Sometimes habitual things can seem innocuous, since they're part of our normal routine. I spent some time thinking about the little tips I've learned over the years to make sure you're not inadvertently making your skin worse (this can be acne, wrinkles, redness, etc.), and compiled them here!
Keep in mind, if you're not someone who already gets breakouts, you may be able to get away with some of these things completely unscathed. The thing to remember about skin is that someone who's already genetically predisposed to acne or is breaking out for other reasons is more sensitive to these types of environmental triggers.
My best friend Erin, for example, doesn't really get acne, and she rarely worries about any of these things. I, on the other hand, have to be conscious of these things in order to keep my skin happy. Like I've said previously, breakouts are rarely caused by only one thing.
Pillows and towels. This one seems obvious to me, but I feel like it's necessary to mention since it's so important. Pillowcases should be changed AT LEAST once a week, preferably twice (I usually change mine every three days). I wash my sheets every few weeks, though; that's not as big of a deal since it's not in direct contact with your face. Sleep is the time when your skin regenerates and repairs itself, so the sweat and oil on your face at night is usually dirty (another great reason why you should always wash your face in the morning!). Pillowcases accumulate sweat and oils from your hair and skin like crazy, so sleeping on the same one for more than a few days can legitimately negate the good work your skin and skincare products are doing in your sleep.
Same goes for towels — washcloths should be changed just as often, especially if you refold your towels when you hang them up after washing your face. It may seem a little excessive, but if you're suffering from skin issues, this is one of the easiest ways to improve it. It might go without saying, but don't dry your freshly clean face on a body towel or hand towel that's used for other things (hair products and lotions accumulate on those towels and can transfer to your face).
Washing or moisturizing your face with dirty hands. It seems counterintuitive since you're in the process of washing your face, but you should always wash your hands first. Our hands accumulate so many germs throughout the day, and face washes aren't always antibacterial — so if you're rubbing your gentle cleanser all over your face with unwashed hands, you're also rubbing a bunch of other undesirable things all over your face as well. Try not to do anything else between cleansing and moisturizing; touching your phone or other surfaces before you apply moisturizer does the same thing. In fact, it's more imperative that they're clean before you apply any moisturizers or serums. You're spending the time and money on the products you're using, so make sure you're getting the full benefit of them!
Dirty makeup brushes. I think this is one of my biggest pet peeves. When people say, "I haven't washed my makeup brushes in months!" I literally cringe. There are no cleaning agents in makeup whatsoever, so those brushes get filthy really quickly. You wash your towels and pillowcases, so why wouldn't you wash the other thing you're rubbing all over your face? Cleanliness aside, a dirty brush does a terrible job applying makeup. You'll get much better results from a clean brush than a nasty one. This may be excessive, but I wash my brushes between every three uses (I'm sure some jaws just hit the floor). I only use three brushes, though, so it takes two minutes to wash them. I use normal, generic-brand dish soap from Target to clean them (you just run the brush under warm water, squirt some dish soap on its surface and then swirl it in your palm and watch all the grime and color run out of it). I'll be posting soon about where to find the best quality, cheap makeup brushes!
Phone. I lied, THIS is my biggest skin pet peeve, and I see it all the time. For the love of God, please do not press your phone to your face when you're talking on it! I'm sure we all know the fun (disgusting) fact that the surface of our phones contains more germs/bacteria than toilets, so please keep that in mind when you're tempted to press it against your cheek. I always had bad acne on my cheeks, so this one was kind of a no-brainer, but it's still just not hygienic regardless of the condition of your face.
Perfume. You know that "spray and walk into it" trick everyone learned as a little girl to put on body sprays and perfumes without being pungently scented? If you use that method, try to make sure you're spraying below the neck. The alcohol and fragrance in perfume is extremely irritating, and it can aggravate sensitive skin. Fun fact about perfume: If you self-tan, perfumed areas won't retain the tanner (so if you're blotchy in weird places, that might be why).
Not wearing sunglasses. This is for all the crows-feet concerns out there. Wearing sunglasses not only allows you to forgo eye makeup, but it protects your delicate eye skin from wrinkling (something about the physical blocking of the UV rays — I read it in a dermatologist's book two summers ago). I think it's a dual function, though, because when you're not wearing sunglasses you're probably going to be squinting (a.k.a. the eye wrinkle-creating expression).
This is a lot to take in, so don't feel like you need to implement all of it or like you're doing something wrong if your current routine doesn't align with mine (I'm definitely on the extreme end of the spectrum when it comes to cleanliness). But, if you're unhappy with the condition of your face, try some of these habitual changes and see if you notice an improvement after two to three weeks (the amount of time it takes your skin cells to turn over).
Thanks for reading!
All things beauty.