Skincare Mistakes to Learn From

http://www.thirteenthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/skincare-tips.jpg

Long gone are days when I’d spend an entire afternoon rubbing baby oil (which was a step-up from vegetable oil I used to use when I was even younger) on my skin while lying out in the sun. The speedier and crispier my tan was- the better. Being tan not only made feel better about my looks, but I also found tanning to be very therapeutic; it always lifted my mood. If I had a stressful day, I loved visiting a tanning salon for a little pick-me-up.

Ah… to be young and stupid.

These days, I’m known for avoiding the sun and slathering myself in sunscreen from head to toe, before leaving the house.

SUNSCREEN

We all know by now that sunscreen is pretty important, right? Well, we should. I still hear so many people say: “but the sun isn’t out today“, “but it’s not hot“, “but we’re not going to the beach!?” If you want your skin to look good, even as you age, you need to wear sunscreen, even on those gloomy, cloudy days. Sun causes skin damage as UVA rays cause your skin to age and wrinkle much faster than it would, had it not been exposed. This means photoaging, sun spots and, of course, wrinkles. Aging is a part of life and it’s just a natural process- one that I honestly enjoy and look forward to. BUT, if aging skin is something you’re concerned about, remember that preventing things like sun damage is much easier than treatment (90% of skin aging is caused by sun exposure). Of course, there’s skin cancer too- something that one in five Americans will develop in their lifetime.

If you want to find a good sunscreen for your face check out this article. You should always use 1/4 teaspoon on your entire face, applying it AFTER your moisturizer. The earlier you start incorporating sunscreen into your skincare routine, the better, but it’s never too late to start. Use of sunscreen is especially important when using AHA/BHA or Vitamin C products (pretty much anything that helps fight hyperpigmenation, promotes skin renewing- not wearing proper sun protection while using these products can leave your skin vulnerable and produce reverse results e.g. your acne scars will get darker, instead of getting lighter).

OVER-EXFOLIATION + CLEANSING

This is something that I’ve been guilty of in the past. I recently started being a bit more open about my struggles with acne here on TT. In one of my previous posts I told you that one of the most irritating things about dealing with bad skin, is the unsolicited advice strangers feel obligated to give you; “Oh honey, your poor skin, listen my cousin’s sister’s daughter-in-law used this cream..” or “my daughter swears by this and this, you should try it“. And don’t even get me started on the “have you tried Proacitv?” (“have you tried getting punched in the  face?“) One thing that almost every single “beauty expert” at a department store would always say to me whenever I went to buy some makeup (makeup, not skincare..) was “oh you should totally exfoliate more often” or “you just need a good scrub“. So scrub I did. I scrubbed and scrubbed my skin, thinking I could “scrub” the acne away.

That only caused more breakouts but I continued on scrubbing, since that’s what I was told to do by someone, who I’m very sure meant well, but had no idea what they were talking about. Because I was over-exfoliating my skin, I was stripping its protective barrier, basically making thousands and thousands of tiny, microtears on my face. That left my skin red, sensitive  and caused major acne flare ups. Exfoliating is important, but it’s very easy to overdo it, especially when it comes to “mechanical” exfoliation. My skin did a complete 180 when I started treating it with more love (this included a lot of lifestyle changes like cutting dairy from my diet); I use gentle cleansers and swapped most of my scrubs and peels for chemical exfoliation (using AHA or BHA products). If you have active breakouts on your face, constant scrubbing will only irritate them and they will have a hard time healing.


You don’t have to look far to see that being “tough” on breakouts or problematic skin is the thing to do. Except, it’s not. Beauty magazines, beauty experts on TV- I’ve seen so many people say that a good *scrub* can help acne go away. It can’t and it won’t. I’ve done a lot of things that helped my acne go from severe to moderate before going on accutane. One of them was throwing away all my drying face wash products and swapping them for more delicate, gentle and foamy cleansers and gels that don’t dry out my skin. Once I started being more gentle with skin, things changed for the better.

DO YOUR RESEARCH

Pinterest is a wonderful place that I’m very much obsessed with, but every single time I see a “DIY face mask” post that tells you that you should be putting things like lemon juice, toothpaste, mouthwash or baking soda on your skin, I die a little inside. There are a lot of awesome, natural products that work great with your skin, like: coconut oil, avocado oil, honey, oats etc. but lemon mixed baking soda isn’t one of them. Yes, lemon juice can initially help lighten your acne scars, but at a cost. Lemon juice is highly acidic and applying it directly on your skin will irritate and disturb its protective acid mantle. Using lemon juice on your skin can also cause photosensitivity which often leads to hyperpigmentnation, or even something as severe as a chemical burn. Baking soda, on the other hand, is too alkaline to use on your face (your skin’s natural pH is 4.5-5.5 while baking soda has a pH of 9) and using it on your skin can damage its natural barrier. pH is very important in skincare, to learn more about it read this article.

