In the world of skincare, people want quick, immediate fixes – this is why you see a new kind of makeup-removing wipe or “get rid of your acne” cleanser every single day.
The marketing industry does this for a reason. We believe that the product will do what it says it will do, at face value (imagine that!)
The problem is, these immediate fixes are not sustainable, and marketing is often just that…marketing. All they will do for you is exacerbate the problems at hand and put your skin on a carousel of reactions.
So without further ado, let’s discuss some of the most common skincare mistakes!
Mistake #1. Not washing your face at night
Let’s take a moment of silence to think about all the dirt, grime, and pollution that accumulates on your face during the day (not to mention that layer of makeup!) If you want a quick way to break out, this is it.
Your skin sheds and regenerates at night – it is actually the most active while you are sleeping. But it’s not just about cleansing at night.
Your morning routine is crucial, as it will remove dead skin cells, rebalance your epidermis, and prep your skin for the day ahead.
A note on cleansing: Although some might think their skin is clean in the morning, cleansing is the most important step of your routine.
Evaluate what your skin needs—i.e. if you are dry, dehydrated or feeling like your skin is tight, choose an oil cleanser. If you feel oily, reach for a clay or non-foaming gel based cleanser. Picking a cleanser is often like choosing out your outfit for the day.
Remember that double cleansing is not part of your morning routine. And to reiterate… wipes are not cleansers. Put them away, save them for planes, super late nights, or when you’re out of toilet paper.
Mistake #2. Using scrubs
You. do. not. need. an. apricot. scrub. Seeds, kernels, plastic beads, whatever they may be, will obliterate your skin. Harsher is not better. They will not “shrink your pores” or make your skin brighter without causing irritation. Unfortunately, that is impossible.
They are actually capable of producing acne, because of how much they dry and damage your skin.
Think broken capillaries. Do you hate your skin? For healthy exfoliation that your skin craves, acids are your best friend. Yes, acids – glycolic, lactic, salicylic, malic, etc.
A note on acids/exfoliating toners: Acids reset your skin’s natural pH after cleansing. And they help everything. While Alpha-Hydroxy-Acids (AHA’s, glycolic, lactic) increase your sun sensitivity and are better left for nighttime, it is still important to tone and exfoliate in the morning to help release dead skin cells.
This resets your skin’s pH after cleansing and can be targeted to a certain skin concern (breakouts, dehydration, etc.)
Exfoliation makes your skin come alive—it is what makes you glow. Exfoliating powders or a toner without alcohol are good options for this step. Note: certain acids, such as salicylic, do not increase sun sensitivity, but will also help keep your pores clean.
They are known as Beta-Hydroxy- Acids (BHA’s) and are a safe option for morning use.
Mistake #3. Buying too much alcohol
That is, buying skincare products containing an exorbitant amount of alcohol. You know those acne pads you see at drug stores? They are all filled with alcohol. You feel dry almost immediately afterwards, and your skin begins a downward spiral of producing more oil as it tries to repair itself.
Would you put nail polish remover on your face? (Please say no!) Although the list is extensive, the products most commonly seen with unnecessary alcohol are toners.
SD alcohol 40 (denatured alcohol) will strip your skin, like sulfates, leading to dryness and dismantling a healthy, balanced epidermis.
And if you’ve already committed this sin and need to rehydrate, look for products containing hyaluronic acid, aloe vera, glycerin, or rose water.
A note on alcohols in skincare – there is a difference between fatty alcohols, which are stabilizing ingredients in products, and the SD (denatured) alcohol mentioned above.
Butylene glycol, a frequently seen ingredient in nearly every skincare product, is actually a small organic alcohol. So don’t freak out – not every alcohol is bad; just watch the top of your ingredients list.
And an additional note on perfume in skincare: Similar to alcohol, perfumes (fragrance, parfum) are huge irritants for most skins. Oftentimes when synthetic fragrances are added to a product, they are not needed for the product’s efficacy in the first place.
If you see “parfum” at the top of an ingredient list, walk the other direction. They can easily cause your skin to be frustrated, especially if you have sensitive or acneic skin.
Mistake #4. Using foaming cleansers
99 percent of foaming cleansers contain sulfates (also known as SLS, or detergent), which will result in your skin feeling like a dried up prune. Most people are already dehydrated to some extent, so stripping your face of all moisture is not the way to go.
The only “safe” foaming cleansers are ones sans-detergent that foam due to the mechanism of the pump. However, some people can’t handle foaming cleansers regardless of the ingredient list.
A note on sulfates – sulfates are horrible and I avoid them in skincare products, body products, and hair products. The most commonly seen are sodium laureth sulfate or sodium lauryl sulfate.
These are some of the most sensitizing ingredients you can put on your skin, simply because they are detergents, to be saved for dish soap and the washing machine.
Think bubbles. Sulfates are what make cleansers foam, leading to dry, tight skin. Dry, tight skin is not equivalent to clean skin. Why? Our skins rest at a balanced pH (close to a neutral 7), which ranges on a logarithmic scale from 1 (very acidic) to 14 (very basic).
When washing your skin with soap (very basic), your skin’s natural pH becomes altered. A more basic epidermis will not only allow more bacteria to be produced but also produce more oil.
Your skin wants to be in balance, thus, if it is lacking its natural oils, it will produce more.
Unfortunately, sulfates are commonly found in many acne cleansers, which only exacerbate the issue at hand. Never, ever, fight acne or oil with foam or scrubs. This is damaging skin that is already in a sensitive state.
Like mentioned above, your skin will produce excess oil in attempt to rebalance itself, continuing the cyclic pattern of breakouts.
The only thing sulfates promise is a damaged epidermis and an unbalanced acid mantle. (Note: there are very few cleansers that foam without sulfates, due to the pump mechanism on the bottle. This is rare, but a few do exist).
Mistake #5. Being terrified of oil
Oil is good for all skin types! Including oily! I know, this idea is revolutionary. Your skin needs oil to stay balanced – they are part of your skin’s natural makeup. Without them, your skin will never look its best.
Oils are vitamin treatments that will replenish and nourish the skin. Some oils, such as evening primrose oil, borage oil, and black current seed oil, contain ingredients that our bodies cannot produce on their own—and they contain them in high concentrations.
“But my skin is oily / I have an oily skin type” – When your skin is drenched with oil, it’s because it is not being given enough of it. So, it will overproduce it, eventually making you an oil slick.
Oils are miracle products – think vitamins, minerals, and plant extracts.
They are delicious, and they need to be a part of your routine. My motto in life truly is “Acids and oils. Acids and oils.” There are so many oils to choose from, which means you shouldn’t just buy the first one you see.
They are not a one-size-fits-all product. Begin with research and play around with what your skin wants and needs most.
Mistake #6. Thinking you need a power tool
Contrary to what the marketing industry and infomercials will tell you, you don’t need one of those spinning, battery operated, scrubbing cleansing brushes (another kind of product you’ll see new versions of every single day).
If you’ve never thoroughly washed your face, I’m sure that the first time you use one for over 10 seconds will leave you feeling pretty fresh. But using your two hands will give you this same clean feeling, without the tightness, when properly cleansing.
These brushes exacerbate skin conditions and can permanently damage the outermost layers of your skin. Also, let’s not get into how long people leave the brush heads on, breeding bacteria.
Put the sand-paper-feeling bacteria breeding tools away. Your skin should never feel “tight” after cleansing. Show it some love!
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