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There are sins of omission, sins of commission, and just sin.

Sins of omission, is not doing something. For hair that could be not getting enough iron intake and having hair loss as a result. For nails it might be not keeping the edges filed, and getting splits at the ends. For skin it could be not wearing sunscreen daily and using a targeted anti-aging skin care program so your skin ages faster than it needs to, or having severe acne, but not treating it, and then getting scarring.

Sins of commission are things you do that are just the result of bad decision making, that affect the skin, hair and nails, and badly. For hair it is that really unfortunate hair color, or decision to resurrect your 80’s perm. For nails it is wearing acrylics continuously, rocking the ends and super gluing the loose areas yourself. For skin it is going to the tanning bed 5 times a week.

And just sin is when you do something you know is damaging, and that serves no purpose, but you do it anyway. For hair it could be over plucking the eyebrows until you look like a silent movie star from the 1920’s. For nails it is biting them to the quick and ripping the cuticles off so that you can’t show your hands in a job interview. For skin it could be picking at that pimple 4000 times using your 15 power magnifying mirror, when you know nothing will come out of it, but you can’t stop picking. And then when it is trying to heal, picking at it again.

Of course, there is a lot of overlap, as when you don’t do something, and it is bad decision making, and it really serves no purpose but you do it anyway. Like not wearing sunscreen on your face, neck, forearms and hands every day. Yes, it does take 20 seconds to do. As opposed to the 5 minutes it takes to apply a heavy foundation to cover up the effects of sun damage. Clear cut categories of sin are sometimes in the eye of the beholder. And some of my “skin sins” are really other sins that affect your skin, but as my grandmother used to say to me: “Little missy, don’t try to talk your way out of this one, I am on to you. Just admit you are wrong, say you are sorry, and don’t do it again.” And as usual, she was right. So without further ado, here are my top 10 Skin Sins.

Top 10 Skin Sins

  1. Unprotected Sun Exposure. You knew it would be #1. I am not going to go into my usual tirade about the aging and damaging effects of the sun, except to say—daily sun exposure is one of the top 2 most aging things you can do to your skin, and causes skin cancer. It causes discoloration, broken blood vessels, wrinkles, large pores, loss of elasticity and that stiff, yellow cross hatched skin that is characteristic of chronic sun exposure. You know this, so put on your sunscreen every day.
  2. Smoking. Do I really have to say this? Smoking reduces blood flow in the skin, exposes you to direct toxin exposure on the skin and in the blood. And, if that’s not bad enough, the facial expressions repeated over and over etch lines in the skin. It is the other sin in the top two most aging things you can do to your skin. Whatever you do—don’t do 1 and 2 together. The effects of chronic sun exposure in smokers are much more damaging than either one alone. The results aren’t pretty.
  3. Procrastination. I see this frequently. Young people in their twenties and early thirties are more worried about hair style, eye shadow, and outfit than they are about the health of their skin. That’s because they are young, and by and large have good skin. And then in their thirties and early forties they are raising a family, busy at work. Mornings are too rushed to apply sun screen, and evenings never end so active skin care is not applied. Then all of a sudden at 45, they have an “OMG what has happened to my face” moment. And end up in my office. All of the easy stuff to slow down aging of the skin work best when you do them while your skin is still good. And they are not really complicated—sun screen every day, a retinoid (tretinoin, retinol etc.) every night, a peptide lotion and a combo botanical and fruit acid serum once a day. Add a little Botox when those frown lines start showing and a little dermal filler for smile lines and you are good. Yes, those things help later too, but it is always easier to prevent than try to fix the damage.
  4. Following every fad. There are patients who jump from doctor to doctor and back again. They try this new procedure, that new skin care ingredient they read about. Some may be appropriate for them, some are not and some are bogus. But they never stick with anything long enough to see the results they could see if they picked one doctor, committed to a treatment plan and then followed through.
  5. Ignoring your teeth. We all lose bone structure in our face as we age. When we do there is less structure to the eyebrows, cheeks, around the mouth and at the jawline. Soft tissues and skin sag when there is less underlying structure. Tooth loss leads to loss of supporting bone structure around the mouth. Teeth wear down and become discolored over time. The result is a collapsed mouth without enough underlying structure to fill out the skin. So take care of your teeth. You need them.
  6. Yo-yo weight fluctuations. The weight goes on. The weight comes off. The weight goes back on again. Repeat. Skin is pretty elastic, up to a point, when you are young, but it loses elasticity over time. At any age, too many episodes of weight gain and stretching, or too large of weight gain and skin loses its ability to shrink back. The result is sagging skin on the face, and sagging and stretch marks on the body.
  7. Picking, picking, picking. One of my pet peeves. So much so I wrote a whole series on why you should step away from the magnifying mirror before someone gets hurt.
  8. Accentuating asymmetry with bad eyebrows. Another of my pet peeves. Eyebrows frame your eyes and balance your face. Symmetry is the hallmark of a young face. We all get more asymmetrical over time but funky eyebrow shape accentuates it. The biggest mistakes are tweezing the brow too thin, tweezing the center margin too far outward and starting the arch too far centrally giving a comma shaped eyebrow. Hold a pencil parallel to the outside corner of your nostril through the inside corner of your eye to your eyebrow. Only tweeze center of this line. Rotate the pencil through the outside corner of your eye to your eyebrow. This is where your eyebrow should end. Rotate through the outside edge of the colored part of the eye to the brow. This is where you arch. Do it right and it will make a big difference.
  9. Wearing heavy, mismatched foundation. Heavy foundation actually makes texture abnormalities like large pores, lines and wrinkles look worse. It can cover red discoloration. So lighten up on the foundation. It you want to fill in some of the texture abnormalities like lines and pores, and then use silicon based translucent foundation primer, followed by a lighter liquid foundation or mineral powder applied with a sponge.
  10. Rushing around, doing too much and not getting enough sleep. During sleep many of the body’s natural repair mechanisms are more active including those that repair your skin. Sleep deprivation leads to both decreased levels of some beneficial hormones and less time to repair damage. Missing sleep for one night makes you look bad the next day and missing sleep on a routine basis can affect your appearance long term. So let everyone else do some of the work and go to bed.

It takes little or no money to correct these 10 skin sins. Just consistency and a little determination. So follow my grandmother’s “advice”—admit you are wrong, tell your skin you are sorry, and don’t do it again.

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