We'd love to think that we know everything, but time and time again, we're proven wrong. As it turns out, we've been working out wrong, we're complimenting people incorrectly, and we should really know our blood type.
Even so, we're always ready to learn something new. We reached out to a few experts to learn about some other things that the typical person does incorrectly, despite their best efforts. The results were fairly surprising.
For instance, you might not know that you're doing something wrong when you're...
1. Taking a Shower
There's nothing better than enjoying a long, hot shower, right? In the middle of the winter, a hot shower can mean the difference between a bad morning and a semi-tolerable one. There's just one problem.
"Taking showers that are too hot as hot water opens the pores, which promotes water loss and also washes away skin’s protective emollient oils, further compounding water loss," says New York dermatologist Neal Schultz, MD. Schulz is the host of DermTV.com and creator of BeautyRx by Dr. Schultz. "Together this causes dry and itchy skin,” he tells FashionBeans. “Take warm showers instead."
Keep your showers relatively short so that your skin doesn't dry out.
Additionally, you might not want to spend too much time standing around in the shower. We know, we know; we hate to be the bearer of bad news.
"Showering and being in the water dries out your skin," says Alan J. Parks, MD, a board-certified dermatologist. "It's okay [to] shower every day but you should keep your showers relatively short—as short as possible—so that your skin doesn't dry out."
"Additionally," Parks says, "many soaps will strip your skin of natural oils and cause your skin to dry out. Make sure you're using more gentle cleansers rather than harsh soaps, and make sure that you completely rinse the soap off your body when you're done washing."
One potential solution: the eco-friendly Navy shower. Designed to conserve water, this showering method involves getting wet, turning off the water, soaping up, then turning the water back on to rinse off. Sure, it's not nearly as fun as a typical shower, but it's better for your skin—and the environment.
2. Playing Monopoly
Here's the thing about Monopoly: It's a terrible game.
That's not our opinion, it's a fact; the game was originally created to show kids the futility of capitalistic systems.
Elizabeth Magie created an early version of Monopoly called The Landlord's Game in 1903—three decades before the Parker Brothers produced their version. She offered two sets of rules: one that rewarded all players for generating wealth together, and an anti-monopolist ruleset that was intentionally dull for everyone but the game's inevitable winner.
Oddly enough, the second version was the one that caught on, and many of Magie's rules made it to the world-famous board game.
Imgur user elpher created a stunning tutorial explaining how to win at Monopoly, but we'll warn you, it's best used if you really dislike the other people in the game. Your goal, basically, is to immediately establish a monopoly, cause a housing shortage (by getting four houses on every property and never building hotels), and hold all of the other players to the exact rules of the game.
That means forcing unclaimed properties to go to a bank auction, compelling other players to give up properties in lieu of rent, and generally being a terrible person until everyone else quits in frustration.
The approach is best summed up by elpher’s final tip: "Go buy a better board game."
You can check out the full tutorial here.
3. Charging Your Phone
We’ve all read the various ways we’re killing our phones with our chargers. You’ll be happy to learn most of them aren’t too serious. Ideally, you should charge lithium-ion batteries whenever you can, but you shouldn't worry about leaving them plugged in for long periods of time. Don't worry about unplugging your phone as soon as it reaches 100 percent, either; at that point, it switches to a "trickle" charge, which prevents the battery from overheating.
However, there’s one thing you certainly should do differently and that’s removing your phone's case while it's charging.
"During charging, phones tend to heat up, and cases can trap this heat," says Tonia Baldwin of mobile phone retailer A1 Connect. "This, in turn, can lead to overheating of the handset, putting stress on the battery and other internal components."
That doesn't mean that your phone turns into an explosive device—well, provided that it's properly designed. (We’re looking at you, Samsung.) Most phones have components that prevent the heat from exceeding certain thresholds. Even so, you might be accidentally damaging your battery by leaving your phone in its case while it charges.
Oh, and never used a frayed charging cord, even if you're sure that the cable still works.
"If you can see past the rubber outer cover, it’s time to throw the cord away," says Colleen Murphy of Staymobile, a phone repair service. "Once the inner layers are exposed, you become much more likely to experience short circuits.”
4. Trimming Your Fingernails
You might have noticed that your nail clippers have a subtle curve, as if they're designed for single-snip action. That may have been the intent, but it actually takes three or four clips across the length of the average fingernail to tidy up those hands, reports GQ.
Whatever you do, don't just cram your nail into the clipper head on and start snipping.
"A common mistake men and women make when trimming their own nails is the angle at which they approach it," celebrity manicurist Deborah Lippmann told the men's magazine. "Clipping straight-on can bend and ultimately damage the nail."
