Whether you have a 12-step skincare regimen or only just introduced yourself to daily cleansing (better late than never!), chances are that you’re making some mistakes along the way. Skin care is essentially chemistry, which means trial and error are naturally part of the process. But we’re here to guide you through the intimidating space of serums, moisturizers, and cleansers to help you achieve your healthiest complexion. Luckily, the most common skincare missteps can easily be fixed. See if you’re guilty of any of the six below.
Not washing your face before bed.
We’re not judging, but this is one dirty habit you need to break immediately. Sweat, dirt, and oil build up on your skin throughout the day, and heading straight to bed is only allowing all that grime to sit on your face overnight. And splashing your face with water does not count. This step is especially critical for those with acne-prone skin, but regardless of your skin type, you’ll want to opt for a gentle cleanser that won’t strip away your natural moisture barrier.
Washing your face with body products.
If you are washing your face daily but you’re using a product that’s not specifically made for facial application, you’re likely drying out or irritating your skin. Body wash and soap bars are not a multi-use sort of situation because they’re typically formulated with harsher ingredients than face-specifc products are. Additionally, body care that’s formulated with essential oils, fragrances, or sulfates may cause irritation on the face for those with sensitive skin.
After cleansing your face twice a day, you’ll want to follow with a moisturizer to help balance and hydrate your skin. Apply a nickel-sized amount — overloading can clog pores and lead to breakouts — of a moisturizer that’s best suited for your skin type. A richer cream is usually a good choice for dry skin, while a lighter gel formula is best for oily or acne-prone skin. If you have combination skin, meaning certain areas of your face are drier or more oily than others, stick to oil-free products that aren’t too heavy.
Not wearing sunscreen every day.
Skipping this last and very crucial step is a harmful offence that both men and women are commonly guilty of. After cleansing and moisturizing, you must always complete your routine with a daily SPF. We even broke down how to choose the best sunscreen for your face, so we’re not accepting any excuses. Even if you plan to spend the majority of your day indoors, regularly leaving your face unprotected from sun exposure (even on cloudy days) can only do more harm than good. Do yourself a favor and apply a face sunscreen before you head out the door to shield yourself from accelerated aging and cancer-causing rays.
Using harsh scrubs.
Regular exfoliation is highly encouraged for healthy cell turnover (ak.a. softer, smoother skin), but only if you’re using the correct products. In general, you should avoid using abrasive exolifators like ones made with nut shells, salts, and sugars. Many find large granules like these to be too harsh on the skin, causing dryness and irritation. Instead, incorporate a chemical exfoliant that will slough off dead skin cells to reveal fresh skin without scraping it raw. Look for products made with AHAs like glycolic acid and lactic acid, or BHAs (ideal for acne-prone skin) such as salicylic acid.
Not applying products in the correct order.
Even if you’re using all the right products, you may not be getting the most out of your routine if you’re applying them in the incorrect order. A good rule of thumb to follow: always apply thinner products before thicker ones. Otherwise, doing the reverse, such as applying a serum on top of a cream, will prevent it from penetrating and doing its job. And again, don’t forget to apply your sunscreen last!