7 Habits That Are Secretly Sabotaging Your Grooming Routine

You always aim to keep your skin and hair in top form—but bodies work in mysterious ways, and sometimes a seemingly harmless habit can halt (or even reverse) your progress. Here’s how to avoid undermining your best efforts.

Bad Habit #1: Going to bed without washing your face.

We’ve all done the occasional face plant on the couch after an exceptionally long day. It won't kill you to occasionally opt out of your evening routine, but neglecting to wash your face before bed does allow for the buildup of oil, bacteria, and dead skin—all of which contribute to clogged pores, breakouts, and dull skin. (You might want to wash your pillows, too.) However, if you do have a solid bedtime regimen like applying a night cream, then washing your face first will aid in the moisturizer's absorption and efficacy.

Bad Habit #2: Washing your face too much.

You knew there was a flip side of this coin. While cleansing in the evening is pretty non-negotiable, most dermatologists believe that that alone is enough. Washing twice a day—or more—can dry out skin and strip it of the barrier that guards against infection and pollutants. In other words, it kind of defeats the purpose. If you really are hooked on cleansers, a gentle one shouldn’t do you any real damage when used twice a day.

Bad Habit #3: Using a moisturizer without SPF.

Sun damage can happen year-round—and being exposed, your face is most susceptible. Sustained exposure leads to winkles, pigmentation, and even a breakdown of collagen and elasticity, causing skin to sag. The easiest way to remember sunscreen is to work it into your existing routine: Many daily moisturizers include built-in, broad-spectrum SPF for just this reason.

Bad Habit #4: Shaving against the grain.

Disciples of this technique claim it yields the closest shave, but for most guys, shaving against the grain is a standing invitation to nicks, bumps, and ingrown hairs. To prevent irritation, follow these simple tips—and if you must go against the grain, do so with caution and only to tackle residual stubble after you shave the bulk of your whiskers.

Bad Habit #5: Shampooing daily.

Guys, we know this is a tough one to break. If you currently shampoo every day, your scalp is probably dependent on it—meaning, your sebaceous glands overproduce oil to compensate for constant cleansing. Kicking the habit (experts recommend shampooing just a few times per week) will involve a greasy adjustment period, but we’re confident you can pull off a slick back for a week or two.

Bad Habit #6: Using hand sanitizer.

Recent years have brought about speculation that bacteria can become resistant to the ingredients in some hand sanitizers. While not confirming this, the CDC does warn that sanitizers “do not eliminate all types of germs,” adding that washing with soap and water is the way to go. Larger health concerns aside, alcohol-based sanitizers will dry out skin almost immediately. So when in doubt, hit the sink. If you must sanitize on the go, choose a gentle, skin-friendly formula.

Bad Habit #7: Forgetting to clean your phone.

Of all the underlying causes of acne out there, this one is the easiest to ignore. But your digital lifeline is said to carry more germs than a toilet seat—germs that you’re passing to your skin every time you make a call. Nip cheek pimples in the bud by regularly cleaning your screen with handy portable wipes or a screen-cleaning mist.

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