When it comes to skincare mistakes, I've made just about all of them. I mean that seriously. As I wrote in my post about my acne journey (and trust me, it's a Lord of the Rings style journey!), I've tried just about everything when it comes to skincare.
To preface, I am by no means an expert. If you're having serious issues with your skin, seeing a dermatologist or professional of your choice is paramount to finding the right treatment. However, for the average every day person, there are some little things we've all been taught (by teen magazines, primarily) help our skin. They are wrong and they can be doing more damage than you think. Here they are, the 4 skincare mistakes that almost everyone makes once and a while.
(Psst, don't forget to read my post on winter skincare essentials!)
1. Exfoliating too harshly, too much, or too often
When I was in college, I used this face wash from Clean & Clear that had little microbeads in it. (I've since learned that microbeads are one of the worst things to happen to our environment. Stop using microbeads!) I loved using it on my skin every night; I would scrub and scrub and scrub until my skin felt so soft and smooth.
Friends, this is not something you should do!
Recently, my friend asked me why she was having peeling skin on her nose. I asked about her routine. She said she used St. Ives Apricot Scrub every night, then used a face brush in the morning. I begged her (actually begged) to stop exfoliating. She had thought all the exfoliating would get the flaking skin off. I hated to be the bearer of bad news, but exfoliating damaged skin is just going to damage it more!
You should exfoliate one or two times a week, maximum. As well, scrubs like St. Ives Apricot Scrub are much too harsh for even once-a-week exfoliation. Using a soft face brush or an exfoliant with natural, rounded beads (that dissolve, unlike microbeads) will make your skin healthier and stronger.
2. Not Cleaning Your Make Up Brushes
When was the last time you cleaned your make up brushes? If you can't remember, it's been too long. For the health of your skin, you need to be washing your brushes at least once a week. And I mean, every single brush, including your beauty blender. Brushes can also harbor bacteria and mold, so if you have acne (like I do), cleaning is especially paramount. Spreading bacteria around your face is a definite no in terms of skin health!
3. Using Pore Strips
I used to love doing a pore strip. A few years ago, I learned that the dots on my nose were not blackheads like I thought, but sebaceous filaments. Sebaceous filaments are a natural part of human skin; they look dark and open, depending on your pore skin, and when squeezed, a small, plug of oil comes out. This can make you think that the oil isn't supposed to be there, but that's not true. It's just how our skin is and some people (like me) aren't genetically blessed with small pores, so ours look huge. You can shrink the size of your pores, but if you have flat, pinpricks across your nose that you think are blackheads, I have to tell you: that's just your skin, baby.
Pore strips often remove the oil plugs out of sebaceous filaments. Marketing on these products has made us think these are blackheads, but they aren't (I promise!). Pore strips can damage your skin, make you break out (because removing that oil plug allows bacteria into your pore), and can break capillaries in your nose (I've done it).
4. Using Inappropriate Acne Treatments (like Toothpaste)
When I was in college, a friend in my hallway knocked on my door and asked if I had any Windex. I said, yes, but what do you need it for?
"I have a zit," she replied, nonchalant. "And Windex kills zits."
Teen magazines have been spreading inaccurate information about how to treat zits for years. I remember smearing straight rubbing alcohol over my face once because a magazine said it helped acne (the chemical burn really hurt). I've also covered zits in toothpaste and gotten chemical burns.
The logic behind using things like Windex or toothpaste on acne kind of makes sense, but realistically, these products are not designed to use on the skin and you risk giving yourself a serious chemical burn that can include serious scarring and infection. Do not, I repeat, do not put anything not designed for the skin on your skin.
This includes "homemade masks" like honey and cinnamon (and any homemade mask you see on the internet that isn't backed up by science). I burned myself with a cinnamon mask once and ever since, I've been terrified to use it!