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The Four Worst Things You Can Do to Your Skin

If applying makeup is an art, then your skin is the canvas on which you create the masterpiece. No amount of cosmetic artistry can conceal skin that is in bad shape. Instead, improve your skin by skipping these four habits that can leave it looking less than its best.
What we perceive as a tan is actually your skin's cry for help. The extra melanin it produces in response to a barrage of harmful ultraviolet rays may look good, but it's a precursor to all the major hallmarks of premature aging. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, up to eighty percent of what we used to call signs of aging are actually signs of sun damage. Worse yet, that damage is cumulative. That means the bad sunburn you got on your spring break trip to Panama City Beach in 1986 is still written somewhere on your face today.
Instead of tanning, learn to embrace your natural skin tone, whatever it may be. Leave the tanned hides to manufacturers of baseball mitts and saddles. Who wants to look like a "Jersey Shore" cast member, anyway?
I was a three-pack-a-day smoker until just a few months ago until I quit, so I never wanted to believe that cigarettes were aging me. Now that I've quit, I can't deny the truth my mirror shows me: I look at least a couple of years younger than I did a few months ago. Cigarettes really do add years to your face.
In addition to all the other unlovely things cigarettes do to your health, they impede blood flow to the skin's surface. The act of smoking also leads to radial pucker lines around the mouth (so does drinking through a straw if you do it all the time, but few people sip drinks as often as smokers puff cigarettes). The yellow film that cigarette smoke leaves on everything else also deposits itself on your face, so unless you wash frequently, you're marinating in it.
There are a lot of good reasons to quit smoking and many ways to do it (I've written about my own experience with quitting cold turkey, but there are plenty of other methods to try). Add saving your skin to the list of reasons to stop.
Excessive Drinking

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A few nights out on the town are not only fine for your face, but probably good for your skin in the long run; after all, if you're having a blast, you aren't forming frown lines, right? However, repeated sleepless nights and overindulgence in alcohol will take their toll on your skin.
Ever wondered where the band Gin Blossoms got their name? The term is a reference the ruddy nose that heavy drinkers sometimes develop. That redness is from dilated capillaries near the skin's surface. After enough of this dilation, those tiny vessels can burst and leave you with permanent redness of the nose and cheeks.
If you're inclined to indulge in the occasional adult beverage, your skin will bounce back from a little puffiness or dryness. However, long-term binges could lead to your habits becoming as plain as the nose on your face.
Incorrect Washing
While not as bad for your face in the long run as the aforementioned skin sins, over- or under-washing your face can wreak havoc on your skin.
Using harsh detergents to clean delicate facial skin only dries it out and removes its natural acid mantle. Skin that lacks its natural protection more easily falls prey to bacterial infection--in other words, pimples. Dry, flaking skin and shoals of whiteheads are not a pretty combination; if you suffer from both troubled skin and dryness, you may be over-washing.
Conversely, taking too much of a hands-off approach to cleansing leads to dullness and clogged pores. Always remove makeup before bed if you're able; otherwise the very thing you apply to look more beautiful will leave you with breakouts the next day.
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