15 Ways to Wreck Your Skin

Reviewed on 2/24/2022

Skin Sins

Bad habits may cause skin damage, so avoid them.

The largest and fastest growing organ in your body is your skin. Your skin is a protective barrier for your body, but it takes a lot of abuse from the outside elements.

Fortunately, you can preserve your skin's health and good looks by avoiding these 15 ways to wreck your skin presented below. Avoid these bad habits that damage skin.

Get Overexposed

Spending too much time outdoors may lead to sun damaged skin, including actinic skin damage.

It used to be fashionable to get a tan, but now we know better. Sun worshiping causes a host of skin problems, from premature skin aging to cancers. The UV rays from the sun can also cause sunburn, allergic reactions in some people, and produce signs of skin damage such as liver spots and actinic keratosis.

The best way to repair sun damaged skin is to avoid UV damage to skin in the first place.

Skimp on Sunscreen

Use sunscreen diligently so you won’t need treatment for sun damaged skin.

Sunburn damages skin, so don't skimp on the sunscreen. You need about 1 ounce (about the size of a shot glass) of SPF 30 or higher sunscreen to protect you from the sun's damaging rays. Even when it's cloudy the sun's UV (ultraviolet) rays can damage your skin.

To avoid sun damaged skin on your face, sun damage on your arms, and sun damage on other exposed areas of your body, apply sunscreen 30 minutes prior to sun exposure. Don't wait until you're already at the beach or pool to start applying – the damage has already started on your unprotected skin! Reapply every 2 hours, or after swimming, sweating, or toweling off to help prevent UV skin damage. If you spend an entire day at the beach, the Skin Cancer Foundation says each person should expect to use about ½ to ΒΌ of an 8-ounce bottle of sunscreen.

Head to the Tanning Bed

Tanning bed skin damage is just as bad as sun damaged skin.

Skin damage from tanning doesn’t just come from excess sun exposure. Indoor tanning – tanning beds, booths, or sun lamps – is just as dangerous as tanning outside. Indoor tanning delivers high doses of UV radiation in a short time, which can lead to skin cancers such as melanoma (the deadliest type of skin cancer), basal cell carcinoma, and squamous cell carcinoma. It also causes premature skin aging, including wrinkles, age spots, and skin texture changes. Indoor tanning Is also considered particularly dangerous for younger people – those who begin tanning indoors as teens or young adults have a higher risk of developing melanoma.

Avoid indoor tanning and all the risks it carries.


Smoking is another bad skin habit to avoid.

Everyone knows smoking leads to lung cancer, emphysema, heart disease, and stroke. But did you know smoking also damages the skin and prematurely ages it?

Smoking decreases blood flow, which contributes to skin wrinkling. Gray, pale, and wrinkled facial skin is often referred to as "cigarette skin." Smoking also slows wound healing and increases the risk for developing psoriasis or worsening psoriasis symptoms. Smoking increases wrinkles around the nose and mouth.

If you don't smoke, don't start, and if you do smoke, quit. Your skin – and the rest of your body – will reap the benefits.

Use the Wrong Cleanser

Avoid skin damaged skin on the face by choosing the right cleanser.

Don't use the wrong cleanser for your face. Your facial skin is much more sensitive than the skin on the rest of your body and it needs a milder cleanser. Choose a gentle, non-abrasive cleaner without alcohol for your face, and avoid scrubbing, which can irritate delicate facial skin. Use your fingertips to gently massage cleanser into your skin. Rinse with lukewarm water and gently pat dry. If you have oily skin and are prone to acne, use an oil-free and noncomedogenic cleaner. If you have dry or itchy skin apply moisturizer after washing. Limit washing your face to twice daily and after sweating heavily to avoid additional irritation.

Scrub Too Hard

Gently cleansing can be part of a damaged skin repair routine.

As stated in the previous slide, scrubbing can be very irritating to the delicate skin on your face and can make your skin look worse. In addition, if you have acne, scrubbing can actually increase acne lesions. When you wash your face, use your fingers and apply cleanser in a gentle, circular motion – even using a washcloth or sponge can be irritating. Rinse with lukewarm water, and pat dry.

Scrubbing skin damaged from tanning, acne damaged skin, and sunburned damage skin can be especially painful. Avoid scrubbing – be gentle to your skin.

Pop Your Pimples

Damaged skin from acne may result from pimple popping.

It can be so tempting to want to "pop" a pimple, but don't. Picking, popping, and squeezing can make your acne worse, and even lead to scarring.

Cleanse your skin with an appropriate cleanser recommended by a dermatologist, and use over-the-counter remedies that contain benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid and try to let your skin heal on its own. If the products you are using are not working, consult a dermatologist.