Don't go too short, either. According to Esquire, you want a little bit of fresh white growth at the ends of your nails. If you try to trim your nails down to the quick, you open your fingertips up to the risk of infection, a horrible prospect.
Also, notice how men's magazines have the market cornered on nail-care tips? That's unexpected.
5. Holding the Steering Wheel
When you first learned to drive, you probably learned the "10 and 2" rule: Your hands should stay at 2:00 and 10:00 on the steering wheel; this is meant to give you optimum control over your vehicle if you need to suddenly avoid an obstacle.
That is, apparently, completely wrong. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration now recommends positioning of 9 and 3, which should help to keep the driver's hands out of the way of the airbags in the event of an accident.
Other organizations have slightly different recommendations, but they're all fairly similar. The State of Connecticut, for instance, recommends that "both hands should be placed on opposite sides of the steering wheel," which should allow drivers to comfortably make turns at high speeds.
Still, the 10 and 2 position is widely seen as dangerous.
"When your airbag is triggered, super-hot nitrogen gas fills the bag, forcing open the plastic cover on your steering wheel," wrote Matt Collister of insurance provider Progressive on the company's blog.
"The bag then expands toward you at 150-250 mph. The higher your hands are on the wheel, the more likely they are to be over that plastic cover—and the more likely they are to be injured when it blows open," according to Collister.
That might sound slightly dramatic, but the takeaway is clear: Keep those hands a bit lower. Otherwise, you could be taking an unnecessary risk—without benefiting from any added additional maneuverability.
6. Scrambling Eggs for Breakfast
What's so tough about scrambling eggs? You crack a few into a hot, oily pan, whisk, and it's time for breakfast, right? Not so fast, say the experts at Bon Appetit magazine.
Like, literally, not so fast.
The magazine's digital food editor, Dawn Perry, told her reporter that "A good scramble takes a minute!"
That's because you want to scramble your eggs over medium-low heat. That quick sizzle will just dry out your eggs. The trick is to whisk the eggs together in a separate bowl, drop a dollop of butter into a nonstick pan, and cook those eggs over medium-low heat while stirring them until they begin to solidify. Oh, and take them off the burner just before they start to look done. They'll continue to cook until they cool down a bit.
7. Using Cotton Swabs in Your Ears
What could be simpler than using cotton swabs to clear out your ears?
Well, it's on this list, so you probably know what's coming: Cotton swabs can damage your hearing. In fact, there's really no reason to be cleaning out earwax from your inner ears in the first place.
"Number one, you would like to have some wax in your ears," otologist/neurotologist Jennifer Smullen Tirino, MD, told Boston’s NPR station, WBUR. "The ear canal makes wax for a purpose. The wax in your ear waterproofs the ear canal and keeps water from going in and getting stuck, sort of like wax on your car. If you clean your ear with a Q-tip, that strips the wax and lets the water stay in."
While we might want our ears to appear absolutely clean, that's not necessarily a good idea from a biological perspective. That's not the only issue, by the way.
Pushing the earwax in can cause impaction, potentially perforating the eardrum. The best approach is to simply use cotton swabs to clean around the outside of the ear; otolaryngologists often say that you shouldn't put anything into your ear that's smaller than your elbow.
8. Sitting at Your Computer
The problem here isn't what you're doing; it's that you're not doing much of anything else.
You're a disaster waiting to happen.
Even if you exercise after you get home, you're probably not completely reversing the effects of a day spent in a chair. If you don't exercise, you might be heading for a catastrophic injury.
"You work with poor posture, then the average American watches six hours of TV with poor posture; you're a disaster waiting to happen," Scott Bautch, chiropractor and president of the American Chiropractic Association’s Council on Occupational Health, told FashionBeans. "If I do that, eventually I'm going to do something I do every day, and a catastrophe will happen because of the sedentary activities that take place every day."
The good news is that, regardless of your lifestyle, you can safely begin exercising: A 2014 study showed that sedentary adults weren't any more likely to incur injuries than non-sedentary adults when starting a 12-month workout plan. Still, Bautch says that minor changes will allow for more permanent results.
Bautch recommends incorporating 35 micromotion periods per day. By spending five seconds walking and stretching several times per hour, you can reverse many of the negative effects of a sedentary lifestyle. He believes that by incorporating other "microhabits," people can avoid serious health conditions, and as he told us, most lifestyle changes occur gradually.
"The average person eats 118 extra calories on a weekend," he notes. "Well, 118 extra calories two days, four times per month, we gain a pound. Over 20 years, you know, we gain 50 or 60 or 70 pounds … But if I stay close to my BMI, if I add 30 minutes of movement, I decrease my healthcare costs by well over 30 percent. It's just little, tiny things that make the big differences that accumulate."