5 Skincare Sins You Never Knew Were So Bad
Because eliminating bad skincare habits should always be a top priority.
We know there are many skincare sins you’d never commit in your wildest dreams. Going to bed in full makeup, for example, might be something you did in your drunken teens, but you now know better than that, right? Good, then we don’t need to lecture you about that.
There are also the beauty sins you know are really bad for your skin and you try to strictly adhere to them, but, well, life sometimes gets in the way. You know the ones we mean: wearing sunscreen every day, not picking spots and the like. Well, we have news for you, we’re not here to lecture you about those, either – your awareness and effort to get on board is enough for us. For now, anyway ;)
No, today’s lesson is to pinpoint a few other seemingly innocent beauty habits that can cause no end of problems for your poor old complexion. The ones you probably commit way more regularly than the main culprits, yet don’t even know the damage they’re causing.
Intrigued? Then here are five of the most important, not-so-innocent skincare habits we’d love you to shake off. Starting now.
Skincare Sin #1. Touching Your Face, Like ALL The Time
The skin on your face is super fragile and must be treated with the care and respect it deserves. You know that. We know you know that. But the thing is, looking after your skin isn’t simply about great treatments, awesome products and avoiding the lifestyle and environmental bad guys. Turns out, touching your face is another major no-no.
You may not be aware of this, but living on your skin is an intricate ecosystem of microorganisms called the skin microbiome. This microbiome includes things like bacteria, mites and fungi which may sound gross but they've evolved to keep toxins and invading bacteria at bay, so they play an extremely important role in the health of your skin and the strength of its natural protective barrier.
It makes sense, therefore, that keeping your microbiome balanced by treating your skin gently and avoiding chemical nasties is key. But did you know that the simple act of touching your face with your hands is just as important? No matter how often your wash or sanitize your hands, they carry millions of germs, allergens and bacteria from constant contact with the outside world (think door knobs, cell phones, money etc.). By touching your face or even resting your face on your hands you transfer all of these unwanted pathogens straight to your skin where they upset your microbiome and can trigger breakouts or worsen conditions like eczema and psoriasis.
How To Break The Habit: Not easy, this one, because touching your face is usually a sub-conscious act. The first step is to call yourself out every time you find yourself doing it, or better still, get others to call you out when they catch you at it. Then gross yourself out by thinking about what you’ve touched in the last few hours and how many other hands these same objects might have come into contact with. Baby steps like these will go a very long way.
Skincare Sin #2. Not Cleaning Your Makeup Brushes
Just a quick one while we’re on the subject of bacteria: clean your makeup brushes more regularly and do more laundry. Makeup brushes, pillowcases, face masks and towels are all breeding grounds for bacteria which, when transferred to your skin, spell absolute disaster (see above). Enough said.
How To Break The Habit: If you can afford it, invest in more pillowcases, face masks and towels so you don’t fall short while the others are being cleaned. And when it comes to your makeup brushes? Dermatologists recommend cleaning them at least once a week depending on how often you apply makeup, so set aside some time (Sunday evening works for us) for a quick but thorough cleanse using gentle hand soap and warm water.
Skincare Sin #3. Over-Exfoliating
We’re big fans of gentle exfoliation here at TruSkin, but anything above and beyond ‘gentle’ can lead to seriously bad news for your skin. Those of you with oily skin will know that very little beats the instant gratification of a really full-on face scrub that makes your skin feel squeaky clean, but you’ve got to stop that, because it’s not doing your skin any good.
Oily skin is caused by an over-production of sebum produced by the sebaceous glands in the dermis of your skin. This is mainly down to genetics and hormones, but your lifestyle and skincare choices certainly play their part in how much sebum your skin naturally produces. Exfoliating your skin too harshly and/or too often will make your skin feel drier and compromised, so instead of ridding it of unwanted oil, it actually does the complete opposite and makes it produce even more of the stuff. Exactly NOT what you set out to do.
Over-exfoliation can also damage and remove too much of your stratum corneum (the uppermost layer of your skin) which can lead to inflammation, dryness, irritation and discomfort.
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, it could be time to pare back your exfoliation routine.
How To Break The Habit: Look at your skincare products and assess anything that has exfoliation benefits. If you regularly use a physical scrub as well as products containing chemical exfoliating ingredients such as glycolic acid, salicylic acid and retinol, think about cutting back or temporarily ditching one or more. If your skin gets better after a few weeks, then you’ll know you were exfoliating way too much.
Skincare Sin #4. Using Face Wipes
We don’t mind fessing up to our excitement when facial cleansing wipes entered the beauty world all those years ago. We’d long been using baby wipes for on-the-go cleansing whilst camping, at music festivals or before bed when we couldn’t be bothered to properly wash our faces. So, facial wipes that had been created especially for adult skin which helped remove makeup and promised to care for our delicate complexions at the same time? Best beauty hack ever.
The problem with facial cleansing wipes is that they don’t actually cleanse your skin that well, often just moving grime and makeup around your face. Most are also packed with alcohol, chemicals, fragrance and preservatives which don’t get rinsed off your skin after use. This is far from ideal for any skin type, but can be particularly irritating if your skin errs on the side of sensitive.
How To Break The Habit: If all those chemicals aren’t enough to put you off face wipes for good, think about this: wet wipes are terrible for the environment. The average facial wipe takes around 100 years to decompose, during which time they’re filling up landfills, clogging sewers and devastating the oceans. A way better alternative – if you’re looking for a quick cleanse – is to use a micellar water-based cleanser, instead. Or better still, wash your face with a gentle, effective cleanser like our Vitamin C Daily Facial Cleanser.
Skincare Sin #5. Not Patch Testing Your Products
Rushing in with a new skincare product like a bull in a china shop is something we caution our customers about all the time. Yet patch testing is still not on everybody’s radar. And that’s a big mistake.
The scary fact is, most skincare ingredients do NOT have to undergo testing or approval by the FDA (US Food and Drug Administration). Of course, most reputable manufacturers do their own thorough testing and research before formulating new skincare products and due to the strength and power of our active ingredients we’re one of those. But who knows if the same can be said for every single product you put on your skin?
Another thing: everybody’s skin is different and even your own skin changes over time. This means not all skincare ingredients are tolerated by every skin type. And what might have worked for you in your teens, might not be suitable as you get older.
All in all, active ingredients in skincare can be tricky to perfect in your skincare routine and flare-ups can happen to anyone, at any time. So, next time you invest in a new retinol cream, please do a patch test before applying it all over your face.
How To Break The Habit: Patch tests are easy, you just need a little patience. Simply apply a small amount of any new product to a discreet patch of clean skin such as behind your ears or on the side of your neck, then leave it for at least 24, but preferably 48 hours. If, during this time, something doesn’t feel or look right – think redness, burning, swelling or itching – your skin is clearly not happy with a certain ingredient in that product, so you should rinse it off immediately and discontinue use.
Mild reactions such as slight redness or tingling are OK, but anything worse is a red flag and obviously if these symptoms continue or worsen you should seek immediate advice from a skincare expert.
And there we go: five small skincare sins that should be pretty simple to eliminate. Not so bad, right?
About Georgia Gould
Georgia is an award-winning beauty writer who has been in the business for over 20 years. British-born, she began her career as a magazine beauty editor in London before moving to San Francisco, CA in 2012 where she now continues her love as a freelance writer and editor. As well as her editorial work, Georgia has created content for many high-profile beauty brands, including Clarins, L’Oréal, Procter & Gamble, Simple and TRESemmé. Her passions include retinol (obviously), golfing, skiing and walking her beloved Schnauzer, Dave.