Bad Habits for Your Skin

Everyone has bad habits. While some of these vices might cause immediate damage, most of them will cause damage you’ll only notice in the future, when it’s too late to reverse it. Start remedying these bad habits now to keep your skin looking youthful as long as possible.

*Smoking. The nicotine in cigarettes narrows the blood vessels in the outer layer of the skin. With less blood flow, the skin is deprived of oxygen and essential nutrients. Many of the thousands of chemicals in cigarettes also damage collagen and elastin, fibers that give skin it’s strength and stability. Consequently, they make the skin sag and wrinkle prematurely. And the facial expressions you make while smoking (pursing your lips while inhaling, squinting your eyes to keep out the smoke) may contribute to wrinkles.

*Sun. The rays that are kissing your skin now will damage it in due time. Unlike typical skin aging, characterized by the development of fine wrinkles and skin growths, photodamage is characterized by coarsely wrinkled skin, due to breakdown of collagen, spots of extra pigment or lost pigment and dilated blood vessels on the face. Sun damage also has been associated with the development of cancerous growths, with some research suggesting that the sun causes at least 90% of all skin cancers.

*Popping pimples.  Like the tip of an iceberg, a lot of the pus in a pimple lies deeper in the skin than what you see on the surface. When you pop it, you push bacteria further into the skin and increase your chances of getting scar tissue. In fact, there is a condition called acne excoriee des jeune filles, which is French for “acne created by young girls.” Popping and picking at your pimples can turn a mild case of acne into a much more serious one. Leave the pimple alone, and it’ll go away. I promise.

*Alcohol. The diuretic effects of alcohol dehydrates your skin, making it look dull. Drinking alcohol also causes facial blood vessels to expand, and repeated overindulgence can cause the vessels to expand permanently, causing red, spidery veins. If you have a pre-existing skin condition, such as rosacea or psoriasis, alcohol has been shown to worsen it.

*Caffeine? Like alcohol, caffeine has diuretic effects that can leave your skin dry and dull. You may have heard, however, the recent news that caffeine may offer some skin cancer protection. Researchers exposed skin cells to caffeine, and then exposed the cells to damaging UV rays. They found that the caffeine-treated UV-damaged cells underwent programmed cell death, while the non-caffeine treated UV-damaged cells grew into cancerous tumors. When damaged cells die, they are eliminated and are no longer dangerous to the body. Though this is great news, there is definitely not enough evidence yet to advise people to drink more coffee as a means of sun protection. Covering up and using sunblock are still key.

*Not enough sleep. Sleep hours are a great time for your body to repair itself, skin included. Researchers are finding that skin cell regeneration is slightly faster at night than during the day. In addition, chronic lack of sleep might lead to an excess of stress hormones, slowing down the collagen production in the skin. To enhance nighttime effects on the skin, sleep with a humidifier to keep the air moist and slather on moisturizer before hitting the sheets.

*Sleeping with makeup on. Ladies, we’ve all done this. But it’s a bad practice. Over the course of a day, makeup will settle into your pores and might cause irritation and inflammation. The situation worsens when you sleep with your face against a pillow. It’s best to take five minutes to use a gentle cleanser, followed by a moisturizer, nightly before going to bed.

So there you have it. I hope that, by knowing the scientific reason why some of your bad habits can affect your skin, you’ll think twice before you indulge. Your skin will thank you later.

Originally written for the CavalierDaily

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