Habits to Avoid to Protect Your Skin Long Term

An illustration of someone pinching a pimple on their face.
Illustration by Agasha Kankunda

If you are a skincare fanatic, you’ve probably researched a bunch of skincare tips and tricks. You probably also have a dedicated skincare routine every morning and night. But, even if you do your routine everyday, there are habits, in the long run, that can have an impact on your skin – and they’re not good. It’s important to avoid and break these habits early to protect your skin health now, and in the future. Your future self will definitely thank you. Here are habits you should avoid to take care of your skin. 

Not drinking enough water 

You’ve probably heard this many times, but drinking enough water is the key to great skin. If you’re dehydrated, your skin is too. Drinking enough water is known to control breakouts and help prevent your skin from becoming too dry. The recommended amount of water to drink daily is around eight glasses, each equaling to about two litres. Over time, not drinking enough water can make your skin lose its elasticity and can cause fine lines and wrinkles, according to Healthcare Associates of Texas. Relying solely on skin products to prevent skin from aging does not always work, and water is a known contributor in helping your skin.  

Not wearing sunscreen (or not wearing enough)

Many might think sunscreen is reserved for hot summer days and trips to the beach. This is not true – your skin needs sunscreen year-round, since UV rays can still reach your skin regardless of the season. If you do not wear sunscreen when outside – or even if you don’t wear enough – it can cause serious damage to your skin. According to Mayo Clinic, without sunscreen, your skin is more prone to wrinkles and age spots. It can also increase your risk of developing melanoma, or skin cancer. Mayo Clinic gives tips and advice on how to protect your skin from the sun. This includes using sunscreen with the highest SPF possible. If it is extremely sunny, make sure to reapply every two hours. Also, the sun is the strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., so make sure you have your sunscreen ready during those times. 

Lack of nutrients in your diet

Eating the right foods is extremely beneficial for your skin. If your diet lacks certain nutrients and vitamins, it can start to show negatively on your skin. Some important vitamins for your skin are C, D, E, and K, according to Healthline. Vitamin C helps protect against UV rays from the sun (you still have to wear sunscreen though!). It heals skin that is damaged and can even reduce the appearance of wrinkles. It also has properties that can prevent skin cancer. Foods that are high in vitamin C are citrus fruits, strawberries, broccoli, and dark leafy greens. 

Vitamin D helps with skin tone, as it can even it out and reduce inflammation. Foods rich in vitamin D are salmon, milk, eggs, and shiitake mushrooms. Vitamin E works to prevent and get rid of wrinkles and dark spots. If you have dry skin, vitamin E can help as it increases sebum production, which keeps the skin nourished. Vitamin E rich foods are sunflower seeds, almonds, bell peppers, and asparagus. 

Last but not least, vitamin K prevents and can help get rid of certain skin problems, such as stretch marks, scars, dark spots, and even under eye circles. Foods high in vitamin K are kale, spinach, brussel sprouts, and asparagus.  

Leaving your makeup on while you sleep

After a long day, you might feel so tired that you have no energy to take off your makeup and just want to fall asleep. While this may be tempting, you should definitely take the initiative to remove all your makeup before going to bed. If you don’t remove your makeup before bed, it can trap dirt and pollutants in your skin, according to a Byrdie article. This can cause acne and, over time, it can lead to premature aging. Also, don’t forget to wash your makeup brushes at least once a week, as bacteria can build up on them, causing acne. 

Smoking

In general, smoking has been proven to be an unhealthy habit in all areas. Dr. J. Taylor Hays says smoking speeds up your skin’s aging process, increasing the likelihood of developing wrinkles, uneven skin complexion, puffiness under the eyes and crow’s feet. The effects of the heat, smoke and nicotine can also reduce the healing abilities of your skin. This makes it difficult for the skin to repair wounds and cuts, which in turn increases the chances of infection and scarring.

Not getting enough sleep

We all know school, work, and life gets in the way of a good night’s sleep, and sometimes any sleep at all. If you don’t often have the chance to get some well-needed sleep, it can have a serious impact on your skin. According to Healthline, even one night of poor sleep can cause swollen eyes, darker under eye circles, wrinkles and fine lines. Over time, your skin could age faster if you consistently have a broken or short sleep schedule. It may take some time, but trying to manage your day so that you can get a good night sleep will be very helpful for your skin in the future, and even in the present.