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20 Skincare Mistakes That Are Damaging Your Face

Most of us have a skincare routine that we stick to out of habit — it’s all about a repetition of steps you have to do day in and day out. But what if you are you repeating the wrong steps? Here are 20 of the top skincare habits we’re all guilty of.

Over Exfoliating

It’s tempting but highly damaging in the long term to buff away too much of your top skin layer. “You’re actually removing the protective barrier that your skin has,” says Dr. Ben Johnson, founder of Osmosis Pur Medical Skincare. “Once removed, your skin is exposed to environmental toxins and sun damage, causing aging.” Exfoliate two to three times a week, max.

Exfoliating Away Oily Skin

Not possible, says Florida-based esthetician Crystal McElroy. “People think that if they exfoliate with different scrubs they’ll eliminate issues like oily skin, but when your skin is over-scrubbed, the oil production actually speeds up because skin’s natural repair mechanism is put into overdrive.” Again, two to three times per week is sufficient for exfoliation.

Falling Into Bed With Your Makeup On

You can be forgiven for that one drunken night, but it can’t be a habit. “Not removing your makeup for the night clogs your pore and oil glands,” saysDennis Gross MD. “When makeup becomes impacted in pores, it makes them appear larger. Once your collagen levels decline, the pore won’t snap back as easily once it has been enlarged.” Plus, he says, it leads to inflammation.

Picking At Your Face

Most of us know we shouldn’t do this, but lots of us do it anyway. “Anytime you pick or pull at your skin, you are causing damage and creating irritation, scars and wrinkles,” says Johnson. Just. Stop.

Not Cleansing Properly

You may be diligent in makeup removal, but are you using the right cleanser to put your skin in optimal condition for overnight renewal? “Look for a cleanser that contains the right ingredients,” says Gross. “Things like antioxidants for protection, salicylic acid to help clear your pores, and witch hazel, which acts as a natural astringent.”

Using Dirty Makeup Brushes

Yes, it’s doing more damage to your skin than you think. “Invest in a brush cleaner, especially for your foundation brush,” says McElroy. We loveSephora Daily Brush Cleaner. “Keeping your brushes clean every day will ensure no dirt and old makeup buildup is going to effect your skin.”

Not Applying Products In The Correct order

“One of the keys to maximizing the benefits of the products in your regimen is to apply products with a thinner consistency before the thicker, creamier ones — no matter what their active ingredients are,” says Gross. “Products with heavier consistencies can block lighter weight ones from penetrating the skin and doing their job.

Over-Using All Of Your Products (Not Just Exfoliants)

Just like over-scrubbing, over-using your cleanser or retinol products also compromises your skin’s natural protective oil. “It isn’t necessary to cleanse in the morning and the evening,” says esthetician Andrea DeSimone. “The evening cleanse is crucial to removing dirt, oil and makeup, but during sleep, the oils that your skin produces are hydrating and balancing, so they shouldn’t be washed away in the morning.” She suggests buffing skin with a wet cotton washcloth in the morning instead of another round of cleanser.

Popping Pimples

We know you’ll do it sometimes, but it’s still a bad idea for your skin overall. “When a dermatologist drains a pimple they apply downward pressure,” says Dr. Gross, “but when people try to do it themselves, they squeeze from the side which ends up backfiring because it causes infection to go down deeper into the pore.” He advises washing your face with a clean washcloth. If the pimple is ready to pop, this is all the pressure needed to drain it.


Sleeping With Your Hair Out At Night

“Many people have perimeter and forehead breakouts due to the oil and hair care products that they use — especially those with long hair or bangs,” DeSimone notes. “Pull all of your hair off your face and clip your bangs back before bed.”

Not Washing Your Sheets & Pillowcases Frequently Enough

“Pillowcases accumulate a buildup of reside from things like conditioner and scalp oil that can clog your pores on your face over time,” says Gross. “You should change your pillow case at least once a week or more if you are more acne-prone. Wash in hot water to kill off dust mites that can cause allergies.”

Sleeping On A Cotton Pillowcase

Better yet, switch to silk. “Satin or silk minimizes permanent creases and complexion issues. Persistently pressing your face into a pillowcase causes trauma to the skin. Over time, this trauma aggravated by the friction of cotton can cause permanent creases as our collagen breaks down,” says Dr. Gross.

Not Wearing Sunscreen Every Day

It’s not just for the beach: The best protection against skin aging is a good sunscreen defense. “Wear it everyday, and look for one that has an SPF of 30 or higher,” says Florida-based dermatologist Marisa Potter. “It should also be broad spectrum, which means it helps to shield you from UVA rays (as well as UVB) which are known to cause photoaging of the skin.” She also advises applying sunblock to your chest and the top of your hands daily as well.

Not Getting Enough Sleep

“Getting a good night’s sleep helps your skin to look its best,” explains Dr. Gross. “When the skin is getting less than optimum rest, it becomes dull and pale with under-eye circles. A lack of sleep can be so stressful that it can cause our bodies — including our skin — to generate free radicals.”

Drying Out Your Skin

“We all break out,” says California-based dermatologist Howard Murad. “People with acne or the occasional pimple think they need to dry out their skin, so choose products that are too harsh — which can cause further irritation than the breakout itself.” He says to look for a treatment that soothes while it targets your skin concern, and to always finish with a hydrating moisturizer.

Eating a Bad Diet

In Dr. Gross’ words, what is good for the heart is good for the skin. “I recommend the tri-color salad approach,” he says. “Make sure they are a bunch of colors — red cabbage, green lettuce etc. Eat veggies that have a lot of color. Nature color codes them for us. The more colors you eat, the better.”

Not Moisturizing Oily Skin

Regardless of your skin type, it’s imperative that you moisturize daily and apply a heavier cream at night, says Dr. Murad. “It’s a common misconception that those with an oily skin should avoid moisturizers. In fact, it’s vital that even oily skin gets moisture because without it, skin will overcompensate for the loss of hydration [with more oil], leading to breakouts and an uneven skin texture.” Take note: Moisturizing adds water to the skin, not oil.

Loading Your Skin Up With Products At Night

Less is more, says McElroy. “After a normal cleansing routine, applying two or three different serums for a variety of concerns isn’t effective at all. All topical products are effective up to 0.3% absorption into skin so the more you add the less effective each of them is.” If you have multiple skin needs, alternate your serums.

Taking Too-Hot Showers

It’s tempting … but problematic for your skin. “Hot showers can strip your skin of essential moisture and healthy oils. I recommend taking warm, not hot showers,” says Dr. Murad.

Not Knowing What You Are Putting on Your Skin

How can you ever truly enjoy great skin if you don’t educate yourself on what you are putting on it? “Read up on ingredients and learn about what you are applying on yourself,” says McElroy. “Remember — price doesn’t always determine quality.”

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