You know this already, but chances are you're not doing it—you need to take your make-up off every night (even if it's 3 a.m., and even if your pores are basically 90% non-existent anyway). Not only does leaving your foundation and concealer on overnight clog pores and trap oils, conveniently forgetting to cleanse means all of the environmental damage from the day stays stuck on your face, too. If you are removing your make-up and still finding spots, you should note that it's not just cleansing that counts, it's cleansing properly—which brings us to…
2. Using face wipes
Convenient, sure. Cheap, absolutely. Pretty darn bad for your skin? Unfortunately, also a yes. Face wipes are great for a quick make-up change like removing eyeliner in a hurry or topping up for a night out, but they don't remove all of the daily dirt thoroughly, and are often full of chemicals that can dry your skin out and actually make it worse. Your nighttime cleanse needs to be more thorough—preferably a double cleanse with oil and foaming cleansers—and if you have no other option but to use a wipe? At the very least, rinse your face afterwards to get rid of as much residue as possible.
3. Not washing your pillows
Clean bedding isn't just a Sunday night luxury, it's essential for keeping your skin clear and healthy. Even if you do wash your face before hitting the sack, it still produces oil and dirt throughout the night, and your pillows can pick up clogging properties from the environment, too. Choose pillowcases made from natural fibers and change them at least once a week, avoiding fabric softeners when you wash (as these can irritate skin too). If your breakouts are particularly bad, you may want to step it up to every two to three days.
4. Not drinking enough water
Cast your mind back over your last ten beverages. If at least 70% of them weren't water (or something equally hydrating like herbal tea), you need to rethink your drinking habits. Fizzy drinks can wreak havoc with your complexion, particularly if you're drinking the full-fat, refined sugar-loaded version, and alcohol can be just as bad. However, it's not so much what you are consuming, it's H2O you'll substituting them for that counts. Healthy skin needs hydrating, so give yours the best chance at glowiness you can.
5. Eating too much dairy
At the other end of the spectrum, Cosmopolitan UK Beauty Editor Cassie Powney found that adding a morning latte to her daily diet caused her to go from her usual glowy, healthy skin to breakouts across her cheeks. After seeking the help of a dermatologist, she found that dairy is a common trigger for those with problem skin, and that cutting down can help to clear your complexion quickly and efficiently. It's not the cause of everyone's breakouts, but if you haven't yet found the root of your skin issues, it can't hurt to try.
6. Not cleaning your make up brushes
Every time you apply your make up, your brushes collect oil, dirt, and dead skin from your face, which stays there until you wash them—which, if you're as lazy as us, can be anywhere from a couple of weeks to, uhm… well, we wouldn't like to say. It's recommended that you wash your brushes every 1-2 weeks minimum, and spray them with daily brush cleaner to keep them sanitized in between deep cleans too.
7. Leaning back when washing your hair
Let's be real: breakouts don't always happen on your face. Spots on your back or shoulders can be notoriously stubborn, but one of the lesser-known causes is the river of shampoo and conditioner residue that builds up every time you wash your hair. To give that sensitive skin a much-needed breather, wash your hair with your mane tipped forward—if it's hair product-clogged pores to blame, you should notice the area getting much less congested in a couple of weeks.
8. Squeezing spots that are already there
We know, we know, you'd have to have the willpower of a saint not to, but you know what squeezing spots generally leads to? You've guessed it: more spots. Picking at existing blemishes can lead to infection, leave you with scars, and spread the bacteria that caused the original breakout further across the skin, increasing your likelihood of developing more pimples. Instead, try using a product with salicyclic acid or benzoyl peroxide to tackle spots before they get to the surface—it'll speed up the eruption and healing process and mean you're less tempted to pop.
9. Touching your face
Every time you rest your hand on your chin, play with your hair, cover your mouth to yawn or talk to someone on the phone (which, incidentally, is probably one of the dirtiest things you own), you're transporting bacteria, bugs, and sweat to everywhere else you touch afterwards—and that's not all. You're also transferring germs from everything you touched before that moment (money, your work keyboard, the toilet door handle…) back up to your face simultaneously—eek!
Keep your hands clean with soap or sanitizer for when you inevitably do have to go there, but otherwise, make a conscious effort to avoid touching your face unless you absolutely have to. It sounds simple, but it can make a big difference to the condition of your skin.
This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.co.uk. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.