Some of the makeup, hair and skincare habits we’ve had ever since we can remember are innocent enough, but may bear rethinking-such as shampooing every day. Others are potentially harmful. Do you recognize yourself in any of these?
1. Sleeping with your makeup on
You’re leaving your pores clogged with leftover makeup and sweat, says Manuela Marcheggiani, a cosmetic chemist and co-founder of Canada’s Isomers (Skin Care) Laboratories.
The result: dull, breakout-prone skin. Leaving on your eye makeup could cause eye irritation and broken lashes.
The remedy: On nights when you’re too tired, use pre-saturated cleansing cloths before you crash.
2. Pumping your mascara
Do you push your mascara wand in and out of the tube a few times, thinking you’ll be coating the brush better? Marcheggiani says most tubes are narrowed at the neck to provide a built-in wiper so the right amount of mascara sticks to the wand. By pumping the wand in and out you’re propelling air into the formula, which dries out the mascara emulsion so that it spreads unevenly, forms clumps and smudges more easily. You might also be introducing bacteria to the tube that could cause an eye infection.
The remedy: To get even coverage, wipe your mascara brush first with a clean tissue to remove any dried product that might clump on your lashes. Then insert it just once in and out of the tube before applying.
3. Picking at your cuticles
Constantly picking your cuticles or clipping them right off your nail is a recipe for hangnails, says Angela Cooper, the senior aesthetician for Spirit Spa in Halifax. Even worse, if you break the skin, you allow bacteria to penetrate the nail bed, causing potentially painful and unsightly infections.
The remedy: Push back cuticles gently with a washcloth or cuticle stick when they’re soft from a shower or bath. To keep your hands and nails moisturized, wear rubber gloves when cleaning, and be sure to get enough vitamin B2 (riboflavin); it aids nail health.
4. Overdoing it on exfoliants
Exfoliating scrubs and chemical exfoliants like alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) and retinoids can make your face glow by sloughing off dead cells from your skin’s surface. But too frequent exfoliation can leave skin irritated and red, says Dr. Sheldon Pollack, a Toronto dermatologist. If you have acne, over-exfoliation can make the problem worse by bursting blocked oil glands that can release skin-irritating sebum under the skin.
The remedy: Avoid gritty scrubs, advises Pollack, especially if you have acne. “I don’t recommend these products. I think they do more harm than good.” When it comes to AHAs and retinoids, limit yourself to twice a week or less when your skin is drier-in the winter, for example. If you’re noticing irritation, cut back further or choose a lower concentration, perhaps 4% AHA as opposed to 8%, says Pollack.
5. Relying on SPF in foundation as sun protection
Sun protection factor (SPF) levels in foundation tend to be lower than in most sunscreens. And you use it differently than you would sunscreen alone. You’d have to use about a teaspoon of makeup on your whole face to get adequate coverage, which you wouldn’t do. As well, many of us tend to use foundation just on trouble spots-under the eyes, perhaps, or around the nose.
The remedy: Put on sunscreen or face moisturizer containing SPF first. Give it a few minutes to absorb, and then apply foundation. The Canadian Dermatology Association recommends a minimum of SPF 30 for sun exposure. (It and other experts also recommend taking 1,000 IU of vitamin D daily in the fall and winter when you cannot get sufficient vitamin D from the sun.)
6. Shampooing every day
Some women just don’t feel clean if they don’t shampoo daily. But washing your hair that often depletes your scalp of the natural oils that make hair shiny and manageable, says high-profile Canadian hairstylist Marc Anthony. It may make hair greasier as your body overproduces oils to compensate.
The remedy: Try shampooing every other day. “If hair is flat, run damp hands through it and blow-dry on low to bring back volume,” suggests Anthony. It helps if you don’t go wild on hairspray and gel the first day. You could also try a “dry” shampoo.