6 Common Skincare Practices That Can Actively Damage your Skin

Everyone knows the ground rules for getting healthier skin: drink plenty of water; get enough sleep; take your makeup off before bed every night whatever the circumstances; all are a given. Your probably also know that eating greasy food lacking in nutrients and drinking too many sugary drinks won’t aid a glowing countenance.

But many common skincare practices can also cause skin damage and yet are part of many people’s daily routine. Here Puraglow’s Lesley Wall details some common practices which might be damaging your skin:

1. Overusing skincare brushes to exfoliate

Exfoliation brushes are very popular and pollution and modern makeup practices mean cleansing and exfoliation are essential to any skincare regime. But manual skincare brushes are far too aggressive for daily use and are not selective about what they remove. As well as removing particulates and dead skin cells they also remove surface healthy skin cells and cause minor abrasion of the skin as well.

Natural exfoliant creams and treatments will gently remove the dirt, soften and dissolve the dead skin cells which can then be removed by a gentle wipe leaving only clean and polished undamaged skin behind. The process of skin cleansing with creams also provides a gentle massage which stimulates circulation and creates a natural skin glow without damage. If you want to use a manual spin-brush for your skin only use it once a week and stop using it if using it means your skin feels tight, sore, or looks irritated.

2. Trusting SPF ratings to protect against sun

SPFs should be a matter of simple calculation. If you would begin to burn after 20 minutes without sunscreen then an SPF 30 product should protect you to the same extent for about 10 hours—20 minutes x 30. But this is highly misleading and assuming it to be correct is dangerous: other factors come into play including the sun’s intensity, your geographic location, your skin type so at best the SPF is a relative measure of protection which is fundamentally inaccurate. Some sun creams return only 20% of what their SPF promises—a factor 50 SPF might have a real efficacy of less than 10 in real life conditions.

“People think if they use an SPF 30 instead of 15, they are getting twice the protection but that is not the case”  says Puraglow’s Lesley Wall. “Nobody is getting anywhere near the SPF they think because most people do not apply enough sunscreen,” she says. “An adult would need to use about one ounce per application to have even the hope of getting the full SPF.”

Tests also show that the cost of screen has little relation to efficacy—a cheap product might be just as good or better than an expensive one.

Lesley has the following recommendations for effective UV protection:

  1. Don’t believe the numbers and avoid sunbathing. Any sunbathing is likely to cause sun damage
  2. Use sunscreen to protect against sunlight you encounter in your daily life year-round as part of your skincare regime;
  3. Use a cream rather than a spray, especially for children;
  4. In summer and warm climates or if you are exposed to sun, apply often—at least every two hours and more if you swim, sweat or towel off;
  5. Don’t use excessively on babies—they shouldn’t be in the sun anyway;
  6. The best protection is to cover up and not to sunbathe. Wear clothing that’s tightly woven and can’t be seen through. Children should wear a hat with a 3-inch brim or a forward-facing bill. Sunglasses are a good idea, too. They should offer 97 percent to 100 percent protection against both UVA and UVB rays. Avoid peak sun times. Try to avoid sun exposure during midday hours or times when you’re getting maximum UV radiation (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.).

The ‘Broad Spectrum’ claim is also misleading. A 2016 study showed 55% of sunscreens have inadequate UVA protection. High SPF sunscreens made from soluble filters are UVB biased and expose you to unfiltered UVA radiation similar to a tanning bed that will lead to chronic UVA damage over time and accelerated photo-aging, or possibly increase your risk of skin cancer.

3. Using citrus products for daytime use

Lemon or lime juice that touches skin and is then exposed to sunlight may result in a phytophotodermatitis — the sudden appearance of brown streaks or spots without any warning, with no preceding redness or blisters. If you have had a spritz of lime juice on your skin in sunlight, you could have this unfortunate experience and develop unsightly brown pigment in the pattern of the contact. Lemon or lime juice on the skin after sun exposure will cause fairly dark pigmentation.

Lemon or lime based ingredients are often used in skincare products but you should avoid any product with lime or lemon based essential oils intended for daytime use. Other citrus oils can elicit a similar phytophotodermatitis after exposure to sunlight. The reactions may not be as dramatic as seen with lime, but they are best avoided.

4. Having facialist and estheticians undertake extractions

Most people have heard that they must not pick, extract, squeeze, or pop pimples but most dermatologists recommend that trained facialists or estheticians should never perform these extractions either because of the damage caused to the pore

Even professionally performed extractions are often complicated by pigment disturbance and can result in pockmarks which that takes longer to heal and fill in, or a permanent hypotrophic scar or depression in the skin. Over time, these areas may remain as a white spot within sun damaged skin or the trauma leads to ‘broken or dilated’ blood vessels (commonly called spider veins) that are actually dilated capillaries that dermatologists call telangiectasia.

5. Taking too hot baths with bath salts and soap

Many patients complain about dry, itchy skin in the winter and a frequent, primary factor is taking too many hot baths with lots of bubble bath and/or soap. The result is dry and itchy skin. People should minimise their hot baths and use soap only as needed. Consider a warm bath with a small amount of olive oil; make sure to clean your tub to avoid slipping on a slick surface. A good moisturizer applied over damp skin is the proper way to achieve the best result and to help alleviate this.

6. Failing to use a humidifier

Moisturisers, serums, and other hydration products are essential for any optimal skincare routine, but central heating is detrimental to healthy skin. In-line humidifiers should be set to maintain a relative humidity at 30-40%. Cold steam humidifiers in specific rooms are an effective way to keep the humidity at a reasonable level, but require regular cleaning.


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