Fifteen Bad Beauty Habits You Need to Quit

Photo: Zero Creatives/cultura/Corbis

While some of the things we do each morning in front of the mirror are tried and true beauty regimens that have been around for centuries, the majority of the rest — picking split ends, popping zits, using the same tube of mascara for months — are outright destructive. Of course, people have been doing all of those things for centuries too, but we’ve rounded up all the reasons it would be a good idea to stop. Because maybe, just maybe, there’s a chance at kicking these bad beauty habits for the sake of being more beautiful in the long run. 

1. Tweezing ingrown hairs.

Why we do it: A blemish that hurts and basically looks like a hairy zit is impossible to ignore.

Why it needs to stop: The truth is, you can’t grab that hair. No matter how promising it seems. “Never tweeze in-grown hairs on your own as this can cause an infection or scarring,” warns Cindy Barshop, founder of the Completely Bare spas. “To remedy this situation, exfoliate and apply pimple medicine that contains salicylic acid.”

2. Holding onto makeup for years.

Why we do it: If you spent $30 on a lipstick, or a glitter eyeliner, chances are you don’t want to admit that you aren’t wearing it every day. So you leave it in your makeup bag for months and eventually, years.

Why it needs to stop: Conjunctivitis is just not worth it. All those bottles, tubes, and pans of makeup essentially become mini-petri dishes for bacteria from your face, makeup brushes, and fingers. Ingredients will also eventually separate and/or evaporate, leaving you with crumbly germ flakes — nevermind the clutter it is inevitably creating in your bathroom.

3. Not regularly washing makeup brushes.

Why we do it: We can barely drum up the energy to cleanse our face each day.

Why it needs to stop: Bacteria and even mold will get lodged between the fibers and fester. A quick rinse with warm water and soap on a monthly basis will keep you from picking up contact dermatitis or rubbing your face with mold.

4. Squeezing pores and/or popping zits.

Why we do it: No matter how many times someone tells you to hold off on popping a zit, when confronted with a white head or worse, a painful,  swollen, under-the-skin blemish, your first instinct is, “I will not rest until every last bit of liquid is gone from this pore.”

Why it needs to stop: The relief you feel from the initial squeeze is immediately replaced with the realization that you’ve made a giant red spot that will last for days and no foundation on earth will cover. Plus, chances are you’re creating craters in your face, which will lead to possible lifetime scarring.

 5. Excessive use of Bioré strips.

Why we do it: It’s so satisfying to see those sebum stalagmites! 

Why it needs to stop: Overuse will only really further dry out your skin, which makes skin produce extra sebum. It’s a vicious cycle. Really try to keep these at a minimum. 

 6. Not washing face before sleep.

Why we do it: Nightlife/work/laziness gets in the way.

Why it needs to stop? Pretty much every dermatologist and facialist pleads that we remove the day’s dirt and grim each night to prevent pores from getting further clogged up with dirt and oil. If a full sink-style wash is not in the cards, keep a packet of hydrating and fragrance-free Simple facial wipes nearby.  

7. Plucking eyebrows between wax appointments.

Why we do it: Who wants those little baby eyebrow hairs ruing our sense of perfection while they’re growing back in. 

Why it needs to stop: Hair grows at different rates, which means those self-plucked hairs might not be long enough for the next appointment. This only means they’ll crop up sooner than you’d like post-wax, perpetuating the vicious cycle.

 8. Cutting cuticles.

 Why we do it?: Because there is no consensus on whether we should or shouldn’t. It’s confusing

 Why it needs to stop: “The cuticles are there to protect the nail,” says editorial and celeb manicurist Jenna Hipp. “The more you leave them alone, the less you will need to cut them.” To maintain them, she suggests gently running a nail file over them, followed with a cuticle oil. We believe her.

 9. Picking at split ends.

 Why we do it: It’s such a good way to feel like you’re multitasking while you’re on the phone.

 Why it needs to stop: Unless you’re using proper hair shears, once you get caught up in the effort to search and destroy, you’re actually just damaging the hair further (and going cross-eyed during the process). Instead, try this product made by the scientists at Nexxus, who figured out a way to re-bond those pesky ends back together again. 

10. Plucking grey hairs.

Why we do it: When you have a total of ten grey hairs it’s hard to resist the urge to simply extract them. Out of sight, out of mind.

 Why it needs to stop: They’re just going to grow right back, but short and stubby and more difficult to hide.  

11. Using oil-free skincare on oily skin.

Why we do it: It seems counterintuitive, but so is believing that diet sodas are good for us. 

Why it needs to stop: “I like to treat oil with oil,” says facialist Joanna Vargas, who believes that all-natural oils are better for treating skin and bringing it to a balanced pH. “Jojoba oil, which resembles sebum the most out of any ingredient, tells oily skin to slow down its oil production, and it’s anti-bacterial proerties are important for someone who breaks out.” 

12. Picking at gel polish instead of using nail polish remover.

Why we do it: Because taking off a gel manicure is kind of a laborious process involving soaking your fingers in acetone for several minutes. Plus, there’s something satisfying about getting EVERY LAST BIT OFF.

Why it needs to stop: “Ripping or peeling off any coating is a temptation you must resist!” advises CND founder, Jan Arnold. “Doing so can weaken or damage the natural nail, as precious layers of the nail plate get pulled away with each chip of polish you take.” 

13. Shampooing hair daily.

Why we do it: So we don’t get mistaken for an Amanda Bynes mug shot.

Why it needs to stop: Like the skin on your body, the scalp compensates for oils that are repeatedly washed out each day. It’ll take patience, but try to wean yourself of daily shampoos and you’ll see your hair will find its own natural balance of oil production. You should soon be able to go at least a few days between washes.

14. Overusing the Clarisonic skin brush.

Why we do it: If a little bit is good, then a lot will get us one step closer to achieving the poreless Kate Bosworth complexion, right?

Why it needs to stop: Clarisonics or any exfoliating agent should really only be used two to three times a week; otherwise, it will actually over-scrub your skin and cause dry patches.

15. Peeling dead skin post-sunburn.

Why we do it: No one wants flaky skin.

Why it needs to stop: While it’s fun trying to peel a piece that’s bigger than the last, you’re grabbing healthy skin each time too. The baby-skin below is more susceptible to sunburns and infections. Instead preserve skin by lotioning up, then exfoliate in the shower with a gentle scrub.

Fifteen Bad Beauty Habits You Need to Quit