Research and patch-testing are very important. Everyone’s skin is different and once you really dive into this whole skincare world, things get confusing. There are as many opinions as there are experts out there. I, for instance, don’t think mineral oil is evil and love sealing my face moisturizer with a thin layer of vaseline when my skin feels extremely dry- both are things some skin experts would cringe at. My current dermatologist doesn’t have a problem with vaseline or mineral oil either, but also recommended a *gentle* sunscreen for that burned the shit out of my skin. So yes, skincare is a very much an  individual thing, which is why doing own research is so important. It’s okay to take advice from other people, experts, bloggers, but keep in mind that everyone’s skin chemistry is different.

TAKING IT ALL OFF

Your skin naturally regenerates itself at night and if you still have your makeup on while you’re sleeping, you are not giving it a chance to recover from being exposed to free radicals- and this can lead to premature aging. Yes, I personally still know a few people who don’t think that not removing your makeup before going to sleep is a big deal. Heavy foundations, powders, silicon and/or oil based primers that “sit” on your skin will clog your pores and oil glands, which in turn can cause breakouts. Of course, your skin won’t be ruined if you happen to forget to take off your makeup once in a blue moon (after a long night out perhaps, when all you want to do is take off those heels and bury your face in the pillow). It doesn’t matter how late it is, doesn’t matter how tired I am, I can’t imagine going to sleep with my makeup on, and neither should you- especially if you have sensitive or acne-prone skin.

This is another area where being gentle matters a lot- using oils, creamy cleansers or balms is the best way to remove your makeup. You don’t want to tug on your skin with makeup wipes, or rub your eyes until all of the mascara comes off. Gentle is the way to go.

I’ve been guilty of doing every single thing mentioned in this post (except for not removing my makeup before going to sleep- I’m a little obsessed with cleanliness) and it took me a few years to figure out what my skin loves and what will never work for me.

My love for frying tanning began when I was very young. My cousin and I would spent our summer rubbing vegetable oil on our skin, sitting in the sun, all day long, reading magazines. At the end of the day, we’d compare our skin to see who ended up with a “better”, deeper tan. I’ll admit to being in love with tanning beds, too, during my High School years. And… yes.. we used to rub lemon on our faces, like there was no tomorrow and I actually ended up with awful burns on my face.

Well.. you live and learn.

Have you ever done anything cringe-worthy to your skin? Any mistakes you’ve leaned from?


  • I remember going to the beach somewhere in England for a small trip a few years ago and my other half and our friends laughed at me for putting sunscreen on because it was a bit cloudy. I ignored them and carried on. That evening, they were all burnt like anything and I was fine. It served them all a good lesson! x

    LuxeStyle

    • Haha, happens to me all the time! The argument that I don’t like the most is “but you won’t get a tan if you use sunscreen!” My husband calls me a vampire and jokes that I’m terrified of sun lol

      • Oh I’ve heard that so many times too! Well I would rather be pale or use fake tan than damage my skin!

  • I scrubbed so hard as a teenager. So glad these days are long gone :)

  • Thanks for these tips! Still trying to keep my stress levels at bay.. It seems like you can do only so much with products.
    xx finja | http://www.effcaa.com

    • You’re welcome! Lifestyle definitely also plays a huge role in your skin. If you have skin problems due to stress, I’d recommend you find a good Omega3 supplement, if you don’t already take it- did wonders for me. x

  • Claire Cavanagh

    I always apply sun cream on holiday/hot days but I definitely need to incorporate it into my daily skincare routine too!

    Claire | Vanity Claire xx

  • I used to be a tan lover and scrub advocat, but like you I have learned. I am 38 now and my skin is at its best. Sure, with a few lines here and there, but radiant, hydrated and a pleasure to look at.

    Linda, Libra, Loca: Beauty, Baby and Backpacking

  • I love these tips!! I do much of the same – especially washing my face before bed which I never skip out on as well. I am guilty of not using SPF during winter/autumn months though. That’s my next to-do! Thanks for your insight :)

    Deanna | http://www.luxandvitae.com

    • I don’t think I ever went to sleep with my makeup on, I usually have to take it off as soon as I get home. Definitely use sunscreen, never too late to start and your skin will thank you! ;)

  • These are all so important – especially the sun screen tip! It really amazes me how many people don’t understand how important it is!

    xo, Liz
    http://lipstickandconfetti.com

  • Lisa Autumn

    I am so guilty of not using SPF regularly.. really need to get into it :/ but I also haven’t found the right one for me yet..

    xx Lisa
    lisaautumn.com

    • I love one by Solar MD it’s so delicate and works great under makeup- they usually irritate my skin and I’m in love with that one.

  • Ana

    I think the most important thing is to take all your make up off! Even though I’m tired I always try to do it xxx
    http://fallingforablog.blogspot.com.es/2017/03/12-spring-must-haves.html

  • This is one the best post written in this subject and I love that you link some articles for further reading. I am guilty of over-exfoliating and used to apply acid toners twice a day. I know some people don’t mind that but my skin actually became better when I only apply gentle acid toner in the morning and then a retinol in the evening or a Vitamin C serum. And gosh, I couldn’t agree more with those DIY masks and scrubs, people really need to do their research before blindly following a recipe.

