We all want our skin to look and feel its best, but there is so much misinformation available about skincare products and treatments that it can be difficult to determine what you should and should not be doing when caring for your skin. According to Dr. Chase Kwon of U.S. Dermatology Partners in Fairfax, Virginia, “Even if you have a great skincare routine, there are certain habits that will negatively impact the health and appearance of your skin. A dermatologist can help you improve your skincare routine and change your lifestyle habits to ensure you keep your skin looking great.” In this blog, Dr. Kwon walks through 20 bad skincare habits you should break.
1 – Skipping Daily Sunscreen Application
When it comes to sunscreen, Dr. Kwon says, “As a dermatologist, I always recommend my patients apply sunscreen every day to any part of their skin that will be exposed to sunlight in order to minimize sun damage, which not only increases the risk of skin cancer development, but has a profound impact on skin aging. That probably won’t be a shock, but many people still skip their daily sunscreen application. Even if you just apply sunscreen to your face, neck, and hands, it can make a big difference. Look for a sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB rays. This will be marketed as broad-spectrum. You should also look for an SPF of 30 or higher.” One of the best everyday sunscreens on the market is ALASTIN Skincare SilkSHIELD All Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30 with TriHex Technology. In addition to strong, broad-spectrum sun protection, this ultra-lightweight, silky product also includes anti-aging ingredients.
2 – Using the Wrong Skincare Products for Your Skin Type
When it comes to choosing skincare products for your skin type, Dr. Kwon says, “Many products are multi-purpose or general-purpose, which means they are safe and effective for most skin types. If you’re a lucky person who has a balanced skin tone (not too oily or dry), you can likely use any skincare products that will address your individual needs or skin health goals. For any other skin type, you’ll want to look for products made specifically for you. Working with a dermatologist, you can develop a customized skincare plan that is right for you.”
3 – Not Applying Products at the Right Time
Another important element of any skincare routine is how you apply the products. A good rule of thumb is to apply your products in order from thinnest to thickest. Some products should also be used at specific times of the day. An obvious example would be sunscreen. That’s a product you should apply in the morning before you head outside. Another product that should be used in the morning is a vitamin C or other antioxidant serums. These products are designed to prevent oxidative damage caused by exposure to sunlight, pollutants, toxins, chemicals, and other irritants in the environment. Retinols and alpha-hydroxy acids can increase sun sensitivity, so they should be applied as part of your evening skincare routine. Moreover, certain retinols and retinoids are photolabile, meaning that exposure to the sun can deactivate their ingredients. So, using these products at the wrong time of day means you may still experience their side effects but reap none of their rewards.
4 – Taking Very Hot Showers & Baths
When it’s cold outside, there’s nothing more luxurious than a nice, hot shower or bath, but this can actually be hard on your skin. It may seem counterintuitive but taking showers or baths with very hot water strips moisture from the skin, leading to dryness. It’s important to limit your time in the shower or bath to no more than 5 to 10 minutes and avoid using very hot water, opting for lukewarm water instead. You should pat your skin dry gently with a towel. Then, apply a good moisturizer immediately to seal in all the moisture from the shower or bath.
5 – Skipping Post-Workout Showers
Without showering and cleaning the face after a workout, pores may become clogged with sweat, oils, cosmetics, and other foreign matter. It’s important to shower away anything that has accumulated on the skin and in the pores during exercise. At the very least, you should be washing your face. If you can’t shower right away, dry your skin before getting dressed in clean clothes to prevent trapping excess moisture and oils on the skin. Plan to shower as soon as possible.
6 – Ignoring Skin Cancer Warning Signs
It’s important to examine your skin at least once each month and contact a professional if you notice any changes at all. This includes changes in the color, texture, or other aspects of skin that can be indicative of concerns, including skin cancer. You should be especially quick to talk to your dermatologist if you notice warning signs of skin cancer. To remember the common symptoms of skin cancer, just think of your ABCDEs:
- A – Asymmetry – Any spots or lesions that cannot be cut in half to produce two equal parts
- B – Border – Spots typically have a smooth border, but if you notice a rippled or jagged edge, it may be a concern
- C – Color – If a lesion differs in color compared to other similar spots or has more than one color within the same spot
- D – Diameter – The size of lesions can be very telling. If a spot is larger than the diameter of a standard pencil eraser, it’s more likely to be concerning
- E – Evolution – Any lesion that is changing rapidly should be examined by a dermatologist
7 – Using too Many Abrasive Skincare Products
Retinols, acids, and other abrasive products play an important role in skincare routines, but they need to be used sparingly. When used too often or applied together, these products can cause serious skin irritation and inflammation. Certain areas like the under-eyes and neck can be especially sensitive. In fact, adverse reactions to strong retinols are so common there’s a word for it – retinization. Consult with a dermatologist to determine the right combination of products and create a plan to incorporate these products without causing skin damage.
8 – Not Exfoliating or Choosing the Wrong Exfoliants
When most people hear the word ‘exfoliant,’ they imagine harsh scrubs and abrasive products that can actually damage the skin. According to Dr. Kwon, “I find that with exfoliants people often take an all-or-nothing approach. They either use a very harsh sugar scrub or other very abrasive product, or they don’t use an exfoliant at all. There are some great exfoliants out there that are gentle on the skin. Incorporating a gentle exfoliant a few times a week will improve skin cell turnover and help to keep pores clear.”
9 – Tugging, Pulling & Scrubbing Skin
According to Dr. Kwon, “Scrubbing and tugging at the skin is a common habit, especially when washing the face or removing makeup. Being too rough with your skin can increase the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines. It also causes unnecessary irritation, inflammation, and skin redness. Being too rough with the sensitive skin around the eyes can leave them looking puffy. Instead of scrubbing, apply products gently and use makeup removers to make cosmetics removal easier.”
