Sometimes habits are hard to break – especially if you’re not convinced you’re doing anything so wrong anyway. Here’s what the dermatologists have to say about ways to avoid the pitfalls and improve the appearance of your skin.
SKIP THE MORNING LATHER
If you have dry skin, scrubbing your face with soap or cleanser first thing in the morning could make matters worse.
Doctor’s advice: Rinse with just water in the morning instead, and wash your face with cleanser at night. ‘Water is enough to clean your skin, and you’ll retain more of the moisturising oils,’ says Ellen Marmur, a cosmetic and dermatologic surgeon at Mount Sinai Medical Center.
COOL DOWN YOUR WORKOUT
If your skin can’t take the heat, get out of the gym. High temperatures in fitness classes (Bikram yoga, Spinning, for example) may trigger hyperpigmentation, especially in areas like the face that are already exposed to the sun, says Hema Sundaram, a Washington, D.C., dermatologist.
Doctor’s advice: If you’re prone to brown patches, consider vigorous alternatives like Ashtanga yoga and don’t go into the sauna.
CHANGE YOUR BED LINEN
If acne’s a problem, your pillowcases may be part of the cause. ‘They collect skin oil, dead skin cells, bacteria, and excess night creams,’ says Bank. ‘As you toss and turn, all of that is deposited right into your pores.’
Doctor’s advice: Change your pillowcases at least once a week, but twice is better, says David Bank, a professor of dermatology at Columbia University/New York-Presbyterian Hospital.
DON’T SKIMP ON SLEEP
Chronic lack of sleep triggers a chain reaction of events that reduces collagen production, cell turnover, and barrier repair. ‘Your skin looks duller and drier, and wrinkles will form more easily,’ says Howard Sobel, a clinical attending physician in dermatology at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.
Doctor’s advice: A warm shower or bath raises the body’s core temperature. When it begins to drop again, the hormone melatonin is released, making us sleepy, says psychologist and sleep medicine expert Michael Breus. Stay under the water for ten minutes. Since heat can dry out the skin, make sure to moisturise before you go to sleep.
SWITCH YOUR PILL
Oral contraceptives can upset your skin, since hormones in birth control pills make pigment cells more sensitive to the sun, resulting in brown blotches.
Doctor’s advice: Talk to your doctor about switching to a low-dose oestrogen formula, or the non-oestrogen type of contraception known as the mini pill, says Sundaram. Wearing sunscreen will also help. ‘If you’ve had hyperpigmentation on the pill, you’re likely to be sensitive during a pregnancy, too,’ she says. In both cases, higher levels of hormones are to blame.
Consider adopting these five easy and doable habits and you can make a big difference to the state of your skin.
Written by Mary Rose Almasi, this article originally appeared in Allure