- Habit: Adhering to the same skincare routine. Having a daily routine of cleansing and moisturizing your face is vital for maintaining healthy skin. Skimp on that routine and you can end up with clogged pores, breakouts and thirsty skin. So no wonder you keep a tight ship when it comes to your skin.
How it can go bad: While consistency is key with any regimen, it can also lead to lackluster, dry skin. Like your body gets bored with the same exercise — putting a lid on progress, slowing muscle building or weight loss — your skin, too, gets used to the same products, so there’s little to no improvement.
What you can do: Pay attention to your skin. For starters, you may need a higher concentration of ingredients. If a topical treatment with 2.5 percent benzoyl peroxide isn’t doing much for your acne any longer, look for a formula with 5 percent. If your skin continues to look dull after using a cleanser with 15 percent glycolic acid, go up to 20 percent. You also might need to adjust your routine according to the season. Cooler months — with their chilly temperatures and strong winds — call for more hydrating products, even if your skin is an oil slick in the summer. See what other changes you can make for fall here. To target roughness and dryness, try a serum with retinol to accelerate exfoliation and thin dead skin along with a multi-action day cream with salicylic acid to smooth roughness, according to Ladies Home Journal. If you’d like to use these formulas, which contain many active ingredients, pick up a mild cleanser. The magazine suggests using Aveeno Positively Radiant Cleanser.
- Habit: Being too gentle. Is your face extra sensitive or mostly dry? You may be afraid to irritate your skin, so you opt for mild products and skip the exfoliation step.
How it can go bad: Never exfoliating your skin (or exfoliating too little) can result in a buildup of dead skin cells, which leads to clogged pores, acne and a dull-looking complexion. This buildup doesn’t help with your products either. Products stay on skin's surface, unable to penetrate the skin. This prevents you from experiencing their full benefits. The same goes for mild products, which may not be potent enough to effectively treat skin concerns.
What you can do: If you have dry or sensitive skin, exfoliate once a week. For oilier complexions, exfoliate three times a week. Still concerned about irritation? Like we mentioned above, try mixing milder products with more potent formulas. Or look for soothing ingredients, like lavender and chamomile, in your treatments. When nothing seems to work — your skin doesn’t look any better and irritation is a continuous concern, which may be a symptom of skin conditions like eczema — consult a dermatologist, who can help you create a custom routine that’ll be both effective and gentle on your skin.
- Habit: Relying exclusively on organic products. Using organic ingredients on your skin has its advantages. If the product is labeled “organic,” it contains 95 percent organic ingredients, meaning that it must “follow the same rules that foods do,” writes dermatologist Leslie Baumann, M.D., on her Yahoo! Health blog, The Skin Guru. She adds, “These rules require manufacturers to avoid using prohibited pesticides and fertilizers, and employ positive soil building, conservation, manure management, and crop rotation practices.” Organic skincare also strives to avoid ingredients that may be potentially harmful to people, animals and the environment, writes Dr. Baumann.
How it can go bad: It’s common for consumers to assume that organic formulas are inherently gentler on the skin. But that’s a big misconception. Some organic skincare contains fruit that can irritate the skin and trigger allergic reactions, writes Julyne Derrick, About’s beauty expert. Natural essential oils like rosemary, bergamot and peppermint can be irritating to sensitive complexions, Dr. Baumann tells WebMD. She also says that coconut oil may cause acne.
Sticking solely to organic products also leads you to miss out on top-notch traditional ingredients that can truly improve your skin (think over-the-counter retinol and retinoids, which offer a bounty of beauty benefits).
What you can do: Instead of focusing on organic or non-organic, skip the fancy claims and go straight to the label for the details. Not sure how to read a label? See our five rules here. Consider incorporating a variety of organic and conventional products for a comprehensive, effective routine.
- Habit: Applying sunscreen — but not enough. Sunscreen is a vital part of your everyday routine. It shields skin from UV damage, protecting from premature aging, sunburn and skin cancer.
How it can go bad: Sunscreen can give you a false sense of security. You may think you’re fully protected from the sun when your skin is actually vulnerable. The number one issue with sunscreen is not applying it correctly. Secondly, many people don’t realize that sunscreen isn’t enough to protect from UV rays, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. Does that mean you should toss it altogether? No way!
What you can do: Reevaluate your use. Are you applying enough — at least a shot-glass-worth — and often — every two hours, or sooner after sweating or swimming? Getting the right SPF? For daily use, wear sunscreen with SPF 15, at a minimum. If you plan on being outdoors for 20-30 minutes, wear at least SPF 30, reports MedicineNet. In addition to applying sunscreen, the Skin Cancer Foundation suggests these sun-savvy tips:
- Avoid outdoor and indoor tanning.
- Opt for the shade between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
- Examine your skin once a month from head-to-toe.
- See your dermatologist for an annual skin screening.
- Wear a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses that block UV rays.
- Habit: Using too much product. We tend to think that more product equals greater efficacy. If a dime-sized amount of moisturizer is good, then a dollop must be better. If exfoliating once a week helps to slough off dead skin cells, then using a scrub three times is best.
How it can go bad: Applying too much moisturizer to your face doesn’t saturate your skin in moisture. Quite the opposite, it can create a thick film that stays on your skin and clogs pores. Too much of an acne treatment can irritate and dry out the skin, making it churn out more oil. Using more than a dime-sized amount of any scrub (no matter how gentle) can abrade the skin and create a dull and rough complexion.
What you can do: So if using too little and using too much product are no-nos, then what’s a gal to do? Your best bet is to follow the product’s instructions or ask a dermatologist. A good rule of thumb with any product is to use a pea-sized amount. For moisturizer to absorb better, apply it to damp skin (within three minutes of washing your skin).
- Habit: Not wasting products. We’ve been taught to eat everything off our plates as long as we can remember and never ever to waste anything. So naturally, you refuse to squander a beauty product, especially if it’s a pricey one.
How it can go bad: Using products past their prime can irritate your skin and even give you an infection. Cosmetics, such as mascara, become a breeding ground for bacteria. Once finger touches product that bacteria transfers to your skin.
What you can do: Learn when products expire, and pitch them when they’re past due. As sad as it is to part with a good (and pricey) product, it’s sadder when your skin is unhealthy, looks irritated and blemish-stricken or suffers an allergic reaction. Another option is to take simple steps to extend your products’ shelf life, such as:
Remember that your skin changes throughout the seasons and throughout the years. Also, keep in mind that just because a product works for your best friend doesn’t mean it’ll work for you (even if her skin type is similar). The key to great skin is letting it do all the talking, while you listen carefully. Let your skin tell you when it’s time to switch products, exfoliate more or less and see a dermatologist.