Look — we all have bad habits. But this is the year to get on top of those that keep you from looking your best.
Sleeping in your makeup
Sure, you're twice as tired as you were when you'd pass out on your bed as a teenager after a marathon phone call to the BFF, but that's still no excuse for going to sleep without removing your makeup. Aside from blocking pores and leaving your skin open to irritation, this is a quick route to prematurely aging your skin as you let a day's worth of grime, sweat and pollution act as your night-time skin care regimen rather than a well-formulated retinol or peptide cream. If the bathroom sink seems too far away, stash some gentle makeup removing wipes by the bed, sleeping beauty.
Going out without sunscreen... on your hands
With the plethora of creams, lotions, foundations and powders that offer sun protection, keeping your face protected from the sun has gotten much easier than it used to be. In fact, it's practically become a non-negotiable to have a day cream without sun protection in the shops these days. But whether your sun protection motivation is for health or for cosmetic reasons, it's easily to overlook your hands during your beauty regimen — and they're one of the first places to show signs of aging.
Unfortunately, many hand creams come without any UV blockers — and as a result, the already thin skin on hands is on a fast-track to sun damage, age spots, wrinkles and collagen degradation. Find a new favourite cream that comes with an SPF, or layer it over a sun cream for the body.
Playing it safe
You don't have to shave your head or get a "sexy mutha" tattoo across your chest, but if you can't remember the last time you tried a new makeup look or did something different with your hair, it's time to shake things up a bit. Sure, the ladies behind the cosmetics counters are there to sell products, but they're also a great source of knowledge when it comes to new trends, colours and makeup techniques.
Throw caution to the wind and let them have at it for 15 minutes the next time you're out and about. You might just come away with some new ideas or inspiration. And you don't have to do a major overhaul of your cosmetics, either — a bold new lipstick (or a nude one, if you favour brights already) and a new eye shadow to complement it can be enough.
Festering makeup brushes
Speaking of makeup, when was the last time you gave your working tools a wipe? Makeup brushes are an easy access area for bacteria and dirt to build up inside their bristles, which you then sweep across your clean face. Cut to rashes, irritation and scouring the cupboard for an anti-acne medication you definitely don't need. Makeup artists clean their brushes after every use — but you don't need to be quite that diligent. Once a week, use a brush cleaner or a mild shampoo to remove makeup and product build up — you'll be amazed how much one little brush can hold onto. Once you've delivered your tools from grime to shine, lay them flat to dry on a towel. (Standing them upright in a cup will cause the water to drip down inside the handle, shortening brush life.) Regular cleaning helps brushes last longer — good quality ones can net you 5 years of use.
Playing roulette with your skin care products
It's hard to stay faithful with so many pretty products on the shelves beckoning you to try them — but if you want to see results, you'll have to pledge monogamy... for a little while, at least. Skin operates on a 28-day renewal cycle (which slows down after 40, leaving skin less vibrant and appearing dull or patchy). When you're starting a new skin care regimen, depending on what stage of the cycle your skin is in, you should give it a minimum of 8 weeks before expecting to see results. For more intense treatments (like brightening products or retinoid-based creams), skin may take 6 months to show major signs of improvement.