Taking care of our skin is essential for maintaining a healthy and achieving radiant complexion. Unfortunately, even with the best intensions, many people unknowingly commit common skincare mistakes that can hinder their progress. In this blog, we will explore some of these mistakes and provide helpful tips to help you avoid them. By rectifying these errors, you can unlock the true potential of your skincare routine and attain skin that is not only healthier, but also more beautiful skin.
1. Sleeping with makeup on
One of the most harmful skincare mistakes people make is going to bed without properly removing their makeup. When makeup is left on overnight, it can clog the pores, leading to breakouts, congestion and a lackluster complexion. Properly cleansing your face before bedtime should be a non-negotiable part of your skincare routine. By removing all traces of makeup, you allow your skin to “breathe” and repair itself while you sleep.
2. Over cleansing
This is a common mistake, particularly among individuals with oily skin. Contrary to what might be expected, excessive cleansing can actually trigger your skin to produce more oil. This occurs because the natural oils are constantly being washed away, causing skin to compensate by overproducing sebum. Surprisingly, water can also affect your skin’s pH balance and cause irritation. Your skin’s pH is supposed to be slightly acidic, which average is below 5. Water, on the other hand, is alkaline, meaning that splashing your face with water multiple times per day could be ruining your skin. Imbalanced skin pH can disrupt the protective barrier, leading to dry patches, redness and aged skin and triggers inflammatory skin diseases like rosacea, acne and eczema. Cleansing your face twice a day is generally sufficient.
3. Over exfoliation
Exfoliating is an excellent way to slough off dead skin cells and reveal a fresh complexion as dead skin cells is the main culprit in causing dull-looking skin. There are two types of exfoliation, chemical exfoliation and mechanical exfoliation. Chemical exfoliation involves the use of acids like AHA (Alpha Hydroxy Acid) and BHA (Beta Hydroxy Acid) to dissolve and remove dead skin cells. Mechanical exfoliation involves tools such as brushes or sponges, or scrubs to physically remove dead skin cells. However, over exfoliating can damage the skin’s natural barrier and cause increased sensitivity. To prevent this, especially if you have sensitive skin, it is important to steer clear of harsh scrubs or excessive exfoliation frequency. Instead, opt for gentle exfoliants and limit it to 2 to 3 times per week.
What is skin barrier?
Your skin serves a vital role in protecting against infections, irritants, and molecules that can trigger skin allergies. The outermost layer of your skin, known as the stratum corneum acts as the first line of defense. However, various factors can disrupt the skin’s barrier function, including conditions like atopic dermatitis (eczema), acne, rosacea, as well as self- inflicted cause like over-exfoliation.
Indications of a compromised skin barrier include dryness and flakiness, accompanied by itchiness, pain, and a rough texture. Such damage can also lead to breakouts and inflamed red skin. Genetic defects partially contribute to conditions like rosacea and eczema, and further harm to the skin barrier can trigger exacerbations of these conditions.
How to repair broken skin barrier?
First of all, stop ALL your skincare products, including sunscreen for a few days and all your actives like retinol, retinoids, AHA, BHA, Vitamin C as well as harsh cleansers or scrubs. Generally, skin barrier function can be restored in 2 to 5 days, although it may take longer for individuals with conditions like rosacea or dermatitis.
There are several beneficial ingredients for improving barrier function. This includes hyaluronic acid, ceramides, squalene, niacinamide, tocopherol and linoleic acid. Once barrier function is reestablished, it is recommended to introduce niacinamide as the first skincare active.
4. Skipping sunscreen or not enough sunscreen:
Neglecting to apply sunscreen daily is a grave mistake. Sun damage is a leading cause of many problems like premature aging, dark spots, and even skin cancer. It is important to protect your skin by consistently wearing sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 30, regardless of whether it is a sunny or cloudy days. Consider it a non-negotiable part of your skincare routine. If you are too lazy for skincare, at least put on your sunscreen. It is particularly important to apply sunscreen if your skincare routine includes ingredients like retinol, AHA, BHA and Benzoyl Peroxide in your skincare routine, as these ingredients can increase sensitivity to sun.
Ensuring adequate sunscreen application is just as important as using sunscreen itself. Ideally, a quantity of 3 to 5ml is recommended for optimal coverage, and don’t forget to reapply every 2 to 4 hours. If you use less than the recommended amount, you are reducing the effectiveness of SPF by half. So, are you applying enough?
5. Using the wrong products for your skin type:
One common mistake I often notice among my clients is choosing skincare products without considering the ingredients and their respective effects. Some individuals incorporate multiple active ingredients into a single routine and ended up with broken skin barrier, while some with oily skin use too much moisturising products or heavy formulations, leading to clogged pores and acne.
Using skincare products that are not suitable for your skin type can be counterproductive. For instance, applying heavy, oil-based products on oily skin can congest the pores and lead to breakouts. It is important to determine your skin type (dry, oily, combination, sensitive) and select products specifically formulated to address your needs. If your concern is hyperpigmentation, opt for products that target pigments instead. There are various skin lightening agents available, including vitamin C, niacinamide, arbutin, kojic acid, licorice extract, cysteamine, tranexamic acid, retinol, retinoids, azelaic acid, glycolic acid and more.
6. Overloading your skin with products:
If you are interested in skincare, you have probably come across the popular Korean 10-steps skincare routine:
Step 1: Makeup removal & oil cleansing
Step 2: Water based cleansing
Step 3: Exfoliator
Step 4: Toner
Step 5: Essence Step 6: Serum
Step 7: Sheet masks
Step 8: Eye cream
Step 9: Moisturiser
Step 10: Sunscreen or night cream
While it is important to have a consistent skincare routine, you should avoid overloading your skin with too many products at once. Applying excessive number of products simultaneously can possibly overload your skin, result in irritation and potentially worsen the condition of your skin. If your skin can tolerate all these products and shows improvement, good for you!
