6 Healthy Skin Care Habits You Should (Maybe) Reconsider

If you're the kind of person who takes fastidious care of your skin, you know all the good things you should be doing to make sure it looks its best — getting plenty of hydration, using preventative products, loading up on the SPF. But, turns out not all of these "healthy" habits are 100% awesome for your skin.
We polled three top derms to find out which common practices many women partake in that may not be so smart for their skin. Keep in mind, these aren't one-size-fits-all habits that are always awful — for most of these it comes down to what you use, how often you do it, and what your skin type is. Read on to learn which skin care moves you might need to change up.
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Habit: Putting On Moisturizer Morning, Noon, And Night

While keeping your skin hydrated is important, according to dermatologist Dr. Rebecca Baxt, you don't need to do it repeatedly if you have oily skin. "So many women think that they must moisturize their face every night, but that's not true if you have oily skin," she says.

"I find lots of patients, despite the fact that they have oily skin, have been told they need to moisturize every night to prevent wrinkles, and they do this, and their skin gets oilier. If your skin is naturally oily, you don't need to add to the oil with emollients." Her solution? Use a moisturizer by day and a drying product with ingredients like benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid at night.

Photo: Jamie Grill/Corbis
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Habit: Using A Surplus Of Skin Potions

While it's great to have a regimen, it's also important to be 100% sure that all the different products you are using are actually compatible with each other. "This can actually be detrimental to skin health, as multiple ingredients can react negatively with one another and may cause skin allergies and irritation," says dermatologist Dr. Ariel Ostad. He notes that it is also important to give skin time to breathe. So, take a break every now and then and just let your skin be.

Photo: Lucas Allen/Corbis
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Hydrate: Washing Your Face With Hot Water

You know that whole "wash your face with hot water to open and clear your pores" trick? Total baloney, according to Dr. Amy Wechsler. "Your pores are openings in the skin, not muscles, so they cannot open or close regardless of the water temperature. What hot water can do is help to loosen dirt in the pores, but it can also be drying."

What she suggests instead is to wash your face in warm water for comfort, but to make sure you have a good cleanser and moisturizer that addresses your specific skin needs.

Photo: iStock Photo
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Habit: Chugging Water To Moisturize

Here's another classic that Dr. Wechsler says isn't all that impactful: drinking tons of water in an effort to hydrate your skin from the inside. "While drinking enough water is critical to your overall health, it plays little to no role in the dryness of your skin," she says. "To truly combat dehydrated skin, you need to moisturize, as that will help prevent water from evaporating from your skin and give it a healthy, dewy appearance."

Photo: Rex USA
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Habit: Wearing Sunscreen All Day, Every Day

This one is a bit more controversial, as not all dermatologists agree. Some believe you should wear sunscreen every day, no matter how much sun you expect to get. Others think that the only people who need to be religious about sun protection are at-risk skin types: the exceedingly fair, those prone to freckling, people for whom cancer runs in the family, and those who spend tons of time outdoors.

According to Dr. Ostad, it's really not necessary to slather on the SPF 35 unless you're going to be outside for a prolonged amount of time (read: longer than it takes you to walk from your subway stop or car and into your office). Besides the whole vitamin D deficiency issue, Ostad says that piling on sunscreen can cause a build-up of oil and leave a product residue on your skin, leading to increased oiliness and breakouts. We think this is one of those scenarios where you have to take your specific needs and situation in mind and decide what's best for you.

Photo: Maria Valentino/MCV Photo
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Habit: Washing Your Hands Every Time You're Near A Sink

While being sanitary is always a good thing, there is such a thing as overdoing it. "People overwash their hands and use alcohol-based hand sanitizers way too much in some cases — they get germaphobic to an extreme," says Dr. Baxt.

What could be so bad about that? "Too much washing leaves the hands dry and cracked, and that provides an entry portal for bacteria, fungi, and viruses." Lovely. Dr. Baxt says that if you do wash a lot, make sure you moisturize every time — she suggests keeping a hand cream at your desk, in your bag, and by your sink for easy access.

"This applies to the shower, too," she cautions. "People like to scrub themselves with puffs and pads and they irritate their skin and get dry and itchy. A mild soap is fine, but focus on the dirty parts — hands, feet, groin, underarms. Scrubbing the trunk and extremities, unless you are actually dirty, isn't helpful." She also says to moisturize immediately after you get out of the shower to replenish the natural oils of the skin and maintain its barrier.

Photo: Martin Lee/Rex USA

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