Repairing acne damaged skin may involve the use of chemical peels, lasers, and other treatments. It is best to minimize the possibility of skin damage in the first place and resist the urge to pop pimples.

Stress Out

Wondering how to heal damaged skin – don’t stress.

Don't stress out. When you are stressed, you might notice you break out more, or your existing skin conditions such as psoriasis and rosacea may flare up. This is because stress can make your skin more sensitive and reactive to environmental conditions. Stress may also interfere with proper skin care, which can lead to worsening of skin conditions.

If you do feel stressed, don't neglect your skin – remember to wear sunblock and cleanse your skin properly. Try stress reduction techniques: get a massage, meditate, get enough sleep, eat right, exercise, and talk to a medical professional if you need help.

Overdo It

Overdoing chemical peels or microdermabrasion may do more harm than good.

It's true, you can get too much of a good thing. Chemical peels can often help people reduce the look of lines and wrinkles, even out or blend skin tone, brighten the complexion, and smooth the skin. However, the results of a chemical peel are often dependent on the expertise of the person performing it, and should be done under the supervision of a dermatologist or plastic surgeon trained in the procedure or the peel could result in infection or permanent scarring.

At-home peels or microdermabrasion treatments tend to be gentler on the skin than those performed by a physician, however, they can still leave your skin red and irritated. The skin – especially the top layer (epidermis) – acts as a protective barrier to the elements and helps retain moisture. Doing home peels or microdermabrasion too frequently can lead to inflammation, a blotchy skin tone, and can worsen acne. Ask a dermatologist how often you should perform these home treatments.

Ask your doctor about how to repair damaged skin and about treatment for sun damaged skin.


Weight gain may lead to stretch marks and yeast infections of the skin.

Avoid overeating. Weight gain does more than just increase your girth. It stretches your skin. If you gain a lot of weight your skin will stretch, often resulting in stretch marks. Then when you lose the weight if your skin isn't elastic enough to bounce back you could be left with flabby, saggy skin that can only be fixed with plastic surgery.

In people who are obese, yeast infections of the skin can occur in the folds of the skin, and wound healing may be slower.

Eat a balanced diet and maintain a healthy weight for healthy looking skin.

Fall Short on Sleep

Skimping on sleep is a bad habit that may negatively affect your skin.

Don't skimp on your sleep. It's called "beauty rest" for a reason! Skin rejuvenates while we sleep, and our skin gets a break from the stress of environment including sunlight, pollution, and hot or cold temperatures. When we don't get enough shut-eye we can get bags under our eyes and dull and listless looking skin. We may even take longer to recover from skin stressors such as sunburn without enough sleep.

The National Sleep Foundation recommended adults get seven to nine hours of sleep each night.

Drink Alcohol

Drinking excess alcohol may negatively affect your skin.

Drinking excess alcohol is bad for you and it's bad for your skin. Alcohol abuse may increase the risk of psoriasis, infections, discoid eczema, delayed wound healing, and cellulitis. Why is alcohol bad for skin? No one knows for sure, but decreased immunity, liver disease, malnutrition, or alterations in the way the body processes lipids (fats) may play a role. Do your skin and body a favor and do not drink excess alcohol.

Eat High-Glycemic Foods

Eating a diet full of high-glycemic foods may increase the risk of breakouts.

Eating high-glycemic foods that raise blood sugar quickly may increase the risk of acne breakouts. High-glycemic foods include white bread, white potatoes, pastries, corn flakes, white rice, milkshakes, and puffed rice. These foods increase inflammation and the production of sebum (oil), both of which can trigger acne. Switch to a low-glycemic diet that contains fresh veggies, beans, steel-cut oats, and some fruit and it may help your skin clear up.

Hold Your Smartphone Up to Your Face

Holding your phone against your cheek may contribute to acne breakouts.

Smartphones harbor numerous kinds of bacteria and may trigger acne if you hold them directly against your ear. If you get acne along your jawline, direct skin contact with a contaminated phone surface may be the reason why. Use speakerphone instead of holding the phone up to your face. Clean and disinfect your phone regularly to remove dirt and bacteria that may contribute to acne.

Ignore Warning Signs

Always see your dermatologist if the appearance of a skin marking is concerning or changes.

Don't ignore warning signs of skin cancer. A mole can be an early warning sign of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. The Skin Cancer Foundation suggests examining your skin from head-to-toe once a month.

Know your skin. Know what the moles you have look like. If you spot a mole, use the Skin Cancer Foundation's ABCDEs: check for Asymmetry, uneven Borders, varying Color, larger Diameter, and Evolving size, shape, color, or other aspect. If you find anything that concerns you, or you have a personal or family history of skin cancer, see a dermatologist.

15 Ways to Wreck Your Skin

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