New Year, new you? Old nonsense. The old you is absolutely fine, if you ask me. I hate the mass message after Christmas that we need to change our fundamental selves and outlook. Sure, most of us could do with tidying up our habits in a spirit of positivity and moving away from denial. A bad habit can't be dealt with unless we admit to having it. If you've been hiding Snickers in the cistern and eating them on the loo, or eating Bailey's Ice Cream while you sit on a treadmill in sportswear, you have to admit it before you can stop!
My penchant for bacon sandwiches is well known. Those are bad habits (the toilet-eating may be a health risk) but it's attitudes we need to tackle, and you don't do that by putting your sense of self-worth through a meat grinder and paying heed to advertising which implies that you're horrid and need to fix yourself.
My bad habits are endless. Though I don't drink alcohol, I have a soft spot for sugar and salt and I live near a Leo Burdock's chip shop, which will test the mightiest of wills at times. So in no way am I preaching at you. We could all practise better treatment of our skin, but if you stop even a few of the bad habits on this skin list, you've made an improvement on yesterday and that's great. You'll be aware of most of these, though maybe not all. Hopefully this refresher will remind me to behave myself as well! Here are some bad skin practices that we should all leave in 2014:
- Too Much Salt, Sugar, Alcohol
These substances are bad for your skin as well as the rest of you. They just are. Salt is obviously dehydrating to the skin, while alcohol causes both inflammation and dehydration. And not just if you apply it to the skin - drinking it has the same effect.
If you're drinking, punctuate drinks with a glass of water - that's good practice anyway, to make sure that you don't get dehydrated and you can monitor how much the alcohol is effecting you, so getting fluthered won't creep up on you! You'll feel better the next day and your skin will take less of a bashing.
Sugar breaks down collagen and elastin. It makes my heart ache to say that, because I really love sugar, but there it is. Avoiding processed sugars is obviously the best way to keep on top of sugar intake. If you cut it out of your tea, for example, you can still enjoy something nice once or twice a week without taking in as much sugar as you would have if you sweeten your coffee or tea twice a day! Still, as I write this I'm thinking about Belgian waffles..
- Touching Your Face
Now give me a minute. I know this one sounds odd, but there is actually a point to it. I am of course not saying that you shouldn't ever touch your face. If your nose is itchy, you go ahead and scratch if you want to. No, I'm talking to the ladies (and gents) who have their hands all over their faces all day. If you have a tendency to pull at your eyes when tired, or rest your chin or mouth in your hand for half the day, you are giving your skin a hard time.
I know that I touch my face less when I wear makeup because I don't want to ruin it. Your hands are covered - literally - in bacteria. If you work at a computer, your keyboard is a bacteria zoo. If you put your hands to your face a lot - and who washes their hands every time they use their keyboard!? - you're smearing bacteria all over your face. Some bacteria is necessary for your immune system, but if you're putting bacteria from your hands to your face all day long, your skin will struggle and break out. It just won't look clear and calm as it will always be fighting. We encounter enough bacteria daily to keep our skin working hard - we don't need to work it harder!
- Sleep and Sleeping Conditions
Sleep is an obvious one. Skin just goes grey without it. I have intermittent bouts of insomnia - I'm enjoying one right now - and the lack of sleep is visible on my skin. You know what to do - cut your sleep environment off from the rest of your home. Make sure that it is clean and tidy and that it smells nice. NO PHONES! Don't read immediately before sleeping, and take some nice wind-down time before snuggling in to sleep.
Your pillowcase is also very important for your skin. The best you can use is a silk pillowcase, as it won't crease or overheat skin. A good old fashioned breathable cotton one is great too, but change it a minimum of twice per week. You're shedding and dribbling into your pillow every night. A clean pillow case gives your skin a break from exposure to all the icky traces we leave on pillows after a night of sleep.
- Dump Your Face Wipes in the BIN!!!
I'm sorry, but I absolutely insist on this one, and I won't have a word of sass from you about it. We all have makeup removal emergencies, we've all been standing next to our bed at 4am holding an egg mcmuffin that we didn't buy and contemplating whether or not to sleep in our makeup.
But taking it off with wipes is only a tiny bit better than taking it off at all! If you don't have them in the house, you can't put those alcohol-saturated evils on your mug. In a fix, remove makeup with cotton pads (I like the big square ones for babies, as they don't lint and you only need two) and micellar water. It's just as quick as a wipe, but it's oil-based, so it cleans more thoroughly and doesn't inflame skin like wipes. It's a little bit of extra effort, but your skin will look and feel better for it.
- Don't Neglect Your Body
Of course the skin on your body matters too. Not just for shallow reasons like lines and wrinkles, but because we should all be attuned to changes in our skin. During the winter, I'm completely guilty of neglecting my legs in particular. I don't moisturise them as often as I should, and I often forget to have a glance at places like my back, or the back of my knees, just to keep track of freckles or any changes in my skin.
That's a very bad habit, especially considering that skin cancer rates have rocketed in the past two decades. So do a little skin check every once in a while, just as you'd do a breast check, and always use an SPF of at least twenty in sunny weather; fifty for small children. Any growth or change in the appearance of moles merits a visit to your GP. Keeping an eye on your skin can save your life as well as keeping you looking so utterly like a Goddess that all your neighbours hate the very sight of you!
Do you have any bad skin habits you're leaving in 2014? And what are the good habits you want to adopt this year? Share your feelings (and optional hilarious photos of hideously flaky winter legs - mine look horrifying) in the comments!