5 Surprising Habits that Damage Your Skin

5 Surprising Habits that Damage Your SkinWhen it comes to having flawless skin, we all know the basics: wash your face daily, quit smoking, and steer clear of excess chocolate. But what if eliminating vices isn’t enough? Research shows that we do all kinds of things on a daily basis that can cause breakouts or premature wrinkles. Take a look at these five habits that could be damaging your skin.

Chewing Gum

Sure, a stick of gum will eliminate coffee breath or help kick a nasty nicotine habit, but some dermatologists say it could be causing wrinkles too. The idea is that we repeat the same muscle motion over and over when chewing gum, causing unwanted lines to form around the mouth.

“I believe chewing gum promotes muscle over-activity and potentially breaks down support tissue within the skin, contributing to volume loss and perhaps loss of skin elasticity,” Dr. Hema Sundaram, a Washington, D.C.-area cosmetic surgeon and laser expert, told MSNBC.

Dirty Cell Phones

Think about it, where does your phone spend most of its time? At the bottom of your dirty purse? On top of messy counters? In dusty jacket pockets? The amount of bacteria found on an average cell phone is much more than we’d care to imagine. As a result, leaning your phone on your face can cause breakouts and infections along your jawline and ear. Ew.

To avoid this dilemma, wipe your phone regularly with antibacterial wipes. Your phone needs to be treated more like your hands: every time it touches a new, foreign surface, wipe it down.

Dirty Pillow Cases

It might seem obvious, but a pillowcase should be your number one suspect when experiencing a breakout. When we sleep, like the rest of our organs, our skin rebuilds and replenishes itself. Old skin cells are shed so new ones can be produced.

A buildup of dead skin cells on your pillowcase will ultimately lead to breakouts. Be sure to exfoliate your face once or twice a week to eliminate excess skin cells, and hot wash your pillowcases at least once a week.

Puckering Up

Besides skin-damaging chemicals that smokers face, unwanted wrinkles are formed when sucking on a cigarette repeatedly. The same applies to sucking on straws. Sipping on a straw may reduce your chance of touching germs on a can or bottle, but puckering your lips causes lines to form around your mouth. Don’t let your face pucker up too much—whether it’s for smoking or sipping, wrinkles will begin to form around your mouth slowly, over time.

Long, Hot Showers

Nothing is more relaxing than a long, hot shower after a busy day. Unfortunately, the heat could be causing major damage to our pores, experts say. Hot water strips skin of its natural oils, resulting in dry and itchy skin.

In a recent interview with The Daily Beast, Dr. Megan Moore, a dermatologist at Montefiore Medical Center in New York, put it like this: "Our skin contains special proteins and fats that make up a protective barrier and lock in moisture to protect us from harsh outside environments. Dry winter air, forced-air heating, extremes of temperature, and the frequent hot baths and showers we take all strip our skin of this natural protection.”

The general rule of thumb is, if water is turning your skin red, it's too hot. Yep, that means steering clear of hot tubs too (we know, insert “sad face” here).