This Is How You’re Damaging Your Skin Daily Without Realizing It— and It Has Nothing to Do with Sunscreen

Updated: May 06, 2021

Even if you think you're taking great care of your skin, if you're making this common mistake, you're not.

skinLucky Business/shutterstockWe know that a careful cleansing and moisturizing routine helps us maintain healthy facial skin. But have you ever thought about how you care for the rest of your body?

A recent Dove survey has revealed that experts have some serious concerns about how women treat their skin. Seventy eight percent of dermatologists believe that women focus on facial skin care, often forgetting about the rest of their body, or even damaging their skin barrier unwittingly.

“The skin barrier keeps skin irritants out and keeps nutrients and hydration in,” explains Mona Gohara, MD, board certified dermatologist.

The Importance of the Skin Barrier

Imagine your skin as a brick wall. The “bricks” are formed from the old, dead skin cells, with the “mortar” consisting of fatty lipids that give the skin its suppleness and softness. These lipids have three main functions: to retain water to keep the skin hydrated, to prevent the moisturizing elements from leaching out, and to protect against dirt and allergens which could irritate the skin.

“If the barrier is compromised in any way, the skin can be inflamed, irritated, dry, dull, and dehydrated,” says Dr. Gohara. “When the barrier is compromised, irritants sneak in to cause irritation. Water can evaporate out to cause dryness. But an intact barrier equals healthy, radiant, glowing skin.”

As we get older, the skin barrier changes, which is why women over 40 are more prone to dry skin. (Check out how to keep your skin in tip-top condition as you age.)

How the Skin Barrier Gets Damaged

“Harsh surfactants in soaps, over-scrubbing, hot water, wool sweaters, wind, and harsh laundry soaps, can all cause the skin barrier to wear down,” she says.

But soap is often the top culprit. Chemicals (e.g. sodium lauryl sulfate), are often added to soaps to help them foam better, but they can cause skin problems.

“Dove research found three in four dermatologists say that women often damage their skin in the shower, thinking they are caring for it!” continues Dr. Gohara. Women don’t realize that some soaps can do more harm than good.

Of course, using natural skin care methods and following a good whole-body skincare regime are good ways to maintain a healthy skin.

But Dr. Gohara also offers her own tips for keeping skin in good condition, “Use gentle cleansers, such as the Dove Deep Moisture Body Wash, which nourishes the skin as it cleanses with the gentlest of cleansers and is also sulfate-free (a common irritant),” she says. “Take warm showers, do not over-scrub, wear cotton clothes, humidify your air, and cover up your face when outside in the cold.” Next, find out all the ways you’re probably showering wrong.