5 Habits That Are Giving You Bad Skin

Best of Beauty|06/02/2024

We all know the things we need to do to achieve good skin. That’s why the beauty industry is growing at such a rapid pace. However, lately it appears that some of what we do to our skin is doing more harm than good.

In fact, according to skin doctors, may of us may inadvertently be negating all our good skin karma with some nefarious habits. Are you one of them?

Going super thin (for sunscreen)

Sure, it’s a bit of a hassle to slather on the sunscreen every time you walk outside, but sun damage doesn’t just lead to skin cancer, it leads to wrinkles and sun spots. And it isn’t just the sunscreen shinners who are at risk. Doctors say that when we apply inadequate sunscreen, we may be putting our skin at an increased risk of damage. “We have a false sense of security when we apply a thin layer of sunscreen” says Dr Kenneth Lee. “Because we think our skin is adequately protected from UV, we don’t seek out cover as much as we would if we had neglected sunscreen”. However, to attain the SPF indicated on the bottle, you will have to apply an amount almost equivalent to a teaspoon of sunscreen for your face. And that’s not taking into account loss of protection as you sweat or go into water.

Many women also have the mistaken notion that sunscreen causes pimples. That’s not always true, it’s about finding the right product that works for your skin. Dr Lee puts all his post-laser patients on Umbrella, a physical sunscreen that is chemical free and acts as a skin primer at the same time.

For those who want a lighter coverage, go for a cosmetic sunscreen that works as a skin brightener and colour corrector as well. the great thing about a cosmetic blocker is that they can be reapplied throughout the day, like how you would touch up your makeup.

“Ninety-percent of skin aging is from the sun, so wearing appropriate sunscreen on a daily basis is one of the best habits you can get into to keep you looking young” says Dr Lee. He also emphasizes that it’s not just the summer sun that does the damage: “Always wear sunscreen, even on cloudy days and in the winter time. The UVA rays, which are the most damaging, can penetrate through clouds and glass, causing premature aging and possibly skin cancer.”

Living in sin (makeup)

Makeup looks good on skin but it may not always do good. Prompt removal of makeup is vital for your skin to breathe and detox. Modern makeup formulas are also becoming increasingly difficult to wash off, especially with the use of silicones and oils that confer makeup their  smudge-proof, sweat-proof and water-resistant qualities.

In fact, they cling onto the skin so well that simple cleansers may not always do a good job of cleaning them off. As grime buildup over time, your skin can look dull and clogged. This extra layer of dead cells can also prevent vital ingredients from reaching your skin.

Dr Low Chai Ling, founder of SW1 Clinic recommends a dedicated facial cleansing oil to remove all the water-resistant cosmetics from your face, before following up with a skin cleanser. “never leave your makeup on for more than 8 hours, shorter if possible” she advises “and definitely never overnight”.

Troubled complexions may want to get some clear skin insurance by going for a deep cleansing facial at least once a month, and commit to a weekly face scrub to ensure their face stays in the clear.

No Smoke without fire

There’s nothing like a good twins study to show the physical effects of a bad habit, and that’s exactly what a 2013 study published in the Plastic and Reproductive Surgery journal sought to uncover in regards to smoking… and the results were jarring (you can check out some of the pictures in this CNN article). In addition to some very clear comparison pictures that demonstrate the additional wrinkles and baggy eyelids experienced by the smoking twin, the study found that as little as a five-year difference in smoking history “can cause noticeable differences in facial aging in twins.” Even if you don’t have a doppelganger to compare your facial aging to, you can pretty much count on smoking’s negative impact when it comes to premature aging.

Smoking accelerates aging by generating free radicals which attack our skin. If you live with someone who smoke, you are at much risk of suffering the same age-related damage as the smoker. Protect your skin with topical antioxidants such as astaxanthin, found in red algae. Add on vitamin therapies to your facial regime to ensure your skin is getting enough supply of antioxidants which will fortify your skin against free radical damage.


Some people call it a compulsion. We have all been there and done that. You see a zit on your face, and instead of turning the other cheek, you decide to turn facialist and launch into ‘full extraction mode’. Picking at your skin is one of the worst things you can do for your skin. While pimples eventually heal, the scars they leave behind are there to stay.

If you are the type A personality who are OCD about flawless skin and hate the look and feel of little bumps on your skin, go for regular face peels. AHA and BHA work to exfoliate dead cells, and prevent clogged pores. Add a retinoid to your skincare regime, they work wonders in preventing clogged pores and pimple formation.

If your skin already has your handiwork written all over, then it’s time to get a grip on your wandering fingers, and seek out blemish-erasing therapies that will help restore your complexion. Pigmented scars can be lightened with Pico pigment lasers, whereas uneven scars or ice pick scars will need a resurfacing laser such as SmartX. Whatever weapon you choose to arm your skin against a future of permanent scarring, the key lies in early treatment and commit to not picking your skin ever again.

Digital Damage

This is a digital age skin problem. Many women are so addicted to their handphones that they are exhibiting early signs of crow’s feet. This is because they are always squinting at their mobile devices.

Besides committing to digital detox from time to time, relax these hyperactive eye muscles with microinjections of Botox, they work to reduce the appearance of wrinkles and lines of the eyes.

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