11 ways you have unknowingly abused your skin over the years

Think Botox and fillers are the answer to youthful skin? Think again!

According to dermatologists and skin care professionals, healthy, strong skin is more receptive to these treatments, so having a good base foundation is critical if you hope to maintain youthful looking skin for as long as possible.

That said, even if you think you’re doing it all to maintain healthy looking skin as you age, there are certain habits that you should be avoiding if you’re hoping to look younger, longer.

Below, we’ve rounded up some of the most surprising ways you might have been abusing your skin over the years—from using too many different products to consuming alcohol and caffeine (sorry!).

Replacing creams with oils

One of the lesser known ways that people harm their skin is by replacing their moisturizers with facial oils. According to Trisha Moran, Founder of Aislin Quinn Skincare, oil and water have very different functions and as such play a very different role in the health of your skin.  Because of this, oil is an improper substitute for hydrous moisturizers.

“Proper hydration comes from topical application of hydrous treatments like essences or creams, and just as importantly, hydration comes from being properly hydrated by drinking enough water,” explains Moran.

“Replacing moisturizers with oils will result in dehydrated skin because oil is hydrophobic—it repels water—so applying an oil to your face without first applying a moisturizer effectively locks moisture out, and deprives you of basic hydration.”

Using certain toners

According to Barry Goldman, Dermatologist, many toners actually contain high levels of alcohol.

“Alcohol is drying and can actually increase your skin’s oil production,” says Goldman. Instead, choose Rosewater, Aloe Vera, or tea tree oil—all of which have astringent, anti inflammatory and anti bacterial properties but don’t dry out skin.

Not hydrating enough!

It goes without saying that water is an essential part of all life on earth. It’s no wonder that not drinking enough of it can have an adverse effect on your skin.

Not only does it prevent the effects of aging it’s also proven to maintain your pH levels, reduce puffiness, and prevent acne. Try adding lemon to your water for added health to boost your collagen levels.

Overdoing it on body scrubs

Scrubs and exfoliants that contain large pieces/beads can cause micro tears on the skin surface.

“Micro tears weaken skin and skin barrier,” says Goldman. :Skin can develop dry and flakey patches, become red and sensitive.”

Instead, consider opting for a more gentle chemical exfoliant over textured scrubs.

Basking in hot showers for too long

“Overlong hot showers can cause dry scaly skin and may even strip natural moisturizing factors from the skin. Sure, they feel good in the moment, but you will pay for it later!

“People’s skin gets drier as they get older but people will take the same long hot shower not realizing their body has changed and can’t take the heat,” explains Goldman.

Rushing or being inconsistent with your routine

According to Tracy Ahern, Founder of Au Natural Skinfood, you should never rush your skincare routine.

“We all lead busy lives but taking just five minutes out of our day to really look after our skin makes all the difference,” says Ahern. “If you make time for your skincare every day, your skin will thank you.”

Mixing and matching different brands

“Mixing and matching using products from different brands can confuse your skin’s pH levels and compromise the microbiome,” says Ahern.

“This can wreak havoc on your skin, so to avoid this, keep it simple: stick to one brand.”

Eating too much sugar

“Most men and women are unaware of how sugar contributes to a more aged-looking appearance,” says Sanusi Umar MD, Dermatologist at Dr. U Hair and Skin Clinic.

“In our bodies, sugar undergoes a process called glycation (i.e. similar to caramelization) and the end products, known as advanced glycation end products (AGE), accumulate and stick to our collagen and elastin skin fibers, becoming stiff an brittle.”

According to Umar, glycation also damages our antioxidant producing enzymes, increasing age-causing free radical damage (i.e. oxidative stress). Over time, our faces look much older with signs like sagging skin, reduced stiffness, unwanted pigmentation, jowls, and more. 

Drinking coffee on the daily

“Coffee is part of just about everyone’s morning routine. However, this habit is a major culprit which damages and ages our skin over time,” says Umar.

 Coffee also reduces the diameter of our blood vessels, making it harder for our cells to receive water. When our bodies are dehydrated, toxins build up in our tissues which increases the occurrence of inflammation. 

Consuming alcohol

“No one really likes this one, but in recent years, science is finding more and more evidence that alcohol also speeds up our skin’s aging process,” says Umar.

“Similar to caffeine, alcohol also shrinks the diameter of our blood vessels causing dehydration, toxin build up and inflammation as well.”

Alcohol also depletes oxygen-rich nutrients in the body. For example it lowers our vitamin A, a critical antioxidant we rely on for creating new cells. 

Skipping sunscreen

 Sun damage is the leading contributor of aging skin—UV rays interact with oxygen molecules on the outer layer, knocking off electrons to produce free radicals which scavenge our skin to replace the electrons they lost. This oxidative damage causes us to look older.

However, according to Umar, daily sunscreen (30+ UVB) can help prevent or delay these aging processes. “Most people hate the thick, greasy feel of sunscreens. This is probably the main reason why they do not apply it every day,” says Umar. “However, an easy way to get around this issue is to grab some tissue and blot off any excess. Also, sunscreen can be used together with your favorite moisturizer!”

“However, an easy way to get around this issue is to grab some tissue and blot off any excess. Also, sunscreen can be used together with your favorite moisturizer!”