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12 Ways to Wreck Your Skin

Skip these skincare no-nos and say “yes” to beautiful, youthful skin.

WebMD Feature

Your skin is the largest organ in your body, so it gets a lot of abuse. You put your skin at risk when you leave it  unprotected outdoors or in settings that are environmentally risky. You also put it at risk when you skimp on your at-home skincare routines.

Here's what not to do if you want to preserve your skin.

1. Get Overexposed

There was a time when people thought it was perfectly fine to slather their bodies in baby oil and spend the entire day baking in the sun. Dermatologists have since let us know that such sun worshipping will only put us on the path to premature aging -- and skin cancer.

Dermatologist Norman Levine, MD, author of Skin Healthy: Everyone's Guide to Great Skin, says, "If there's one thing that someone can do to avoid severe injury to the skin, it's avoid the sun. The sun," he says, "has effects on the cells that renew the skin. And when those cells are injured irreparably, you get skin aging and become more prone to skin cancer."

You can tell right away when someone's been spending a lot of time in the sun, Jennifer Stein, MD, PhD, assistant professor of dermatology at NYU Langone Medical Center, says. "Their skin looks very wrinkly and is covered in lots of brown spots. That's from years and years of sun damage."

2. Skimp on Sunscreen

Your sunscreen probably isn't shielding you from sun damage because most of us don't apply the recommended shot-glass-sized amount (1 ounce) of SPF 30 or higher sunscreen. That's the minimum experts say you need to protect yourself.

"Most people under-apply by one-fourth. Whatever you're putting on is probably too little. So at least double it," Jeffrey Dover, MD, FRCPC, associate clinical professor of dermatology at Yale University School of Medicine, says. Many people also don't apply sunscreen every two hours as dermatologists recommend.

If you’re going to be outside, always wear protective clothing and a wide-brimmed hat, seek the shade, wear sunscreen, and reapply at least every 2 hours, more if swimming or sweating.

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