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The Bad Beauty Habits You Need To Stop

7 MIN READ • 27th January 2024

Guilty of sleeping in your make-up? Not drinking enough water? Here’s how to knock those bad habits on the head and say hello to healthy, radiant skin…

We’re all guilty of sticking to bad habits – especially when it comes to our beauty routine. Perhaps the thought of cleansing your face after a busy day at work is just too much, or maybe you’re terrible at forgetting to use SPF. Either way and whatever your bad beauty habit is, by switching up your regime focusing on making a few small changes, you can make a big difference to your complexion.

“Being our largest organ, the condition of our skin is very much reflective of our overall health,” says Rossi Cartlidge, product formulator and founder of Handmade Naturals ( “In addition to taking care of our bodies from the inside with high quality nutrition, our skin needs looking after on the outside too. Neglecting your skin by not following a good skincare routine will ultimately show on the outside via dryness, congestion or dull and uneven skin tone.”

Ready to say hello to a more radiant, glowing you? It’s time to stop these bad habits now…

Bad beauty habit #1: Not cleansing your face before bed

Even the thought of it makes beauty experts groan, and yet so many of us still do it – go to bed with our make-up on. But this really is a no-no if you’re aiming for beautiful, healthy skin, as Rossi explains. “Not cleansing your skin before bedtime is a bad habit that can over time lead to congestion and even eye infections if mascara or eye liner is being consistently left on,” she says. “Cleansing the skin removes not only impurities but also dead skin cells which can build up and cause outbreaks. Gently cleansing and moisturising before bed ensures your skin is clean and happy and, just like our other organs, can do its own repair overnight.”

How to break it

We know that on some evenings even just putting your PJs on feels exhausting, but believe us when we say that those five minutes spent cleansing your skin really will be worth it. Try to get into a routine with your cleanser, and use one that suits the needs of your visage. “Opt for a natural non-alcohol-based cleanser which won’t strip your skin’s natural lipid barrier and which will work in synergy with your moisturiser to restore moisture levels and skin hydration,” Rossi advises. And, don’t forget to cleanse your face every night even if you’ve not worn make-up too. It will help rid the skin of dirt picked up during the day and de-clog your pores.

Bad beauty habit #2: Using out-of-date makeup and skincare

It’s common knowledge that we shouldn’t eat foods when they’re past their use-by dates, but how often do you check your favoured skincare serums and beauty items? “Make-up and skincare products have use-by dates for a reason,” says skin and hormone doctor Dr Sophie Shotter ( “The bottle will tell you how long it’s okay to use after opening, and beyond that problems can arise, such as unstable ingredients and increased bacterial load.”

How to break it

Need an excuse for a spring clean? This is it. Take stock of what you have in your bathroom cabinets and be ruthless. “Look on the back of the bottle and if it’s been open for longer than suggested, bin it and start afresh,” recommends Sophie.

Bad beauty habit #3: Not cleaning your make-up brushes

Go on, admit it. When was the last time you properly cleaned your make-up brushes? If you’re anything like us, it’s a date that’s long past. But do you know what damage this could be doing? “We reach for our foundation and blusher brushes without much thought as to the bacteria that is lurking between the bristles,” says Sarah Murrell, a skin health expert and the co-founder of By Sarah London ( “Dust, pollution, dead skin cells and excess oil all accumulate after every-day use and can include harmful bacteria that disrupts our skin’s microbiome; an ecosystem of tiny microorganisms that collectively support our skin immunity and skin’s natural restorative processes. When your skin’s microbiome is imbalanced, it can show up as everything from acne, psoriasis and eczema to rosacea, dryness or sensitivity.”

How to break it

It’s a simple solution, but one that really works. “Aim to clean your make-up brushes at least weekly in lukewarm water and lay them to dry over the sink,” advises Sarah. “Take care of your brushes, and they’ll take care of you.” Amen to that.

Bad beauty habit #4: Not layering your skincare correctly

Did you know there’s a correct order in which to apply skincare so their ingredients benefit your face in the best way possible? If not, listen up, because doing it wrong could mean your products are rendered ineffective, or – worse still – your skin becomes irritated. And while we’re on the subject of products, don’t forget it’s also essential not to overload your face with too many different serums, moisturisers and so on. As tempting as it can be to try all the products under the sun in one sitting, this isn’t conducive to a happy, radiant complexion, and can instead result in angry, inflamed skin that’s prone to break outs.

How to break it

So, what to do? First of all, remember that less is usually more. “In general, stick to simple routines that make sense for your skin type and concerns, without overdoing it,” says Dr Soma (@dr.somaskin), a dermatologist working closely with Aveeno ( “Too many products can irritate the skin.” And when layering up? “The general principle is to put the most potent ingredients first, starting from the product with the runniest consistency and ending in the thickest,” Dr Soma recommends. “So, for example, if you use a toner, that goes first, followed by a serum, then a moisturiser. If you use various different serums, put them in order of importance in terms of any skin issues you want to address.”

