even longer.”
5) Go to Sleep!
Ok, so we kind of broke the template on this one, but it’s definitely something that your mom would say. So why should you listen? Turns out that getting less than seven hours can cause fine lines and dull skin. According to Amy Weschler, “Your skin can rebound from the occasional late night, especially when you’re young, but a few in a row will catch up with you.”
One way to make sure you get your proper amount of beauty sleep is by just saying no to social media and late night TV. It’s a good thing they’re moving SNL to primetime! Blue light from TV screens and devices can suppress production of melatonin (that wonderful sleep inducing hormone) and throw off our natural circadian rhythms, and when melatonin levels drop, and circadian rhythms are disrupted, so too is the turnover of skin cells. That can lead to wrinkles and dullness, so listen to mom and, “Go to sleep!”
6) Stop Going Out Without Applying Your Sunscreen!
Shame on you! You know that sun exposure can lead to skin cancer! Even if you’ve got your face covered, you can’t ignore the rest of your body. New York City dermatologist Dennis Gross says, “In my practice, I see an epidemic of skin cancer along the hairline, jawline, and ears.” Is that enough to scare you straight? Apply a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or above on your face and all the exposed skin from the neck down, and keep in mind that those light cotton clothes may not be enough to block out those harmful UV rays.
7) Stop leaving your face wipes home!
They’re not going to do you much good sitting in your bathroom cabinet! If you’re coming from a spin class, you’re not going to want to let all that pore-clogging oil seep into your skin, and soaps can be drying. A girl needs to be prepared: Think before you stink! Drop a few moist towelettes into your purse or gym bag. One wipe can prevent a multitude of potential damage. Letting dirt linger can lead to breakouts, dullness, and even wrinkles overtime. There’s a face wipe for every skin type; oily, normal to dry, and sensitive. Make sure to choose the right one.
8) Stop sleeping on those filthy sheets!
A.K.A. Change your pillowcase regularly. Pillowcases may look innocent, but they can easily become breeding grounds for bacteria, oil, dead skin cells, and even an excess of night creams, and as you toss and turn, these can become embedded in your skin! Experts advise changing pillowcases at least once a week, twice is even better! Another thing, what you heard about your bedding causing wrinkles in your face: truth! If you’re sleeping on rough cotton pillowcases, try swapping them out for some silk, satin, or Egyptian cotton versions. Also, you may want to plug in a humidifier while you’re at it. It can counteract the drying effects of heating and air conditioning.
9) Stop smoking!
No mom wants a chimney for a daughter, much less a chimney with bad skin. Smoking is hands down one of the worst things you can do to your skin, and if you think it doesn’t cause wrinkles, think again. Smoking breaks down elastin fibers in your skin and boosts the enzyme that breaks down collagen, and that definitely leads to premature aging! However, the good news is: your skin can bounce back after you give your cigarettes up. According to dermatologist Francesca Fusco, “Within two weeks, you see improvements. The texture improves; it’s a little smoother. Over time, the brightness comes back.”
10) Stop using those dirty makeup brushes!
Not only is your makeup going to come on brighter, your skin is going to be healthier. Not washing your makeup brushes can lead to clogged pores and bacterial infections, so think twice before you redipping your brushes too many time. For best results, lather brushes once a week with a gentle shampoo, rinse thoroughly, and let dry overnight. There are also brush cleaner wipes available, and The Clinique Brush Collection is treated with a germ-killing microbial solution if you want to skip the cleaning altogether.
11) Stop talking on the phone!
It’s rude, it can be distracting, it can be annoying, but maybe the biggest reason to stop talking on your phone is the damage it does to your skin. Even if the phone is clean and free of bacteria, it can still cause breakouts. Bay Area dermatologist Katy Rodan says, “Just leaning your face against it can cause friction, occlusion, and heat, all of which can make you break out.” Too attached to your phone to end the conversations? Consider a headset instead.
12) Stop Tanning Your Skin!
To you it may be the glow of health; to mom, it’s the onset of aging. If mom’s skin paid the price for tanning in her youth, you can bet she’ll do anything in her power to make sure her daughter won’t make the same mistake. When skin is constantly exposed to the sun, it thickens and produces melanin which is a pigment that darkens cells. According to dermatologist Flor Mayoral, “Any pigment change from UVA to UVB light can cause premature aging and increase the likelihood of cancer.” Thinking a tanning bed might be a safer alternative? Tanning beds emit an even more concentrated form of UVA light, which can be worse than the combined UVA and UVB rays emitted by sunlight. Trust mom on this one. She may be speaking from experience.
13) Stop going to sleep with your makeup on!
Falling into bed with your makeup on may seem like the perfect way to end the night, but it may not be the best way to start the next morning. According to dermatologist Katie Rodan, “Your body temperature increases slightly when you sleep, which can enhance the absorption of whatever’s on the surface. So you really only want to have beneficial ingredients on your face.”
14) Stop skipping the gym!
Mom never liked it when you cut class, and that goes for your yoga class as well. If you’re skipping the gym, you’re not only skipping an opportunity to get in shape, you’re skipping an opportunity to get your skin in shape, too. Besides improving circulation for a healthy glow, exercise can lead to a decrease in tension as well. Rodan explains, “When you’re stressed, cortisol levels rise, and that leads to acne and other skin aggravations. Lessen your cortisol spikes, and your skin will become smoother and clearer.” So, get yourself motivated and hop on that treadmill ASAP!
15) Stop putting all that stuff on your skin!
With all the products on the market promising to put an end to your skin woes, it is tempting to add them all to your cart, but the truth is, many of these products have duplicate ingredients and some may even be incompatible with one another. Dermatologist Leslie Baumann says, “Negative interactions are most likely to happen if someone is treating different problems at the same time, such as sun damaged skin and adult acne, and the ingredients are either too harsh together or incompatible.” Topping the list are retinol, vitamin C, glycolic acid, and benzoyl peroxide. If you use more than one of these, try to space out your applications and avoid layering.
Dear mom! She always knew you best. If you’ve got a story to tell us about how turning over a new leaf helped you turn over new skin cells, we’d love to hear from you!