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Why You Shouldn't Touch Your Face (Hint: It's Not Just About the Coronavirus)

Woman looking sideways not touching her face

Are you sick of hearing about COVID-19? So am I. That’s not to say that I take it lightly, because I don’t, but all my social media is full of the same message over and over: wash your hands, limit public exposure, and stop touching your face.

As important as it is to take those preventative measures during a pandemic like this, here’s a truth bomb for you: touching your face is bad all the time. Not only are there always viruses and bacteria floating around looking for a way to make you sick, but touching your face is also a major hazard for your skin.

In fact, there are several reasons it can be a problem for that beautiful skin you’ve worked so hard to maintain.

Getting Debris on Your Skin

No offense, but this is true for literally everyone: your hands are gross. Unless you’re walking around with latex gloves every day, your hands touch countless surfaces each day and all those surfaces have been touched by who-knows-what before you.

In fact, tests of common public surfaces like public transportation and handrails for stairs and escalators show fecal particles, respiratory fluids, and other human secretions. Holy nasty.

All of that and more can get onto your skin when you touch your face. This debris can clog your pores and lead to acne that’s difficult to eliminate, even if you aren’t prone to acne.

Pimples aren’t the only worry, though. Any of the particles, chemicals, or bacteria on your hands can irritate your facial skin, making it red, puffy, and uncomfortable.

Worse yet, you could even get a serious skin infection. The bacteria from your hands can get into cuts on your face, even tiny ones that you may not know about.

Sure, a great facial cleanser can help with these risks, but only to a limited extent. After all, the ick on your face can do a lot of damage between when it gets onto your skin and when you wash your face sixteen hours later.

Disturbing the Delicate Ecosystem

A common defense to the issue of getting germs on your face is, “But I just washed my hands, they’re clean!” Sorry to break it to you, but that still won’t cut it.

Aside from the fact that most of us don’t wash our hands enough to fully clean them (it’s okay, I’m guilty of that too), even pristine hands can mess up your facial skin.

Your skin is very different in various parts of your body, with pores and glands secreting the specific materials your skin needs in that exact area. It’s critical to let your skin work that magic on its own.

For example, your hands could be wiping away the natural facial oil called sebum that protects your skin’s barrier. The skin of your hands often contains more sweat than your facial skin too. When you touch your face, you’re disturbing the balance between sweat, sebum, and other essentials.

The result could be clogged pores, dry skin, irritation, you name it.

Giving Gravity a Helping Hand

If you aren’t aware of how the skin aging process works, here’s your crash course. As you get older and have fewer skin-firming proteins in your skin, your skin is less able to withstand gravity. This is when sagging starts to happen.

When you pull and rub at your skin, you add fuel to that fire. You’re breaking those firming protein fibers and making your skin more susceptible to early aging. The problem is even worse if you’re pulling down on your skin, adding to the force that gravity already has.

The effects of this mistake aren’t as immediate as the effects of debris and bacteria on your face. It’s more of a cumulative problem that adds up over time. Still, you don’t want to give aging any more speed than it already has, so now is the time to break your face-touching habit.

Throwing Your Skin Care Products in the Trash

Anyone who wants their skin to look its best knows the power that a great lineup of skin care products can have. You’ve probably also seen the difference between high-quality, science-based products and drug store cheapies.

If you touch your face, though, you’re taking money out of your own pocket.

From sunscreens to night creams, all your skin care products take time to sink into your skin and work their magic. When you touch your face, some amount of that product is coming off your face and onto your hands, so you aren’t getting as much benefit as you could if you left your face alone.

Obviously, this is most important in the first half-hour or so after you apply those products. If you get into the habit of avoiding touching your face, though, you’re less likely to accidentally touch your face within that critical timeframe.

Protect Your Face: Give It Space

If you’re like most of us, keeping your hands away from your face is on your mind because of the COVID-19 outbreak. When the outbreak ends, though, don’t walk around rubbing your face like you’re giving it a massage.

Take this opportunity to break that face-touching habit once and for all. You’ll thank yourself later when your skin is clearer, calmer, and younger. Stay safe out there, folks!