Derms Say You’re Probably Skipping This Critical Step in Your Skin-Care Routine, and It Is *Gross*

Photo: Getty Images/Westend61
I always joke that the only thing I've ever been more dedicated to than my skin-care routine was studying for my SATs. I've got dozens of products in my bathroom, and slather at least 10 of them on my face during the course of a given day. I'm the girl who gets on an airplane armed with enough sheet masks, facial mists, and moisturizers to ensure everyone onboard could walk off hydrated and glowing, and who legitimately brags about the fact that I have fallen asleep exactly once in the last five years with my makeup on (...and that was only after a very, very rowdy holiday party). But last night, I realized that there was one crucial step missing from my meticulous regimen: washing my hands.

When I went to slather on my Drunk Elephant Cleansing Balm ($34) in order to melt off my makeup from the day, I looked down at the glorious product in my palms and realized, holy shit, my hands are filthy. I backtracked in my brain from the taxi I'd taken home to the movie theater I'd been to, and could not remember the last time they'd had a solid soap and water treatment... and all I could think about was the alarming statistic that our phone screens (which, according to my iPhone app, I spend 7+ hours a day touching) are dirtier than toilet seats. Um, gross. I mean, all it takes is one look at my computer keyboard to know that my hands are straight-up covered in grime on the reg, despite the fact that—yes—I wash my hands plenty of times throughout the day. And in that moment, I had the horrifying realization that all of that nastiness is going straight onto my skin... which can apparently have some highly unappealing consequences.

"Bacteria is all over our hands," confirms Virginia-based dermatologist Dr. Lily Talakoub. "From our doorknobs to desks, keyboards, shopping carts—it's everywhere. Your face is a warm home for bacteria, so wash your hands before washing your face to prevent any transfer of bacteria, which can cause acne and skin infections." After dealing with a nasty skin infection of my own earlier this year, I can't believe I hadn't processed any of this sooner.

If reading this and thinking, "Well, cleanser is technically soap, so rubbing that in my hands should do the trick," Dr. Talakoub wants you to know that that's not the case, because that's just taking the bacteria from your hands and onto your face. So before you lather up to wash the gunk off of your skin, be sure to lather up and do it on your hands first... because, ya know, toilet seats.

Once you're committed to your hand washing routine, here are our favorite under $10 hand creams to keep them hydrated. Plus, the drugstore moisturizer I truly cannot get enough of RN. 

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