Sure, you take care of your skin, but are you doing it right? No matter how much you think you know, there could be a few bad habits that are preventing you from putting your best face (and body) forward. Here are some of the biggest mistakes to avoid, according to a derm, along with what do instead.
MISTAKE #1: CLEANSING TOO OFTEN
“People think that the more they wash their face, the less they’ll get acne, but most of the time, that’s not the case,” says Vivian Shi, MD, a dermatologist and an assistant professor at the University of Arizona. “When you’re cleansing constantly, the soap from the face wash can strip the top layer of oil on the skin and trigger the release of more oil, which can cause clogged pores, whiteheads and blackheads.”
For balanced skin, she recommends cleansing no more than twice a day, then following with a moisturizer. A good winter option: Burt’s Bees Intense Hydration Day Lotion.
MISTAKE #2: TUGGING AT YOUR EYE AREA
Nothing against laugh lines, but rubbing and pulling at the thin, delicate skin around your eyes could make them pop up before their time.
To take off eye makeup without vigorous rubbing, hold a remover-soaked cotton pad against your lids for about 30 seconds before gently whisking it away. Use a light touch when putting on your eye cream, too: Just pat it along your contours with your ring finger, which applies less pressure than your other digits. Keep tap-tap-tapping until the cream sinks into your skin.
MISTAKE #3: CHOOSING THE WRONG PRODUCTS FOR YOUR SKIN TYPE
While it’s tempting to play around with the gazillion products that are out there now, your best bet is to stick with items that are designed to give your skin type what it needs. If you have dry skin, opt for a regimen that delivers extra moisture. If you’re prone to breakouts, scan your product labels for ingredients that prevent acne, such as salicylic acid.
The ideal product texture varies based on skin type, too. For example, oilier complexions can handle a foaming face wash, while gentle, creamy cleansers are best if your skin is sensitive.
For sensitive types, it’s also about what’s not in your products. Pamper your complexion with cleansers and moisturizers that are free of fragrance and harsh irritants, like Burt’s Bees Sensitive Skin range. The collection is also made with rice extract, which Dr. Shi says is “very soothing.” Clueless about your skin type? Consult with a derm.
Perfect for Sensitive Skin
MISTAKE #4: LATHERING UP ALL OVER
“We don’t live in hunter-gatherer times anymore, and most people aren’t covered in dirt at the end of the day,” says Dr. Shi. Save the shower gel for the spots where you have glands or skin folds. “You really only need to apply body wash to what I call the ‘stinky’ areas. That’s behind the ears, the armpits, and your [groin],” explains Dr. Shi. (Be sure to avoid washing the inside of your vagina.)
MISTAKE #5: APPLYING TOO MUCH PRODUCT
This is the one skincare crime that even Dr. Shi copped to committing occasionally. Although it’s tempting, less is more when it comes to your skincare products. “I think we’re very ambitious people and we live in a culture where we think more is better—that’s why we have Costco. But you don’t need to use as much product as you think.”
Shocking, but true: “A pea-sized amount of moisturizer is enough to cover the entire face. Beyond that, you’re basically wasting money. Just dab it evenly on the four quadrants—the forehead, each cheek, and the chin area, then spread it out,” says Dr. Shi. For everything else in your medicine cabinet, this is exactly what size blob to use:
- Pea-sized: Face lotions, face creams, and hand and foot creams
- Grape-sized: Cleansers, toners/waters, masks, and body moisturizers
- Rice-sized: Eye creams, serums, and treatments
A good rule of thumb is to apply the lightest weight product first—like a serum—then layer heavier products such as a lotion, cream, or sunscreen on top.
MISTAKE #6: SLEEPING WITH MAKEUP ON
Yes, it happens to the best of us, but that doesn’t make going to bed wearing makeup okay. “Makeup can block the sweat and oil glands temporarily, so if you’re sweating at night or have more oil production, it could potentially clog your pores.”
Snoozing in mascara or eye shadow can also lead to issues. “Eye makeup can end up inside your eyes while you sleep. That can cause conjunctivitis and eyelid dermatitis, which is inflammation of the eyelid because that skin is the thinnest in the body and the most sensitive,” Dr. Shi says. If you’re truly too tired to do your whole routine, at least use a wipe.
MISTAKE #7: DOING YOUR SKINCARE ROUTINE IMMEDIATELY BEFORE BED
“Apply your skincare products and acne medications at least one hour before bed so they have the chance to work into the skin. Otherwise, all your money is going into your pillowcase and hair,” says Dr. Shi.
Plus, the closer you get to bedtime, the sleepier (i.e. lazier) you might get. So, get it out of the way and enjoy some me time, whether that means unwinding with a good book or a journaling session.