Did your parents ever check to make sure you washed behind your ears? No wonder we've become a little obsessed with cleanliness, and that obsession may be harming our skin. Among the countless cleansers on the market are some products that are very harsh on your skin. Soaps, after all, work by stripping the body of oil and dirt, and some of the stronger ones leave your skin dry and itchy in the process. Add harsh astringents and alchohol-based cleansers into the mix, and you have a recipe for skin care disaster. In fact, too much cleaning action may cause something of a rebound effect, causing your skin to ramp up production of oils to combat dryness. Dermatologists recommend gentle, fragrance free cleansers instead, some of which don't contain soap at all.
Harsh cleansers are only part of the problem, however. When winter rolls around, few things can be as tempting as a hot bath or shower to fight off the cold. But hot water and dry winter air are a bad combination for your skin -- both dehydrate it and cause your skin to itch. Experts recommend taking short, lukewarm showers (not baths) and then patting yourself dry afterward. Of course, having clean skin is only part of good skin care. Avoiding the next mistake on our list is another big piece of the equation.