9 Reasons Your Skin Hates You

Who knew toothpaste and washcloths could be so infuriating?

You sometimes sunscreen

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Always. It should be always sunscreen, as in every time you go outside—rain, shine, cold, crappy, it doesn’t matter. If there’s daylight, there are ultraviolet rays; in fact, even when the clouds are blocking your sun, up to 80 percent of the sun’s harmful UVA and UVB can penetrate your skin. You know skin cancer is the most common cancer in the US; an estimated one in five Americans will develop it in their lifetime. You also know too much sun will age your skin faster—many wrinkles, dark spots, and skin sagginess can be blamed on UVA rays. What you may not realize, however, is that excessive sun exposure can damage special immune cells in the skin that combat infection, help prevent the reactivation of certain viral conditions (like cold sores), and target certain pre-cancerous and cancerous cells. These sunscreen myths make dermatologists cringe.

You sunscreen after you’re outside

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The bottle you’re using says: SPF 30 (or higher), broad spectrum (so it protects your skin from both UVA aging rays and UVB burning rays) and water resistant (effective for up to 40 minutes in the water; very water resistant works for 80 minutes). This is all excellent. But for your sunscreen to do its job properly, it needs to be applied 15 minutes before you head outdoors, so your skin can fully absorb it. In the time it takes you to find the perfect spot on the beach, set up your chair, move to a better spot, open your umbrella, and then grab the sunscreen, your skin is unprotected and can burn. Also, be sure to use enough sunscreen to generously cover all of your exposed skin, and don’t forget to reapply at least every two hours, or immediately after swimming or excessive sweating. These are some surprising places you never knew you could get skin cancer.

You use a washcloth

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Not only is a washcloth way too harsh for your face, but the washcloth scrubs off oils we need on our bodies, explains Chris G. Adigun, MD, a dermatologist in the Research Triangle area of North Carolina. “Ditch the washcloth,” she says; your hands are fine to lather up your body, and stick to fingertips for your face. And as good as that steady stream of shower water feels, limit it to 10 minutes at a lukewarm temp; long, hot showers dry your skin. Here are signs you can shower less often than you think.

You put soap on that washcloth

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Your skin hates you twice as much now. Gentle or non-soap cleansers are the way to go. “Soap has a high pH, which strips away natural oils and basically destroys the skin,” says Mona Gohara, MD, associate clinical professor, department of dermatology, Yale School of Medicine. The products with scrubbing beads and grit can be too abrasive as well, adds Dr. Adigun. When you over-exfoliate or overuse toners in an effort to make your skin less oily, you body compensates and creates an overproduction of oil, essentially defeating the purpose, explains Dr. Gohara. These are other beauty products dermatogists wish you’d stop using.

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