7. Not allowing enough time:
Another common skincare mistake is being inconsistent with your skincare routine and giving up too quickly. Many people make the mistake of discontinuing product usage when they don’t see immediate improvement. It is natural to desire instant results, but skincare requires time and patience, as the effectiveness of different ingredients varies. It is recommended to allow at least 4 to 8 weeks for a new product to show its effects, with optimal results often observed around the 3-month mark. Here are some examples of ingredients and the durations typically needed before visible results:
- Retinol: 10-16 weeks
- Vitamin C: 5-8 weeks
- Glycolic acid: 4-6 weeks
- Salicylic acid: 4-6 weeks
- Azelaic acid: 3-4 weeks
Ingredients that inhibit pigmentation like Vitamin C, arbutin, licorice extract work by suppressing pigment production. Results from these ingredients often become noticeable 6 to 8 weeks after starting topical application. Exfoliants like AHAs and BHAs work relatively faster as they increase cell turnover rate in the upper layers of the skin. Retinol and retinoids require more time as they influence DNA expression. Therefore, patience is the key when incorporating these ingredients into your skincare routine. Establish a routine and commit to it.
8. Layering skincare in incorrect order:
You might be wondering “Why is getting the order correct so important?”. This is because the order of your application impacts the penetration and efficacy of skincare actives. Applying water-based products after oil based ones, for example, can hinder the penetration of the former and hence compromise their effectiveness.
To achieve optimal results, it is important to follow the correct order of application. Begin with the thinnest consistency and move towards thicker and heavier products. For example, start with toners and serums, followed by lotions, creams and finally oils. This sequence allows for better absorption and utilization of the skincare products.
9. Using your skincare wrongly:
Some clients express concerns about using retinol due to its potential for skin irritation. When first incorporating retinol into your skincare routine, your skin is getting used to the effects of retinol, and may develop a bit of irritant dermatitis. It typically manifests as redness and multiple small bumps in the skin that occurs around follicles. These can create rough, uneven skin texture, resembling the appearance of sandpaper. The affected areas may feel sore, dry and exhibit peeling. Sensitive sites such as around the mouth and eyes are more prone to this reaction.
However, there are strategies to minimize the risk. Firstly, you can start with lower concentration, such as retinol 0.5% or retinyl palmitate. Begin by applying every other night and gradually increase the frequency as your skin tolerates, eventually reaching nightly use.
Retinol should be applied at PM. After cleansing, allow a few minutes for your skin to fully dry. This is because when your skin is still damp, the retinol can be absorbed more deeply into your skin and might cause irritation. Then, moisturize 20 minutes after. As your skin becomes acclimated to retinol, you can consider progressing to higher concentration like retinol 1%, followed by retinaldehyde, tretinoin or adapalene. Be sure to put on broad-spectrum sunscreen the following morning since retinol can increase skin sensitivity to sunlight. This step will help protect your skin from potential sun damage. By following these guidelines, you can minimize the likelihood of irritation and introduce retinol into your skincare routine effectively.
What to do when you have developed retinoid dermatitis?
First thing to do is to withhold the retinoid and allow your skin to recover. During this period, it is advisable to switch to gentle cleansers and moisturiser to soothe your skin. You should also avoid using other active ingredients like AHAs and BHAs. It is very important to put on sunscreen regularly as inflamed skin can react unpredictably to sun exposure- often causing mottled hyperpigmentation.
Experiencing retinoid dermatitis does not mean you should completely avoid using retinol or retinoid in the future. You can reintroduce them after your skin has healed, but make sure to follow the measures mentioned above to minimise the risk of skin irritation.
10. Picking and popping pimples:
It can be tempting to squeeze or pick your acne, but this habit can result in scarring, infection and further inflammation. Resist the urge to pop pimples. Instead, focus on treating breakouts with appropriate skincare products, topical medications or seek professional procedural treatments if necessary. Allow your skin the time it needs to heal without popping it. It is also important to refrain from touching your face and to minimize any friction or pressure on your skin, as these actions can trigger a specific form of acne known as acne mechanica. This type of acne breakouts occurs when the skin experiences rubbing, squeezing, or stretching. Common culprits behind acne mechanica include sports equipment, clothing, prolonged sitting or lying down, and resting your face on your pillow or arms while sleeping.
11. Neglecting your neck area:
Many individuals prioritise skincare routines for their facial skin but often overlook the equally important care required for the neck and décolletage areas. It is vital to remember that these regions are also subject to sun exposure, similar to the face. Over time, they can also experience ‘wear and tear’, loss of hydration and collagen, and hence the development of wrinkles, fine lines and sagginess. This is precisely why people often say, ‘Your neck reveals your age’.
In reality, the skin on your neck is naturally thinner, making it more susceptible to premature aging. Additionally, our modern affection for smartphones and tablets has introduced the ‘tech neck’- formation of horizontal lines on the neck due to repetitive posture of tilting the head downward while using these devices. So, you should extend your skincare regimen to include your neck and décolletage. By giving these areas the attention they deserve, you can ensure a more balanced a youthful appearance.
In the quest for healthier, radiant skin, avoiding these common skincare mistakes is a pivotal step. Remember, skincare is not just about following the latest trends or purchasing expensive products; it is about understanding your skin’s unique needs and being consistent with your routine.