7 Deadly Skin Sins

All the priciest potions and skilled aestheticians in the world can’t undo the damage caused by committing these dermatologic don’ts. Thou shalt not:

1. Smoke Smoking not only makes your clothes and hair reek but also causes tiny wrinkles to develop around your lips and eyes and prevents skin from getting the oxygen it needs, leaving it dull. If you won’t quit for your health, do it for vanity.

2. Enter a Tanning Booth Just 10 minutes in a booth is the same as a full day of unprotected sun exposure; 10 tanning sessions or more a year increase your risk of deadly melanomas seven times. If you can’t accept the skin color you were born with, fake it—don’t bake it.

3. Forget Sunscreen Don’t think you need to apply sunscreen when you’re just going to be running to and from your car all day? Wrong! Just five unprotected minutes here, five minutes there adds up to skin that looks years older than it needs to. Buy moisturizer or foundation with sunscreen (with a minimum of 15 SPF) built in and you’re covered, without even adding a single step to your routine.

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4. Wear Makeup to Bed Not only is this a disgusting practice, but how lazy can you be? “Sleeping with makeup not only results in a dirty pillowcase, but can clog pores, cause pimples, and irritate the skin,” says Alison Stallings, MD, a consultant at Phelps Hospital and in private practice at Advanced Dermatology of Westchester in Tarrytown. “Remember to wash off eye makeup, too, which can cause irritation if rubbed into your eyes at night and can clog glands causing inflammation. Mascara also makes eyelashes firm and inflexible, which may lead to breakage.”

5. Pick at Pimples You may have a moment’s satisfaction from popping a pimple, but you run the risk of long-term scarring. At minimum, the pimple will look redder and angrier a lot longer than if you resisted temptation and just dotted on a little acne medication or cover up.

6. Ignore Stress “Stress makes the skin more sensitive and reactive, triggering or aggravating skin conditions such as acne, rosacea, eczema, psoriasis, and cold sores,” Dr. Stalling says. “It can also cause hair loss and make nails brittle or ridged.” While you can’t eliminate stress from your life, you can control how you deal with it. Take a walk, breathe deeply, practice yoga—your body and skin will thank you.

7. Skip Your Annual Skin Exam Every year, more than one million skin cancers are diagnosed, so unless you want to be one in that million, you need to visit your dermatologist for a full body skin exam each year so potential problems can be dealt with before they turn deadly. Of course, if you see a suspicious mole or spot, don’t wait for your annual visit: go immediately to your doctor.

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