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The Three Most Important Things You Can Stop Doing For Your Skin

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There is plenty of advice these days on what to do for healthier, more beautiful skin, but very few professionals concern themselves with what bad habits you should quit in order to have the most beautiful skin possible.

But doing away with practices that damage your beauty is just as important as what you do right. Stop any or all of these three skin-damaging habits and you will increase your chances of having radiant Outer Beauty for years to come.

1. Stop smoking. There is perhaps nothing more detrimental to your health than cigarette smoking, and that includes your skin. Smoking damages collagen, which over the years causes the skin to sag and produces wrinkles, including the infamous “marionette lines” on the sides of the mouth. Smoking also constricts blood vessels, reducing blood flow to skin, which in turn reduces the oxygen supply and hampers the skin’s ability to rid itself of waste products. Smoking also thins the skin, contributing to the characteristic smoker’s pallor. If you want to do one thing to instantly improve your beauty, give up the Camels.

2. Stop going out without sun protection. Sunscreen isn’t enough, either. Recent studies show that many sunscreens don’t offer equal protection against UVA and UVB rays. Your best protection against skin damage and skin cancer is a blend of measures: wearing broad-spectrum sunscreen and reapplying it every two hours; wearing UV protective clothing and a hat when possible; and simply avoiding sun exposure altogether as long as your shadow is shorter than you are. Overexposure to ultraviolet rays has been conclusively proven to cause melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, but that’s not the only danger. Too much sun ages your skin, dehydrates it, damages collagen and causes premature wrinkling.
3. Stop using damaging products. Home scrubs, high-alcohol facial washes and those blackhead-removing strips do more harm than good. They can cause micro-tears in your skin, dry it out and over the long term, do real damage. Instead, talk to your dermatologist or aesthetician about professional-quality products or in-office procedures like microdermabrasion.

There is a great deal you can do right to give yourself the beautiful, youthful skin you know is in there somewhere. Start by quitting harmful habits and you’ll have made a wonderful beginning.

Debra Luftman, MD is a board-certified dermatologist and the creator of the Therapeutix skin care line of products. She is the co-author of the book The Beauty Prescription (Contemporary, 2008).

Add a Comment4 Comments

About the third point concerning the damaging skin care products: when a teenager, I used a product that, at the time, was a popular treatment for pimples and acne. However, I did not have acne, simply the occasional adolescent pimple. A couple of uses of the product caused a chemical burn that peeled at least one layer of skin off one side of my nose. It took years for my skin tone to even out.

Young adults need to be educated in proper skin care, and for their skin types. I spent a few years in the cosmetics industry doing just that by teaching a skin care class as part of our local high school health class, and, hopefully, saving a few kids from experiencing what I did at their ages.

Point 3 well-taken! I just wish I had known sooner.

August 11, 2009 - 7:40pm
EmpowHER Guest

Here is what the World Health Organization (WHO) says about sunscreens in the IARC Hand books of Cancer Prevention: Sunscreens “Sunscreens probably prevent squamous-cell carcinoma of the skin when used mainly during unintentional sun exposure. No conclusion can be drawn about the cancer-preventive activity of topical use of sunscreens against basal-cell carcinoma and cutaneous melanoma.” The US Centre for Disease and Control (CDC) in their MMWR Recommendations and Report: Counseling to Prevent Skin Cancer said “Sunscreen had no effect on basal cell cancer” and want on to say “There are no direct data about the effect of sunscreen on melanoma incidence” “Several epidemiologic studies have found higher risk for melanoma among users of sunscreens then among nonusers”

A new book by Master Dermatologist Dr Bernard Ackerman titled, “The Sun and the Epidemic of Melanoma: Myth on Myth” presents data suggesting that sunlight and melanoma have no actual causal relationship. In his book Ackerman writes, “The American Academy of Dermatology, for decades, has kept up a drumbeat on behalf of faith in an epidemic of melanoma and rays of the sun as the major cause of it, at the same time that it has flayed, incessantly, the tanning bed industry. Although the organization is termed an Academy, never has it presented in fashion academic a whit of evidence, available readily, contrary to its position entrenched, namely, there is no epidemic of melanoma ... and that tanning beds have not been proven to be a cause direct of melanoma.” Ackerman, in the second edition of his book which was published this year, continues, “It is our contention that without an inherent basis genetic, a melanoma does not come into being and, in the absence of such predilection, sunlight alone is incapable of provoking melanocytes to proliferate in a manner malignant.” Dr Bernard Ackerman, who won the Master Dermatologist award for 2004 from the American Academy of Dermatology and who is considered a pioneer in the field of dermatopathology

August 11, 2009 - 4:48pm
EmpowHER Guest

Hi Debra Luftman,Your article is great.Sun overexposure contributes to the majority of skin cancers in the world.Even the American Cancer Society (ACS) says skin cancers account for nearly 50 percent of all cancers in America.I came across an article which explained some 10 ways how the sun sneakily damages your skin.Note the following link.May be it is useful for the readers.

August 11, 2009 - 5:44am

Great article. I was aware of the first two points, of course, but not aware of the third. Very interesting. I didn't know that how you cleanse your face could be damaging. Thanks for the info!

August 10, 2009 - 3:32pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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