10 – Not Drinking Enough Water
Many people think that the source of dry skin is not applying enough moisturizer, but actually, skin dryness often starts below the surface. When the body is dehydrated, there is not adequate moisture for internal functions, so it will retain the available moisture for more important functions, causing the skin to dry out. By drinking plenty of water, you are keeping your body healthier and preventing skin dryness.
11 – Eating the Wrong Foods
Nutrition is an important part of skin health. The foods we eat power our bodies and give us the nutrients to maintain healthy cells and tissue, including skin cells. Without adequate nutrition, skin will start to look and feel less healthy. Eating a variety of nutritious foods is essential. In addition to finding the right foods, it’s also important to avoid eating the wrong things. According to Dr. Kwon, “Certain foods can trigger flare-ups in chronic skin conditions or worsen symptoms of skin conditions like eczema, acne, and rosacea. Moreover, certain conditions like psoriasis and hidradenitis suppurativa have been shown to reflect a higher risk of metabolic syndrome including heart disease, so optimal nutrition may be especially imperative. There are some common offenders, but you should partner with a dermatologist to review foods you consume and track any increase in your symptoms over time.”
12 – Missing Out on Your Beauty Sleep
Rest is essential to skin and whole-body health. While we sleep, our body regenerates cells, heals itself, and resets from the day. For this reason, it’s important to get an adequate amount of sleep. The amount of sleep you need will vary based on your age and a wide range of other factors, including individual preferences and abilities. Some people just function well on less sleep than others. You can make some small changes in your daily routine that will improve your quantity and quality of sleep. First, try to go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day whenever possible. Additionally, avoid napping, especially if you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. You can also limit or cut out caffeine, in addition to putting down that phone and minimizing screen time right before bed.
13 – Smoking & Drinking Alcohol
Dr. Kwon says, “Your general physician will tell you to avoid smoking and consuming excessive amounts of alcohol. As a dermatologist, I will tell you the same thing. The damaging effects of smoking and drinking on the body also impact the skin. They can cause accelerated signs of aging, skin dullness, uneven skin tone and texture, and other issues in the health and appearance of skin.”
14 – Using Skin Tag Removal Products & Devices
If you’re concerned about skin tags, Dr. Kwon says, “If you have a skin tag that bothers you, talk to your dermatologist about professional removal that is safe, quick, and painless. At-home treatment products can damage healthy skin around the skin tag, and removal devices increase the risk for scarring and infection.”
15 – Popping Pimples
Pimple popping may be trending in online videos, but Dr. Kwon says, “It’s important to avoid popping pimples. I know it can be tempting, especially when blemishes are irritated or inflamed, but popping pimples is much more likely to cause skin redness, swelling, infection, and scarring. While that pimple you or your child may be worried about before a school dance or some other social event will come and go if you leave it alone, soon escaping your memory, a scar formed by popping that same pimple will remain for decades to come. The same is true of picking at dry skin or scabs. Allow skin to heal naturally on its own and apply skincare products as necessary to promote healing.”
16 – Skipping Antioxidants
Free radicals are the biggest source of skin damage. Sun exposure is the most common form of free radical damage, but pollutants, chemicals, and other environmental allergens also cause free radical damage, which is called oxidation. To prevent oxidation, you need to use skincare products that contain antioxidants. There are numerous antioxidant products on the market, but using a vitamin C serum as part of your morning skincare routine is a simple option.
17 – Using Expired Products
We all know better than to eat food that’s past its expiration date, but we don’t always use the same good judgment when our skincare products expire. According to Dr. Kwon, “Best case scenario, if you use expired products, the ingredients won’t be as strong or deliver their intended results. Worst case scenario, expired products can cause adverse skin reactions that may include inflammation, allergic response, and infection. I know it’s tempting, but just go ahead and throw out those expired products.”
18 – Not Managing Chronic Skin Conditions
If you’ve been diagnosed with eczema, rosacea, psoriasis, acne, or other chronic skin conditions, it’s important to work with a dermatologist to develop an ongoing treatment and maintenance plan to keep your skin healthy. This includes developing a daily skincare routine that includes any maintenance treatments needed for your skin condition as well as planning to address unexpected flare-ups and breakouts as they arise.
19 – Not Maintaining a Consistent Morning & Evening Skincare Routine
According to Dr. Kwon, “Even if your skincare routine is extremely basic, maintaining a consistent morning and evening routine makes a big difference in the health and appearance of your skin. Bare minimum, your morning routine should include a gentle facial cleanser, moisturizer, and sunscreen. Your evening routine should include a gentle cleanser and a stronger moisturizer. This is truly a bare-bones skincare routine, but it’s a good starting point.” Below, Dr. Kwon has provided a dermatologist-recommended five-step morning and evening skincare routine:
1 – Cleanser – morning and evening
2 – Toner – morning and evening
3 – Serums & Treatments – morning and evening but see number three above about which products to apply in the morning and evening
4 – Moisturizer – morning and evening
5 – Sunscreen – morning
20 – Deciding Not to Attend an Annual Skin Exam with Your Dermatologist
Whether you’re at high risk for skin cancer, you need to manage a chronic skin condition, or you just want to keep your skin looking healthy, you need to schedule an annual skin exam with your dermatologist. This is an opportunity to review any changes in your skin and discuss your skincare routine with a professional. They’ll also screen you for skin health concerns, including skin cancer. If you want to schedule an annual skin exam with one of the knowledgeable dermatologists at U.S. Dermatology Partners, we make it quick and easy to get started. Just take a few moments to complete our online scheduling request. Once we receive your scheduling form, a local dermatology team member will be in touch to answer your questions and schedule your visit to our office.
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