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7 Common Skin Care Mistakes You Want to Avoid

Bottles of pink cleanser; a hand holding up a jar of moisturizer; an open jar of green cleansing balm

So you’ve built a skin care routine and have been sticking to it, but you’re still not getting results? You might be making one of these super common mistakes.

When it comes to skin care, there’s so much advice out there, it can be hard to filter out the noise. Finding what works best for you often involves a lot of trial and error, but there are a few mistakes almost everyone makes at some point. We’re breaking down the most common skin care errors and giving you some simple tips on how to avoid them.

Mistake No. 1: Washing Too Often

Bottles of pink cleanser with bubbles; a blue and white tube of cleanser on blue background
Herbivore/First Aid Beauty

Washing your skin too much does strip the oils from your face, which is why people who are acne-prone or oily might think it’s a good idea. In reality, though, you’re also stripping all of the good moisture, irritating the skin with soap ingredients, and pushing your skin to produce more oil to replace it.

Instead, use a gentle cleanser twice a day. Use clean hands to wash with and a clean towel to gently dry with, then build the rest of your skin care routine on top of it. This should help to strike the right balance between keeping your skin clean and keeping it nourished.

The lightweight First Aid Beauty Pure Skin Face Cleanser uses aloe and glycerin to calm and soothe the skin while lifting away dirt, dust, oils, and other residues on your face. With a light, creamy, whipped texture, it feels great on the skin without drying it out.

For a more gel-like consistency but an equally clean and gentle formula, try the Herbivore Pink Cloud Rosewater + Tremella Jelly Cleanser. This low-foaming cleanser avoids ingredients and formulations that strip the skin, instead using a pH-balanced formula with soothing rosewater to leave the skin hydrated and truly clean.

Mistake No. 2: Layering Too Many Active Ingredients

It’s not a case of “more is more” here. In fact, layering too many actives on your face at once can cause irritation if the ingredients don’t meld well. Or, they can cancel each other out and deactivate, leaving you with a lot of layers and no real effect.

Learn what does and doesn’t mix and build a routine with a few key, targeted products.

Mistake No. 3: Not Moisturizing During a Breakout

Two containers of moisturizer

Like with the washing example above, it’s tempting to try to deprive your face of moisture when you’re feeling oily or broken out. Choose a lightweight, non-oily moisturizer and keep up the routine instead. It helps protect the skin, keep the moisture barrier intact, and nourish while you’re addressing the blemishes.

The Farmacy Honey Drop Lightweight Moisturizer features a honey blend in the formula for antioxidants and nourishment—honey has natural antibacterial properties that also support clearer skin. A triple hyaluronic acid complex helps the skin retain moisture, and cupuaçu butter beads that support softer skin and maintain a healthy moisture barrier.

If you prefer a gel formula, the Biossance Squalane + Probiotic Gel Moisturizer is a lightweight daytime formula. Its probiotic complex clarifies and balances the skin, while ginger and red seaweed calm irritation and hydrating squalane gives a non-oily dose of serious moisture.

Mistake No. 4: Not Giving Products Enough Time to Work

Many products can take between two to six weeks to start showing their “full” effect on your skin.

If you’re introducing a new product, especially an active ingredient, like a serum, you need to give it time to work and time for your skin to adjust before you write it off as ineffective. Take your time, let your skin adjust, and then see if you need to make changes to your routine.

Mistake No. 5: Not Properly Removing Makeup

Clear bottles of green face cleanser; an open jar of green cleansing balm
Youth to the People/Farmacy

If you don’t remove your makeup before you cleanse, you’re not fully cleansing your face. The makeup residue gets in the way of the cleanser and other ingredients actually reaching your face, leaving you with clogged pores and oily residue. Likewise, a swipe with a makeup wipe isn’t really a full cleanse either.

You need both steps: product removal and cleansing. Start with an oil-based cleanser, like the Farmacy Green Clean Makeup Removing Cleansing Balm. Made from sustainable, natural ingredients like sunflower, ginger root, turmeric, moringa, and papaya, it melts away makeup and other products that form a film on your face.

After that, use a gentle cleanser to wash away any oily residue and actually clean the skin itself. A light formula full of botanical ingredients is a great way to go, like the Youth to the People Superfood Antioxidant Cleanser. Packed with green superfoods like spinach, kale, and green tea, it lifts away the day’s dirt without stripping or drying the face.

Mistake No. 6: Over-Exfoliating

We’ve moved on from those terrible St. Ives Apricot Scrub days! Scrubbing your face opens up microtears that are just waiting for pollutants, dirt, and other things you don’t want getting into your face. Over-exfoliating with acids is a problem, too, because you’re irritating your face unnecessarily and getting in the way of actual healing.

Instead, exfoliate on a regular but spaced-out schedule, adjusting for how strong the exfoliating product is. A strong retinol or AHA/BHA concentration probably only needs to be used once a week, while you might use a low-concentration AHA serum once a day or every other day.

Mistake No. 7: Skipping the Sunscreen

This one is a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many people skip out on sunscreen after finishing the rest of their routine! It truly is one of the most important steps in any skin care regimen. You can layer on all the products you want, but if you’re not preventing skin damage, there’s only so much the rest can do.

Use sunscreen, or at the very least, use other skin products (like tinted sunscreen or SPF-imbued foundations) that have significant SPF. This goes double if you’re using products that make your skin photosensitive, like BHA!

When it comes to skin care, it really is best to build up your routine slowly to avoid making these mistakes. Once you’re comfortable with certain ingredients, though, it’s fun to sample new products with a beauty subscription box. Just remember to always take your time and test new formulas slowly.

Amanda Prahl Amanda Prahl
Amanda Prahl is a freelance contributor to LifeSavvy. She has an MFA in dramatic writing, a BA in literature, and is a former faculty associate focusing on writing craft and history. Her articles have appeared on HowlRound, Slate, Bustle, BroadwayWorld, and ThoughtCo, among others. Read Full Bio »
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