You can damage your skin with everyday habits without realizing the cumulative effect. There are many common habits, such as eating too many sweets and refined carbs, that affect your skin. Fresh fruits and antioxidants can prevent some of this damage, according to WebMD.1

Even long, hot showers can strip the skin, dry it out, and cause pruning. However, not washing your face before bed can result in skin damage from dirt, oil, pollution, and environmental contaminants. Despite these examples, there are five daily habits that are more surprising because of the level of skin damage that they can generate.

1. Skipping Sunscreen

Although most people now understand the risks of too much sun, it’s easy to ignore when you’re young and healthy. If you’re not directly lying in the sun, it’s easy to forget the sunscreen. For a time, suntans look spectacular, but they almost always generate a price that’s taken out of your skin. Getting some sun — even for limited periods of time — without using sunscreen can result in sunburn, skin cancer, damaged blood vessels, and dry, leathery skin.

The sun dries the skin, discolors it, and makes it appear thicker. Small blood vessels are damaged, and your skin no longer gets a full complement of nutrients and minerals. Weakened skin is more susceptible to skin disorders, cancer, and bruising.

You should wear protective clothing outdoors during sunny days including a wide-brimmed hat. Use sunscreen when you do go out for some sun or outdoor activities like swimming. Use a sunscreen with a high SPF number to offer the most protection.2

2. Using Your Phone Regularly

Almost all people today seem to be glued to their mobile phones at the cheek. You probably carry your phone everywhere and consult it first thing in the morning and right before you go to bed. Unfortunately, phones harbor viruses and bacteria that can make you sick and generate skin problems.3

There is also evidence that frequent phone use can cause carpal tunnel syndrome, and texting can cause nerve pain and spasms in the hands, arms, neck, and shoulders. Best practices for preventing the pain and damage of frequent phone use is to hold your phone properly, maintain good posture, and clean your phone frequently with antibacterial wipes.

3. Smoking

If you are a smoker, you already know something about the health risks of smoking. Smoking damages the lungs, heart, and brain, and it can even affect your sex life.

You might be more willing to quit if each cigarette caused a blemish or skin lesion. Well, in a very real sense, smoking does just that. Smoking can damage your skin in the following ways:

  1. Creating bags under your eyes
  2. Developing psoriasis and other skin conditions at a 60 percent higher rate than those who don’t smoke
  3. Getting premature wrinkles
  4. Staining your fingers, nails, and teeth a yellowish color
  5. Losing hair because it damages follicles and produces cell-damaging free radicals
  6. Taking longer to heal because of vasoconstriction
  7. Depleting nutrients necessary for skin health4

4. Leaving Makeup on Overnight

Leaving your makeup on overnight can contribute to clogged pores, excess turnover of skin cells, and conditions like dermatitis. The problem is compounded if you have pre-existing conditions such as eczema or rosacea.5

Leaving your makeup on can sensitize your skin to certain ingredients that cause allergic dermatitis, which can lead to developing an unappealing rash. The best practice is to remove your makeup at night. You should also use beauty products that are noncomedogenic and hypoallergenic. Makeup should also be chosen based on your skin type: oily, sensitive, dry, and normal.

You might understand your skin type but fail to recognize underlying skin disorders that makeup can aggravate. So, cleaning your skin before bed just makes good sense.

5. Drinking Alcohol

Everyone knows someone who drinks so much that he or she develops a reddened nose with burst capillaries. That’s one of the most obvious skin problems associated with drinking alcohol, but there are many more. Just one drink can destroy collagen, generate free radicals that attack skin membranes, and deplete the skin’s supply of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients.6

The skin can’t process its waste — which is substantial because it’s the body’s largest organ — if the liver is overextended from metabolizing the aldehydes in alcohol. Skin toxins run rampant to damage cells and generate skin eruptions like acne. Drinking speeds the aging process and depletes vitamin A, which is needed to repair mucous membranes and produce collagen for skin flexibility.

Best Practices for Skin Care

Best practices for skin care include moderation and balance in diet, sunbathing, and makeup use. If your skin is sensitive, use products made for sensitive skin and people with allergies. Test your cosmetics on a localized area of your neck for a week or two before using it on your face. If you develop severe skin blemishes and problems, consult a professional dermatologist to rule out diseases. Most importantly, you should try to simplify your daily routine and choose products that have been specifically formulated for your skin type.