"You have to be very careful with your skin now, so that it's in the best shape possible later," says Gervaise Gerstner, M.D., a cosmetic dermatologist in NYC.
According to Gerstner, here's what could wreak havoc on your pretty little face in the future:
1. Not washing your face nightly. "By skipping this step, you're inviting bacteria, dirt, and oil to have a field day and clog your pores," she says. "Not only can this result in unwanted acne, but leaving your makeup on for a prolonged period of time can also dehydrate your skin, making it look lackluster and highlighting any fine lines and wrinkles that you might have that otherwise wouldn't be visible if your skin was plump and hydrated."
2. Picking your face. "Regardless of whether you have a pimple or a spot of some sort on your face, do not pick it," she warns. "Because the moment you do, the area will become red and even get infected and turn into a larger issue if you can't stop yourself," explains Gerstner. "Then, you'll be left with a big scar."
3. Introducing more than one beauty product into your routine at once. "You can get actually give yourself contact dermatitis a red, rash-like allergic reaction if you start using too many new products on your complexion at once," she says. "To avoid this from happening, I recommend introducing any new products one at a time to be sure you're not allergic to any of their ingredients."
4. Skipping sunscreen. "A lot of young people are afraid that if they use an SPF daily they'll breakout, but the trick to making sure that's not the case is getting an oil-free sunscreen and using it religiously," Gerstner says. "The sun has it's own dangers that we need to be protected from, but its harsh rays can also cause scarring if you have or have had acne and don't protect your skin from UV rays. Contrary to popular belief, sunlight cannot dry up a pimple, so don't skip SPF because you think you're going to end up with clearer skin it's just not the case." Try an oil-free one from Peter Thomas Roth Retinol Fusion AM Moisturizer SPF 30.
5. Not extending your skincare down onto your neck and chest. "Those two areas show your age (as do your hands)" think brown spots, fine lines, redness "so instead of applying your skincare onto your face only, make sure you slather your lotion and anti-aging products on them as well," she says. That way you give the same fighting chance to your neck, décolletage, and hands that you do your face to look younger later in life.
6. Getting routine facials. "The steam used during a facial to open your pores for a deepre cleaning can actually harm you in the long run because it can burst capillaries in your face because of the heat," she says. "And extractions, even done by a professional, can lead to scarring because if the facialist starts digging at a spot that ends up being a mole or something else, he or she could cause a wound that could be there for life."
7. Avoiding anti-aging products because you think you're too young. You might not think you need to start early when it comes to anti-aging products, but these fountain of youth, peptide- and vitamin A-packed products are what will keep you looking 30 something when you're actually in your mid 40s. Want just the bare essentials? Gerstner suggests using 20 percent glycolic pads three nights a week, skipping a day in between and using a retinol-based product on the nights you haven't swiped your face with the glycolic pads. Again, remember not to leave your neck, chest, and hands out of the preventative fun. Try Meaningful Beauty by Cindy Crawford Glycolic Pads and SkinCeuticals Retinol 0.5.