    • Thank you so much Shireen! I love using acids on my skin, so bummed that I have to avoid them for now since I’m on accutane. I had a few bad experiences with those DIY recipes but I do love using natural ingredients like coconut oil on my skin. Research is definitely important!

  • I also made the mistake of believing that “a good scrub” was the cure for acne… I do cringe at the lemon juice/baking soda masks on Pinterest, blergh! I’ve never been able to sleep in my make-up though, I think I’ve done it twice or maybe three times in my life haha :)

  • I couldn’t agree more about over-exfoliating and physical exfoliation in general and I made this mistake as well! I believe it is a generational issue, because when I was a teenager, all the magazines were crazy about peels and physical exfoliants, most of the articles were presenting them as the magic answer for every skin issue, and none of them were talking about sensitive skins! It is exactly the reason why I’m very careful about what I read in the magazines today! Lovely post!

    http://fannyanddailybeauty.com

    • YES! I used to read those tips in magazines too- it’s how I got into rubbing lemons on my face and elbows to lighten my skin haha :)

  • Kate

    I definitely used to over cleanse and over exfoliate! Took me years to learn the damage I was doing to my skin! x

    Kate Louise Blogs

  • I feel like I definitely over exfoliate too! I always thing that the spots will disappear after a good scrub!
    Kathy x
    Alongcamekathy

  • I used to over exfoliate and cleanse so horribly. I cringe at the thought! SPF is one I need to be even better about – sometimes on cloudy days I’ll let myself be lazy :(

    Jenn │ Beauty by Jellybean

    • I was horrible, I one time used something like pumice to scrub my skin because I thought it’d get rid of my scars. Ugh, my face hurts just thinking about it!

  • The Gossip Darling

    Excellent post!!!!!! Omg acne is such a game changer. After my round of acne meds, I feel like I have a PH D in skincare! Also, I ignore “experts” at the beauty counters. I’ve made sooo many mistakes and trying to learn from them!

    Mel | http://www.thegossipdarling.com

    • Thanks so much Mel! I used to cry about having acne but I honestly learned so much through my skin struggles- there’s definitely a silver lining there. :)

  • I am obsessed with your photography!! It is so gorgeous! Also great tips! I tend to forget about my skin care until I break out… Haha, I’m going to start using some of your tips!
    -Maddy
    cheers-maddy.com

  • YES! Thank you for writing such an excellent post – I have so many gripes with common skincare misconceptions!

    Lexie
    nailgirl.net

  • I wish I could say more often that I’ve learned so much from a blog post! I had no clue about the lemon and baking soda on your skin; as you said, things like pinterest and — sadly — blogs tell us so much about how to just ‘make your own skincare.’ I’ll leave it in the hands of experts, thanks. Also interesting what you said about exfoliation, and I dare say I am probably guilty of using too harsh scrubs on my face. As always, love our honesty and personality in posts, Paula, and I look forward to reading more!

    Eire | Wolf & Stag

    • Aww so sweet Eire, thank you so much! There are a lot of awesome DIYs out there, but sadly, most of them can be very harmful to your skin, even if your skin seems to look better at first.

      I’d substitute scrubs for a nice chemical exfoliant if I were you- that’s something that seriously made a huge difference in my skin.

  • I used to use scrubs years ago and I’m so glad I chanced upon beauty blogs that corrected it. Chemical exfoliation changed my skin for the better and I haven’t looked back since. I definitely regulate the frequency depending on how my skin is at the time but it’s a regular deal for me now.

    Advaita | Blush Canvas

  • The Sunday Mode

    This isn’t really skincare related but I used to try anything when I was younger to get rid of my cold sores so I’d try some bloody awful concotions that google said would work…toothpaste was one of the milder suggestions and I once held ice to my lip for an hour straight and when I pulled it away my lip was purple…yeah, not so pretty!

    I feel like I’m the only one who didn’t have a tanning phase either, my sister loves a good tan but I’ve always been the polar opposite of her. Pale white as a ghost and proud of it! haha

    Julia // The Sunday Mode

  • These are all the mistakes I managed to do too ;) Thankfully I’ve learnt lots more about skincare and good routine in the recent years and my skin is definitely much happier and healthier. x

    Mummy’s Beauty Corner

  • Basia Biskupiak

    Yeah, I applied 10% (!!!) salicylic acid on my face when I was a teenager and I started getting spots, and my skin turned oily. That was the advice “passed down” from mothers and also advice you’d hear from a pharmacist.. I’ll explain – I am from Poland and when I was growing up there really weren’t any products for people with acne. If you went to a pharmacy or drugstore, they’d advise you to put the said 10% salicylic acid concoction on your face as a toner (!). So, I burnt my skin and it took me a really long time to make it look somewhat smooth again. The huge pores I have to this day. And as for tanning – my grandma used to apply cocoa butter to get a beautiful deep tan.

  • Natalie Redman

    Great post! Thanks for sharing!

    http://www.upyourvlog.com