Bad beauty habit #5: Not drinking enough water

Are you drinking enough water each day? If you’re answering honestly, the chances are you’re probably not. A few sips grabbed here and there combined with copious amounts of coffee just isn’t enough to fully hydrate your body and give your system what it needs to perform optimally. And this can impact your complexion. “Not drinking enough water will leave your skin dehydrated and might even cause dry and flaky skin,” confirms Rossi.

How to break it

“One of the most important things you can do for your skin, in addition to eating a healthy and balanced diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, beans and nuts (which will supply your body with vital antioxidants and phytonutrients needed to combat everyday stresses), is to make sure that you are well hydrated,” says Rossi. “Aim for around eight glasses of liquid each day – although know that this goal depends on the time of year and your activity level.”

Bad beauty habit #6: Sleeping on a dirty pillowcase

We know, we know – in between helping the kids with their homework, cooking dinner and making sure your work emails are up to date, it’s easy to get behind on the washing, but sleeping on less-than-clean bedding can have dire consequences for our complexion. “When sleeping on a dirty pillowcase, we’re more exposed to pathogens and aggressors that weaken our skin immunity and disrupt the skin’s natural barrier function,” says Sarah. The same also goes for anything else that touches your face – and yes, that means your phone, your hands and your hair.

How to break it

“Aim to wash your pillows weekly with an ecodetergent, and look for skincare formulas that actively support your skin microbiome,” advises Sarah. And don’t forget to wash your hands and wipe down your phone regularly too. After all, one study found that mobile phones can carry 10 times more bacteria than most toilet seats. Gross!

Bad beauty habit #7: Taking showers that are too hot

Is there anything better than a nice hot shower when it’s freezing outside? But as gratifying as it feels in the moment, it turns out that a steamy soak may not be quite as good for your complexion as you think. “Hot showers can be very drying for the skin, and anyone who struggles with dehydration or dry, irritated skin needs to try to bear this in mind,” says Sophie. The reason for this is that it can strip the skin of the sebum – the oily substance that moisturises and protects your skin – and dehydrate your visage.

How to break it

“Turn your showers down so they’re at a warm but not hot temperature, and limit your time in the water,” suggests Sophie, who adds that you should aim for a maximum of five minutes. At least your water bills will thank you!

Bad beauty habit #8: Not wearing SPF

You’ve probably heard it a million times, and it’s true – it really is important to wear SPF throughout the whole year, not just in summer. But do you do it? We’d put money on the fact that at least some of you are guilty of forgetting. “Exposure to harmful UV rays is the number one cause of skin ageing and skin cancer, so protecting your skin from the sun is important for a multitude of reasons,” says Dr Soma.

How to break it

The easiest way to remember to use SPF is to incorporate it into your routine. Many foundations and daily moisturisers include SPF in their formulations, which means you don’t need to think about adding an additional product to your bathroom cabinet. “Dermatologists recommend a sunscreen of factor 30 or above and most people don’t use anywhere near enough,” advises Dr Soma. “About two finger lengths of sunscreen is sufficient for your face.”

Bad beauty habit #9: Overexfoliating

We all know that exfoliating can help create a glowing, radiant complexion that feels fresh and clean, but problems can occur if you’re over-exfoliating. “Overexfoliating with both acids and scrubs is unhealthy for the skin,” says Sophie. “It can thin the skin and cause barrier dysfunction, and scrub products can actually cause micro tears too.” Ouch! So, while efficient exfoliation can help remove old cells, doing it too regularly or vigorously can take off the top layer of your skin and leave it inflamed.

How to break it

The key is to follow the guidelines on the back of your exfoliating products, even if you’re tempted to try to slough away dead skin cells more regularly that the brand advises. And if your skin has been damaged from over-use, Sophie suggests focusing on a barrier-healing regime. “Try replacing exfoliants with a PHA product which is more gentle, and use plenty of ceramides to help the barrier recover before reintroducing stronger acids,” she says.

Bad beauty habit #10: Picking your skin

It can be very tempting to pick at your face and squeeze any annoying spots that come up – but this urge can be doing more harm than good. “If your skin is congested and you get outbreaks, it is super important that you leave your skin alone. Picking and squeezing might seem like a good idea to get the spot to heal by removing what is visible on the surface but in fact that might lead to infections and longer lasting outbreaks,” says Rossi.

How to break it

It sounds simple, but leaving your spots alone can help them recover far quicker than if you prod and poke them. But, if you feel you need some extra help, there are some great natural products on the market to help calm inflamed skin. “If the spot is particularly bothersome, you can apply a calming toner with aloe vera or chamomile or perhaps dab a little diluted tea tree or manuka oil and allow your skin heal on its own,” says Rossi.

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