Today, we know more about health and our bodies than we ever have. Ironically, though, we also struggle to stay healthy more than ever before.
From misleading advertising to popular myths, we’re all surrounded by ‘miraculous’ products and treatments that actually do more harm than good. In fact, many of us have even adopted certain hygiene habits that increase our risk of infections and long-term diseases!
For example, did you know that bubble baths can irritate your skin severely?
Or that cotton swabs can cause punctured eardrums?
It’s time to let experts teach us how to stay safe by ditching 10 bad hygiene habits we consider healthy. Ready? Let’s have a look!
Using cotton swabs
If you were to ask 100 Americans how they feel about cotton swabs, most of them would probably tell you they’re a must-have in every home.
However, specialists don’t think the same way.
In fact, as Brande Plotnick, MS, MBA, says, ear canals don’t need any special tools to be cleaned. Whenever you take a shower, the water entering the ear canal can wash away the extra wax that has accumulated. Additionally, you can also wipe your ears with a towel.
Cotton swabs can penetrate the ear canal more than necessary. Not only do they take away protective wax that can keep your internal ear safe, but they can even lead to punctured eardrums and ear infections over time.
What’s better than ending the day surrounded by scented bubbles and hot water?
Well, it could be many things since these relaxing sessions aren’t exactly healthy, especially for the ladies!
According to Jen Gunter, MD, many bubble-making products can contain fragrances and detergents that easily irritate sensitive skin. Furthermore, some substances found in those pretty bubbles can destroy the pH balance of your reproductive organs, possibly leading to yeast infections.
However, this doesn’t mean you should give up on spoiling yourself! You can replace those bubbles with a nice glass of wine to double the pleasure.
Okay, I’ll admit that air dryers are probably saving a lot of trees since they’re an efficient paper towel replacement. However, they definitely lack the efficiency of a classic towel in terms of hygiene.
Unless you’re washing your hands thoroughly to make sure you’ve eliminated all the harmful substances, some bacteria can still remain on your hands—even when you air-dry them.
What’s worse, electric air dryers can actually help bacteria and viruses travel by air to the rest of the room (which might also help spread fecal bacteria).
Washing your hair daily
The first (and most important) step in maintaining good personal hygiene is to wash all body parts correctly. But does that really mean we must wash every body part twice a day?
In fact, our locks are better off without shampoo and conditioner, at least for a couple of days. Why?
Well, your hair naturally produces a special type of oil that protects the scalp and the hair strands. Every time you wash your hair, all those oils disappear, leaving your locks exposed. Washing your hair daily can lead to a dry scalp and broken hair ends, even if you’re also using other hair care products afterwards!
Note that even washing your hair daily shouldn’t lead to excessive hair loss. If you’re dealing with this problem right now, here is a shampoo that might help you.
Brushing your teeth after eating
Many advertisers in the oral hygiene industry are promoting the idea that we should brush our teeth after each meal.
According to the Mayo Clinic, though, we should wait at least 30 minutes after each meal to clean our teeth. Why?
Because many of the foods we eat temporarily weaken the tooth enamel, if you brush your teeth right after eating those foods, you actually increase the likelihood of damaging your enamel. The foods that have the highest impact are the citrus ones.
However, if you wait for 30 minutes or more post-meal, your saliva will naturally eliminate the food acid in your mouth and the tooth enamel will return to its natural, strong texture.
For the past few years, scrubs have taken over the beauty industry – and for good reason. Numerous studies have already proven that exfoliating regularly can clean your skin pores much better than simply using water and soap.
As with many other things in life, though, excessive exfoliation can do more harm than good.
Experts from the Dermatology Alliance point out that our skin is naturally covered by a protective layer of oils; these natural oils act as a barrier against harmful bacteria, viruses, and dirt found in the surrounding environment.
Now, every time you exfoliate your skin, you’re not just eliminating dirt but also those much-needed protective oils. Excessive exfoliation will make your skin glands produce more and more oils as it tries to keep your pores safe and healthy; The result? A skin that’s either too dry or too oily, and a concerning imbalance in your pH.
Although this practice may sound silly to many people, it’s actually far more common than you think.
There are many products apparently designed to help your intimate areas smell insanely good; however, any kind of perfume (especially those containing alcohol as well) can cause some serious damage to your sensitive skin.
Some people think they can avoid side effects by spraying perfume on their underwear instead of applying it directly to their skin. If you’re one of them, just stop, because this practice is equally dangerous.
Specialists recommend that any product you’re using on your intimate area be perfume-free and contain verified ingredients. This simple practice can keep you safe from yeast infections, irritations, and other unpleasant health consequences.
The practice of douching is surprisingly popular considering how many experts insist on its inefficiency. Although you may feel like douching cleans those body areas better than you ever could, the long-term results can be devastating.
According to Wendie A. Howland, principal of Howland Health Consulting, douching can seriously alter the pH of your skin. While it washes away that nasty bacteria, it also eliminates the good bacteria that keeps your skin healthy, thus increasing your risk of infections.
Furthermore, a study published by Environmental Health showed that products designed for douching can alter hormone production. Over time, this imbalance might increase your risk of reproductive problems and chronic disease.
Much like exfoliation, moisturizing has increased in popularity in recent years. After all, who doesn’t like to have smooth skin that smells incredible?
Unfortunately, moisturizing too often comes at a cost.
Garnier skin health experts revealed that applying moisturizer excessively every day (especially in the evening hours) can decrease your skin’s production of emollient (your natural moisturizer). In other words, the more moisturizer you apply, the more you teach your skin to produce less of its own.
Over time, your skin will become drier and drier, and you’ll enter a vicious cycle in which you keep moisturizing with no results.
The solution? Just apply very thin layers of moisturizer according to your dermatologist’s indications.
Showering for too long
At least one shower a day can keep the doctor away, and that’s a fact. However, if you’re spending hours depicting the meaning of life during a hot shower, your skin might not be happy!
According to Alan J. Parks, MD, founder of DermWarehouse, the hot water coming into direct contact with your skin at high pressure can eliminate protective oils from your skin. Sure, you can moisturize afterwards to avoid dry skin, but we already know what happens when you do that too often, right?
The simplest solution is to keep your hot showers as short as possible and perhaps make that water warm instead of hot. In fact, you can even grow to love cold showers if you know how to do them properly!
Maintaining good personal hygiene is the first step towards health and beauty. From the products you use on your skin to other treatments and habits, every detail can make a difference.
But how can you know which products and hygiene habits are truly beneficial with so many options on the market?
Here at Wellness Captain, we believe that science and experts hold the answer. That’s why one of our main goals is to provide only expert-verified information and tips based on studies so you can make the best decisions for you and your loved ones.
You should also check out: 10 Unexpected Times You Should NOT Use Hand Sanitizer