Healthy Skin Mistakes Even Smart Women Make


Now that the weather’s getting cooler and your tan is starting to fade, you may notice a less-than-glowing complexion. That may be because a few of your daily habits are actually sabotaging your natural glow. Consider the following common mistakes -- and learn how you can finally score super-healthy skin.

Healthy Skin Sabotager No. 1: Exfoliating daily. Scrubbing off the outer layer of dead skin cells can reveal a glowing complexion underneath. But do it too often, and you’ll remove the natural lipid barrier that protects the skin, says Maggie Hazard, lead aesthetician for The Spa and Wellness Center at Stowe Mountain Lodge in Vermont. That may leave your skin vulnerable to bacteria, setting the stage for acne and other blemishes. To make matters worse, your skin may overcompensate by producing excess oil, adds Hazard.

Avoid using an exfoliating product every morning and evening, says Dr. Ahmet Altiner, an assistant professor of dermatology at Weill Cornell Medical College and owner of UWS Dermatology & Skin Care in New York City. “It can irritate the skin,” say Altiner. “I tell my patients not to exfoliate more than three times a week.” Scrubbing your face vigorously with a washcloth can have the same effect; use your hands to lather up instead.

Healthy Skin Sabotager No. 2: Skipping the sunscreen. Experts estimate that 98 percent of Americans don’t regularly use sunscreen during the winter months. That’s worrisome, since the sun’s rays are just as powerful as in the summer. Plus, you can still get burned on cloudy days, says Hazard. 

“Many people forget about sunscreen because they’re more covered up,” says Hazard. “But their heads and hands are still susceptible to burns -- especially if they’re out skiing or playing in the snow.” In fact, snow reflects about 80 percent of those damaging UV rays, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. That can put you at greater risk for sun damage and skin cancer. To stay safe, apply a product with SPF 30 before heading outside.

Healthy Skin Sabotager No. 3: Reaching for any old tissue. When your nose is running, it’s tempting to reach for the closest paper product around. But rough tissues can irritate skin, says Hazard. “If you’ve got the sniffles, look for facial tissues with lotion,” adds Hazard. They’re gentler, which can prevent your skin from cracking.

Still have a red, raw nose? Skip the petroleum jelly, which can clog pores. For healthy skin, apply a thin layer of healing ointment or skin oil, like pressed olive leaf oil.

Healthy Skin Sabotager No. 4: Heading to bed without washing your face. Throughout the day, oil and bacteria builds up on the skin, along with any remaining makeup from the morning. “These particles can clog the pores overnight, raising the risk for a breakout,” says Hazard.

Take the extra five minutes to wash your face before hitting the sack. You may also want to stash a pack of makeup remover wipes by your bedside for those evenings when you just want to crawl under the covers.

Healthy Skin Sabotager No. 5: Putting on lotion before bedtime. Dry, itchy skin is a top cold-weather complaint. But a simple change can make all the difference: Rub on your lotion after you step out of the shower or wash your face. “Applying lotion on slightly damp skin locks in the moisture,” explains Altiner. You don’t need to be dripping wet -- simply pat yourself down with a towel and lather on a liberal amount of moisturizer. Allow it to soak in for a few minutes, and then wipe off any excess. The result: soft, healthy skin.

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by Sharon Liao