If you’re reading this post, I imagine you’re a bit frustrated with the results of your current skincare routine. As someone who has tried countless drugstore, high-end, and prescription skincare products in hopes of achieving clear skin with a healthy glow, I get it. The number of available options is overwhelming, and it’s difficult to know where to start. I remember when I first began working as a skincare consultant at Sephora, I had moderate acne that quickly got worse when I began sampling every product claiming to treat it– amateur move. Sometimes, it is not even the products themselves that cause us to see minimal results; it’s literally how we’re using them. Here are five easy-to-fix skincare mistakes that are keeping you from seeing optimal results with your skincare regimen.
If you’re using an abrasive physical scrub or chemical exfoliant every day, stop it. You’re doing your skin a huge disservice by scrubbing away new, healthy skin cells right along with the dead skin. You should aim to exfoliate no more than 3 times per week for normal skin, and up to twice per week for sensitive skin. At one point, I was exfoliating almost every day, and my skin hated it; I actually experienced more breakouts, resulting in post-acne scarring. After a visit to my dermatologist, I learned that I had dry, sensitive skin and that I should only be exfoliating once– no more than twice– per week. Go figure.
Treating Dry Skin As Oily Skin
Knowing your skin type is half the battle. A lot of people associate acne with oily skin, but here’s the kicker: all skin types can be prone to acne, including dry skin. As a matter of fact, skin has the tendency to overproduce oil, when it lacks water. So, how do you determine whether you have dry, oily, combination or ‘normal’ skin? Wash your face with a basic cleanser like Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser, wait 30 minutes to an hour without applying any other products, and look for these cues:
- Dry: Skin feels tight or becomes flakey.
- Combination: Skin feels greasy in the T-zone (forehead, nose, and chin), but tight on cheeks
- Oily: Skin feels greasy in both the T-zone and on cheeks
- Normal: Skin feels neither tight, nor oily; unicorn skin
Once you have figured out your skin type, shop accordingly.
Confusing Moisture With Hydration
When shopping for the right products for your skin type, it’s important to understand the difference between moisture and hydration, as the two terms can be used interchangeably by marketers. Don’t fall for the hype, because, some of the most popular moisturizers on the market are not all that hydrating. The difference is kind of obvious: The root word of hydration is hydrate, which denotes a substance that contains water. Therefore, more hydrating products are water-based and work to increase the water content in your skin. Moisturizing ingredients, such as humectants are designed to seal the water or hydration already in your skin. This is confusing because moisture is determined by the physical or surface qualities of the skin (soft and supple to the touch), whereas hydration is more internal, and not always obvious. My tips: Drink more water to keep your skin hydrated.
Using Too Many Darn Products
One you’ve figured out your skin type and invested in a suitable cleanser, toner, and moisturizer, you should probably leave it at that. Though, adding one or two concern-specific skin treatments (essences, spot treatments, masks, serums, eye creams) is totally fine. Just don’t overdo it. An acceptable daily regimen includes a cleanser, toner, essence, serum, eye cream, and moisturizer in that order. Treatments such as exfoliants and face masks can be used one to three times per week as targeted treatments. If you do more than this, your skin may not know how to react which brings us to the final mistake, inconsistency in skincare.
Perhaps the most common skincare mistake is inconsistency. We’ve all been guilty, as this mistake is heavily influenced by our lifestyle. Went out, had a few drinks, and forgot to wash your face before going to bed? You’d be lying if you said it hasn’t happened to you, at least once. My friends can attest to the fact that I don’t care how many drinks I’ve had or how late I make it home, I’m not going to bed without washing my face, applying my retinol cream and putting on my bonnet. I digress. Sticking with a routine is key. Give new products at least two weeks before determining that they’re not for you. Switching products too often can confuse you and your skin, and you’ll never know what is actually working or making your break out.