Health

7 habits that can harm your skin

Enjoying a hot shower may be relaxing, but it strips our largest organ of its protective oils

LATHERING UP

Who does not love the clean soapy feeling of suds on their face? But this could be the cause of dryness and sensitivity.

"Most foaming cleansers tend to contain high proportions of sodium laureth sulfate, which strips the skin of its natural oils and protective barrier," said dermatologist Teo Wanlin.

She recommends only gentle skin cleansers for all skin types, "because even oily, acne-prone skin should be moisturised and protected during cleansing".

To save face, here are some habits to cut:

SLEEPING ON YOUR SIDE

Sleeping with your face pressed on your pillow can cause the skin to develop fine lines, wrinkles and creases.

Plus, if you lie in a position that drags your face downwards, it can worsen skin sagging. The best way to keep these sleep wrinkles and sagging at bay is to sleep on your back.

BLOTTING YOUR FACE

Blotters save the greasiest of skin by immediately sopping up sebum and leaving the skin matte.

"But refrain from constantly blotting the oil off your face," said Dr Teo.

Blotting does not clean the skin or have other benefits apart from removing the oil.

"Sometimes, this can cause a condition called reactive seborrhea, whereby the skin compensates by producing even more oil," she added.

If you are feeling grimy, swipe your face gently using a fragrance-free baby wipe. This will leave the skin cleaner while gently lifting off some oil.

ENJOYING A HOT SHOWER

At the end of a long day, a hot shower offers instant relaxation and helps us to de-stress.

But hot water is not good for your skin as it washes away the skin's protective oils and can lead to dry and itchy skin or even rashes.

One way to tell if the water is too hot? Your skin looks red and flushed after you step out.

"I recommend using lukewarm or cool water on the skin, as hot water dehydrates the skin further," said Dr Teo.

SPRAYING ON FACE MISTS

Thermal water face sprays from brands such as Evian and Avene are good for cooling the skin, especially in our heat and humidity, said Dr Teo.

But the sprays are essentially just water, and while the minerals from thermal springs may have some benefits to calm the skin, they are neither moisturising nor effectively treating skin inflammation .

So do not rely on water face mists to keep your skin moisturised on a long-term basis.

"A more effective mist would be something that contains glycerin as a humectant to help the skin retain moisture", said Dr Teo.

TALKING ON YOUR PHONE

With the proliferation of touch-screen smart phones, whatever you touch - dirt, germs and remnants of food - gets on the screen and ends up on your face when youanswer a call.

So the next time you are wondering why there is a breakout on your cheek and along your jawline, ask yourself when was the last time you cleaned your phone?

So make it a point to clean it daily with an antibacterial wipe.

SWIMMING

Chlorine can cling to the skin long after you emerge from the pool.

The chemical is added to pools because of its antibacterial properties, but it can also be harsh on the skin, causing harm to the protein structure and destroying the natural skin barrier, leading to dry and itchy skin.

To prevent the skin from absorbing chlorine, apply a thin layer of natural oil such as coconut oil to give it a protective coat before entering the pool.

After swimming, rinse with tap water, and shampoo and soap well.

This article first appeared 
in Her World Online 
(www.herworldplus.com).

WELLNESS & BEAUTY