6 Ways You're Secretly Sabotaging Your Skin
Photo: Petar Chernaev/istock
Checking email, posting photos and responding to texts on the go may not be doing your skin any favors. An observational study found that UV light reflects off small screens—including smartphones, iPads, Kindles and laptops—and could go right onto your face. "If you're on your device when sitting outside, this can amplify the sun's effect," says dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, MD, who adds that this repeat exposure can contribute to everything from sun spots to wrinkles. To keep your skin (and mind) happy, consider taking a break until you're indoors.
Too much contouring, strobing and highlighting can actually age you. "The skin is an organ," says dermatologist Rachel Nazarian, MD. "It requires constant communication from the outside environment to do its job properly. Wearing heavy makeup interferes with normal cell-cycle function and slows skin's ability to renew itself, all contributing to skin aging." So, how much is too much? "You should be able to see your own skin through your makeup, otherwise you're applying too much coverage," says Nazarian, who prefers loose powders and mineral formulas to thick oil-based options, and using a light hand. Also an important reminder: "Make a diligent effort to wash your makeup off every night to help your skin maintain its own internal anti-aging repair cycle."
Photo: Jacob Ammentorp Lund/istock
Face masks have exploded in popularity, with sales in the U.S. doubling from 2013 to 2015. But go easy on the exfoliating options, like charcoal clays and some peel-off types, which can take a toll on your skin, says dermatologist Julie Karen, MD. "In response to over-exfoliating, our skin produces excess skin protein which in turn sheds, contributing to clogged pores as well as dull, lackluster aged skin," she says. "The damage is both short-term and cumulative." A better idea: Limit your exfoliating-mask sessions to no more than once a week, and follow them up with a hydrating cream with ultra-moisturizing ingredients like hyaluronic acid and soothing aloe or green tea.
Many of us associate high-sugar foods with acne, but it turns out that eating excess sweets can also speed up the aging process. "Recent research has shown that sugar damages skin fibers, which ultimately cause the skin to age faster," says Nazarian. Ideally, less than five percent of your daily calories should be from sugar. Steer clear of high-glycemic picks (like white bread or pastries) but also watch out for less obvious, sneaky sources that seem healthy but can be loaded with sugar, like fruit smoothies and flavored yogurts, says Nazarian.
Despite best efforts to be gentle with the sensitive skin around your eyes, it's hard not to tug and pull a bit when trying to remove stubborn waterproof mascara and gel eyeliner. "Chronic rubbing can lead to irritation, inflammation, pigment production and early wrinkling," says Zeichner. And "even low-grade inflammation can lead to dark circles and damage to collagen." Instead, lightly press a cotton pad soaked in makeup remover over your eyes for a few seconds, which helps break down the most bulletproof of formulas, so you can swipe—not scrub—the makeup off.
In the shade your skin is safe, right? Not entirely. A new study found that just hiding under an umbrella doesn't provide as much protection as sitting under an umbrella with sunscreen on. "This is likely because UVA rays reflect off of water and some glass surfaces and may still affect the skin, even though you may think you are protected under an umbrella," says Zeichner. This is not to say that umbrellas are not an important part of your sun-protection regimen, he adds. "However, sitting under one by itself is not enough." A better approach is to cover all your bases. "Apply your sunscreen," says Zeichner, "but also seek shade, be it under a shady tree or a beach umbrella."