beauty

The 8 things experts really wish you'd stop doing to your skin.

Image: So you left the house without applying sunscreen again, hmm? (iStock)

You’re a grown adult, and what you to do your skin is entirely your business.

That said, if you want to keep your body’s biggest organ happy and healthy, there are a few naughty habits you should probably consider kicking. We’ve asked the experts to name the biggest culprits.

1. Using products that can strip the skin

According to Associate Professor Greg Goodman, a dermatologist from the Dermatology Institute of Victoria, excessive scrubbing, exfoliation and masks can undermine your skin’s natural defences.

“They will simply take away the defences of your skin surface,” Associate Professor Goodman says. Somewhat ironically, he adds, if you are prone to acne this could actually be making matters worse and make anti-acne creams and lotions too hard to use.

RELATED: What happens when you stop using cleanser?

Instead, Goodman recommends you opt for cleansing milks and creamy cleansers, and look for products containing salicylic acid, which cleanses pores “in a gentler fashion”. (Post continues after gallery.)

2. Picking and squeezing your spots

Here’s the one we’re all guilty of: getting a little too handsy with those damn spots. Picking and squeezing seems like a good quick fix, but long-term you could really mess with your complexion.

Step away from the spots, lady.

"A spot is an inflamed lesion filled with bacteria. If you squeeze it you can spread the infection, cause damage to the very delicate skin and end up having not only more spots but possibly a scar too," explains Emma Hobson, Education Manager for the International Dermal Institute and Dermalogica.

RELATED: Woke up with a corker of a pimple? We've got you covered.

To avoid, you know, scarring your lovely face, Hobson suggests using treatment products like overnight intensive spot-clearing treatments and daytime tinted treatment products. "They are placed directly onto a spot to heal them rapidly and effectively," she says.

3. Washing your face with traditional soap

For the sake of your face, say nope to soap.

What works for the body works for the face, right? Well, not exactly. This is one area of your skincare routine where corner-cutting could be harmful.

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“The squeaky sound and feel one gets after stropping the oils from the skin is not a good thing for the skin to experience,” Associate Professor Goodman explains. A foaming cleanser is a better option, he adds, because it’ll cleanse your skin and remove dirt without stealing your natural oils.

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4. Skipping the sunscreen

The sun doesn't disappear in winter, you know.

Repeat after me: Wear sunscreen. Yes, even when it's cold or not particularly sunny outside, and even if you're not a sun-baker. Just do it. Emma Hobson says, as a minimum, we should all be wearing SPF15 every single day to prevent sun damage and its aesthetic effect on the skin.

"UV rays reflect off surfaces and hit our skin, even when we are in the shade. They can even penetrate glass if it doesn’t have UV filters," she explains.

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"UV rays are the number one cause of premature ageing. It’s not just wrinkles you get; it’s the uneven, mottled pigmentation marks that make you look aged before your time." (Post continues after gallery.)

On the topic of sunscreen, Ginelle Kelly from Sydney's Form and Face and Costhetics.com.au says zinc-based sunblock — which operates as a chemical and physical barrier from the sun — can be a great option for people with acne-prone skin or open pores.

"They're quite matte and they're not oily and greasy," she says. "Often a zinc-based sunblock going to be healing to the skin, but also it reflects the sun off the skin a lot better."

5. Using the wrong treatment for your skin type

When it comes to skin treatments, it's not really a case of 'one size fits all'. Ginelle Kelly says it's important to take your skin type into consideration to avoid any potential negative affects.

"I think facials are a complete waste of money — they cost a lot of money for not doing much but making your skin feel good for an hour — and if you've got acne-prone skin it can stimulate the pimples more. The less you touch your face with pimples, the better," Kelly says.

RELATED: Everything you need to know about dealing with cystic acne.

"Sometimes those sort of conditions are better treated with certain types of lasers and some skin peels that actually help exfoliate the skin without touching it — a chemical exfoliation is usually better than a scrubbing action. Exfoliants with granules in them, and microdermobrasians, they're best not for acne-prone skins as they can make them break out more."

People with sensitive, fragile skin types should probably avoid microdermabrasion, as Kelly says it can potentially harm the skin's capillaries. "There are some skins that can tolerate it, but there are some skins that can't," she explains. A skin peel might be a better option if you're prone to capillaries.

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Kelly also recommends researching the various laser treatments available today, including skin-tightening lasers, IPL and BBL. They can stimulate the skin's collagen, remove dead cells from the surface and address redness and brown spots, often requiring no down time.

6. Overdoing the sugar (especially processed sugars).

Your sweet tooth might like it, but your skin probably won't.

Gorging on lollies won't just give you a sugar high — it can affect the structure and appearance of your skin, potentially resulting in wrinkles.

"Sugars cause a reaction in our body called glycation, which is the hardening of our skin proteins that will result in creating the breakdown of aspects of the skin, in particular collagen," Hobson explains. "That’s why it’s important to find products to protect your skin from Glycation, such as Arginine/Lysine Polypeptide."

RELATED: 5 hidden sources of sugar we had no idea about.

On the topic of food, certain foods and alcohol can also cause flare-ups for people living with rosacea – a common skin condition that usually begins as increased skin sensitivity and a tendency to blush, then progresses to persistent redness.

“Rosacea can cause an increase in skin sensitivity and its tolerance to skincare products, so if you believe you have rosacea, advice should be sought from a professional,” explains Associate Professor Goodman.

7. Licking your lips

Your lips are often the first casualty of cold, blustery weather, but running your tongue over them to get some moisture back is not helping matters.

“Habitual, excessive lip licking is quite common, however it worsens the dryness of the lips,” explains Associate Professor Goodman. Instead, use a good lip balm – one with SPF – to meet your hydration needs and prevent sun damage. (Post continues after gallery.)

8. Sitting directly in front of a heater

Try to avoid overheating.

Yes, it’s winter, and yes, staying warm is the prerogative. But getting a little too close to your trusty heater can “severely dry out your skin," says Associate Professor Goodman. Scalding hot showers and baths can have a similar affect, while piling on too many clothes and blankets in bed can cause you to overheat, which can aggravate the itchiness that accompanies dry skin.

RELATED: 3 reasons why cleansing your face in the shower isn't the best idea.

To stay warm, Goodman suggests a lukewarm bath with some salt and non-fragrant bath oil; afterwards, use moisturiser on itchy or dry areas.

Are you guilty of any of these habits?

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