Long gone are days when I’d lie in my grandma’s backyard, putting baby oil on my legs and arms, hoping I’d get a better tan… Long gone are days when I soaked my face in lemon juice, hoping it would help heal my acne marks. Long gone are days when I went to sleep, with makeup still on my face.. oh, no.. wait, I never did that one.. but I’m definitively guilty of the other three! Here are four skincare mistakes that I was, -and you may be- making.
1. You don’t remove your makeup before going to sleep.
So this one is a bit overplayed, but it doesn’t mean that it isn’t important. 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. Additionally, 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) although I won’t even do that. It doesn’t matter how late it is, doesn’t matter how tired I am, you will never catch me going to sleep with my makeup on, and neither should you- especially if you have sensitive or acne-prone skin.
2. You’re over-exfoliating.
This is something that I’ve been guilty of in the past. Having suffered from acne for years, one thing that always irritated me was the unsolicited skincare advice I’d receive from complete strangers: “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 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, microscopic cuts (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; 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 real hard time healing.
3. You use Pinterest as your “go-to” source for skincare advice.
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 so called “experts” out there who will try to convince you that you can get rid of blackheads in just a week, simply by rubbing lemon on your nose, or that you can lose up to 10lbs overnight by slathering yourself with coffee grinds mixed with olive oil and sleeping covered with seran wrap. But you’re smarter than that, right? Listen, there are a lot of awesome, natural products that work great with your skin, like: coconut oil, avocado oil, honey etc. but lemon or baking soda ain’t one of them. Yes lemon juice can initially help lighten your acne scars, but do you know at what 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. Doesn’t sound fun, does it? Baking soda, on the other hand, is too alkaline to use on your face (your skin’s natural pH is 4.5-5 while baking soda has a pH of 9!) and using it on your skin will damage its natural barrier and increase moisture loss. Now I’m not calling myself an “expert” but all it takes is some minor research to find scientific proof that most of skincare advice on Pinterest is nonsense. When I see beauty magazines, established bloggers and other “beauty experts” with hundreds of thousands of readers saying that a simple mix of lemon juice and baking soda will help you have flawless and healthy skin, I get a little upset. Next time you see a “DIY” skincare post on Pinterest, make sure you think twice about putting something that’s used to clean toilets on your face.
4. You don’t use sunscreen.
Years a go, I’ve read a magazine interview with Dita Von Teese who, undeniably, has the most stunning, flawless, porcelain skin. When asked what her secret to such gorgeous skin was, she replied “A great dermatologist and a good sunscreen.” It seems that by now, everyone is well aware of the importance of using sunscreen, yet so many of us still didn’t make it a habit to use it on daily basis: “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 great, 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. With things like these, it’s much better-and easier- to prevent, rather than treat. 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- 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).
I’m sure that I could probably sit here and talk about at least ten other mistakes that we all make when it comes to skincare, but these four are definitely some that have had the biggest impact on my skin (other than changing my diet). As always, keep in mind that everyone’s skin is different and, that again, I am in no way claiming to be a “skincare expert” but I’ve done a fair amount of research in this area over the years. Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter how hard I try to convince everyone I know that avoiding these mistakes will give them better, healthier skin; I still know people who insist that sleeping in makeup actually makes their skin look younger and that using sunscreen on a cloudy day is pointless ;) . Are you/were you ever guilty of any of these four mistakes?