If you thought you were coming to read an article in which I wax poetic about the benefits of drinking water, changing your pillowcase, and cleaning your makeup brushes, think again. If you’re reading this, I have too much admiration for you to say the same things we’ve all heard a million times. You’re a beauty lover, and taking care of your skin is likely something you already do on a regular basis. The last thing you want to read is the same old, amateur lines about spreading bacteria all over your face and yada yada.
But that doesn’t mean you’re doing everything right, and there might be a few habits you’ve come way too accustomed to that are actually hurting your skin and sabotaging your ability to achieve the glistening, clear, and bright skin of your dreams.
1. Using the same hand towel you use all day to dry your face at night
Thanks to COVID, you’re likely washing your hands more than ever before, meaning the hand towel hanging up in your bathroom gets used a lot. Just because you’re wiping your clean hands on it all day doesn’t mean that’s the only way you’re using it, and who’s to say it hasn’t picked up something gross along the way (it is sitting in the bathroom after all). Instead, opt for a microfiber or muslin cloth towel that you used specifically for your face. I also swear by keeping a few reusable cotton pads laying around because I can use those to lightly dry my face as well.
However, don’t underestimate the power of applying the rest of your skincare routine to damp skin. Many products, especially hyaluronic acid, cling to water and are significantly more effective when applied to damp skin.
2. Using a loofah
After a long discussion with our team and a few friends recently, many of us are still washing our bodies with loofahs. Not to be harsh, but that’s disgusting, y’all. You don’t need to exfoliate your body every single time you shower, and if you want to exfoliate, you’re better off using a scrub because you don’t have to worry about replacing it constantly like you would an exfoliating glove or loofah. If you’re craving the exfoliation, use a washcloth that you can wash often (I always recommend white because you can bleach them!) and keep clean. But truly, your hands suffice to keep you as clean as you need to be.
3. Not making sure your ingredients work together
Researching the ingredients of the skincare products you put on your face is a lot more necessary than you think. When influencers and companies and even your friends are constantly sharing the products they swear by, it’s easy to think, “Wow, I will just buy it all, and then I’ll have amazing skin!” But that’s not necessarily the case. For one, having a stockpile of 1 million products in your arsenal can make it extremely different to develop a solid routine, but it also means you have to apply them in a specific order. Certain acids and skincare ingredients play really well together (for example, vitamin C and ferulic acid or vitamin C and sunscreen), but others you should avoid because they can either decrease the efficacy of a product or cause major irritation (like retinol and AHAs).
4. Exfoliating too much
Retinol, AHA, BHA, bakuchiol–the skincare industry has inundated us with options to exfoliate dead skin cells and reveal brighter, healthier skin. But skincare enthusiasts want to try it all, which can often lead to exfoliating the skin, leaving it dehydrated and irritated. Our faces don’t need exfoliated that much–1-2 times a week should be plenty enough. Smaller percentages that are meant for daily use are OK, but any product that has “exfoliator,” “peel,” or “resurfacing” shouldn’t be used any more than that 1-2 times a week mark. Make sure you spread the days out too–I recently adopted the model of “Self-Care Sunday” and “Wine Wednesday” thanks to a skincare consultation, and I always know those are the nights I use peels and heavy acids.
You should also keep this in mind if you use a retinol or tretinoin product. You should never use retinol the same night as a peel or another acid, and if you notice dryness, you should skip one night between each. Retinol is one of the most exfoliating, retexturizing products on the market, meaning it’s pretty easy to over-exfoliate with it.
5. Not washing your duvet or comforter enough
Look, I know I said I wouldn’t tell you about your pillowcase, but this is truly one that everyone needs a reminder about. Many of us sleep with our comforter pulled up close to our faces and that can easily get as gross as your pillowcase. Again, I love white (even more than just for the aesthetic) because it’s easy to bleach and clean.
6. Putting heavy coverage all over your entire face instead of just where you need it
Your makeup application could have a major impact on the clarity of your skin. Now, don’t get me wrong, a full-coverage look is going to happen sometimes; that’s just the life of a makeup lover. But on a normal day-to-day basis, you can focus on covering the areas you’d like with that heavy coverage, and either thinning it out (mix it with a moisturizer or apply it lightly with a sponge) or skipping it at all in the areas that don’t need it. No one’s skin is entirely covered in spots or imperfections; there’s no reason your entire face needs to be constantly covered by thick coverage.
7. Using a drying concealer to cover acne
What looks better to you: a really dry, crusty zit you can see a mile away because the concealer on top is so thick it’s the size of a second pimple, or a lighter coverage that hydrates the skin without maybe covering every single speck of the zit? I’m always choosing the latter, and your skin likes it too. As the mid-2000s mom classically said, “We have to dry the pimples out!” is simply not true. Yes, it helps the pimple reduce in size and disappear, but that isn’t the same when it comes to makeup. Keeping that skin hydrated might help your acne heal faster and can reduce the scarring that might occur. Plus, it simply looks so much better. Letting your real texture–acne and all–show versus covering your face in massive amounts of foundation is a major 2021 vibe.
8. Not washing your tanning mitt
If you self-tan, you need to wash your tanning mitt. Just like the whole monologue about using a loofah or the same washcloth all day long, your tanning mitt can easily get gunked up with dead skin, leftover tanner, and so much more gross stuff. I swear by using an old black sock to self-tan over a mitt because, yet again, it’s so easy to clean, but if you love a mitt, hand wash it with warm water and a little bit of gentle soap.
9. Popping pimples with your fingers
I’m not a preacher, so I won’t sit here and act like I never pop pimples. Heck, I’m Dr. Pimple Popper’s biggest fan. But there are some dos and don’ts to effectively popping a zit, and my #1 tip is to never use your fingers, especially your fingernails. The countless times I’ve made cuts from my fingernails or spread bacteria and made the spot even angrier and redder than before made me finally stop and switch to only popping zits with a tool or the gentlest trick: using two cotton swabs.
Also, don’t absolutely murder the zit. If a little comes out but not everything (what a lovely image I’ve put into all of our heads!), apply a drying lotion and move on until it’s ready again. You’ll minimize scarring, irritation, and overall stress levels.