By Dr Alan J. Parks

People, and women especially, are willing to pay a lot of money for products that promise to give them glowing, more youthful-looking skin. Sure, there are many wonderful and very effective products out there, but what most women don’t realize is that there are many things they’re doing every day that are contributing to premature skin aging, breakouts, and overall harm to our body’s largest organ. Here are nine examples of things we do every day that damage our skin. Change these habits and you’re sure to see the positive changes you’re after in your skin, no products (or money!) required.

Drinking alcohol

No one looks (or feels) good after a long night of drinking. Alcohol dehydrates the skin, making it look dull and dry, which in turn makes it look older. While having a drink every once in a while won’t do any harm, this is a habit that will catch up with you over time, damaging your skin and causing you to both look and feel bad.

Drinking coffee

On the same note, drinking too much caffeine will also dehydrate the skin, making it look and feel older than it should. While caffeine is used in many skin care products to diminish the appearance of under-eye bags and give your skin an overall pick-me-up, unfortunately, drinking your caffeine will not have the same effect.

Sharing beauty products

It may seem harmless to share your favorite lip gloss or eye shadow with your friends. However, when you share products, you’re essentially sharing bacteria. “You should never share eye makeup, lip gloss/lipstick, or products that come in a jar that you need to dip your fingers into to remove (like lotions, creams, or masks). All of these have a high likelihood of transferring bacteria and germs from one person to another,” states Dr Alan Parks of DermWarehouse.

Talking on our cellphones

Since we’re constantly touching our phones with our hands, our cells get a large buildup of bacteria. When you hold your phone to your face, that bacteria is transferred and it may lead to breakouts. It’s a good idea to wipe down your phone every day with something that will clean it and get rid of any bacteria from the day. Not only will this help with breakouts, but it will keep you healthier all around.

Using old/expired products

While using products that are either very old or expired may not be dangerous in all cases, these products won’t do their job and won’t be as effective as they should be. If a product does have an expiration date, it’s best to stick to it. Many cosmetic products don’t have one, as it’s not an FDA requirement. However, that doesn’t mean that these products will last forever. Products are exposed to dirt, germs, and bacteria on a daily basis, so it’s certainly a good idea to get a fresh start every once in a while.

Sleeping with makeup on

If your mom always hammered you to wash your face at night and never go to bed with your makeup on, she was right. (Isn’t mom always right, though?) Wearing makeup to bed can clog pores and will likely lead to acne. Not only will removing your makeup at night make your skin look clearer, it will also make it feel much cleaner as well.

Taking long, hot showers

Being in the water (and especially very hot water) for long periods of time dries out your skin. It’s certainly OK to shower every day, but it’s best to keep your showers as short as possible. Doing so will keep your skin looking better and more hydrated.


It’s hard to not feel stressed if you’re worried about something in your life. The demanding, hectic, non-stop lifestyle that so many people lead these days, however, definitely takes its toll on the skin. Stress can lead to breakouts and to premature aging. So, do yourself a favor and take a deep breath every once in a while. De-stressing will not only make you feel better, it will also significantly help your skin.

Only applying sunscreen in the summer

“One of the biggest skin care mistakes I see people making is only getting in the habit of applying sunscreen in the summer,” Parks says. “The sun’s rays are damaging all year round and you are exposed to them all the time, even in the winter or when it’s cloudy. Ninety percent of skin aging comes from the sun, so not only will applying sunscreen on a daily basis keep you looking younger for longer, it will also help protect you against the most common type of cancer: skin cancer.”

Dr Alan J. Parks is a board-certified dermatologist and founder of Parks is a recipient of the American Academy of Dermatology Community Service Award for skin cancer screening and the Edmund D. Lowney Teaching Award for teaching dermatology residents.