Skin care routines are essential to ensure that our skin stays clear, healthy and hydrated. There are however mistakes you may be making in your routine that could potentially be damaging your skin and causing premature aging. Read out to find out how your skin care routine could be damaging your skin, and how to avoid these mistakes.
1. Cleansing Too Frequently
Cleansing is a critical process which helps rid your skin of unwanted dirt and oils, revealing a clean, brighter complexion. Cleansing twice a day ensures that dirt, pollutants and oils don’t clog your pores and cause breakouts.
Over-cleansing however can be detrimental to overall skin health. Over-cleansing is the process of cleansing too frequently, or using facial cleansers which contain harsh soaps that alter the pH of the skin and cause dryness. You might feel the need to cleanse more than twice a day, or to use cleansers with soaps because it gives you a squeaky clean finish but this is often doing more harm than good.
Your skin secretes a waxy substance known as sebum through the sebaceous glands which are found in your pores. The function of this substance is to keep the skin hydrated and protected. By over-cleansing, you can damage the skin’s lipid barrier as these essential oils are washed away. Skin dryness is often a result of excessive cleansing, and it’s this dryness that is associated with premature aging.
Over-cleansing can also make matters worse if you’re doing it to combat oiliness or acne breakouts. It might in the moment seem helpful to cleanse to get rid of oils, but if anything this could be making your skin even worse. By constantly stripping the skin of it’s natural secretions, the sebaceous glands begin to overproduce sebum to combat the newfound dryness. By doing so, you leave your skin more prone to oiliness and breaking out.
So what should you do?
Cleanse twice a day, in the AM and PM. Use a gentle cleanser that is non-comedogenic (meaning it won’t block your pores) and won’t overly dry the skin. We recommend Cetaphil’s Gentle Skin Cleaner for this purpose.
If during the day your skin begins to feel a little greasy, use a simple oil blotting sheet to absorb the oil. Even facial tissues work fine, simply blot the affected areas with the tip of your finger.
Exfoliating too frequently comes with the same risks as over-cleansing. Physical exfoliation is a fairly harsh process which utilises micro-abrasives to slough off the outermost layer of dead skin cells, revealing brighter, fresher skin underneath.
Exfoliating is a necessary procedure as it helps promote cellular turnover and allows for a deep clean to rid your skin of any debris that can cause breakouts or blackheads. Exfoliating 1-2 times a week is perfectly safe and promotes good skin health.
Exfoliating more than this or using harsh exfoliants can damage your skin causing dryness, peeling, redness and inflammation. By exfoliating too frequently, you’re stripping the skin of the natural oils it needs to function properly. This can even lead to over-production of oils, and breakouts. As physical exfoliation is an abrasive process, doing it too frequently might mean you’re not giving your skin enough time to heal. This can lead to tightness, dryness, flaking and inflammation.
Chemical exfoliation is a far safer process which can be used more often than physical exfoliants. Chemical exfoliants use AHAs and BHAs (active acids) to work deep into the pores and promote cell turnover. Contrary to popular belief however, you can also overdo it with chemical exfoliants.
What should you do instead?
You should limit physical exfoliation (facial scrubs etc.) to 1-2 times a week. Be gentle when using these scrubs and make sure you follow them up with a good moisturiser to replenish any lost moisture and prevent skin dryness. If you have sensitive skin, consider purchasing a gentle scrub as generic products can cause irritation.
Chemical exfoliants should always be patch tested prior to use; this is to ensure there are no adverse reactions when applied. Topical application of such chemicals should also be limited to an as-and-when you need them basis. As an example, if your skin is already clear and healthy then there is no need to apply AHA serums every day, instead, use these serums a few times a week. Make sure you read our article on the skincare serums you should be using and what they do.
3. Skipping out on SPF
A lot of us are guilty when it comes to not using SPF. Whether this be because you want a summer glow, or just out of sheer laziness. We spend so much time cleansing, applying serums, and moisturising but all this work is likely being undone if you do not use sunscreen on a regular basis.
UV rays (UVA, UVB) are damaging to the skin. These rays penetrate the epidermis and damage the skin cells, as well as the DNA. This damage can not only lead to skin cancer, but is also the primary contributor to premature aging. Sun damage will lead to dark spots, wrinkles, redness and peeling of the skin. So, if you want to keep your youthful appearance, best to apply some SPF.
What you should be doing
Use at least SPF 30 when stepping out into direct sunlight. You can still get a tan with SPF 30, but this way you’ll be ensuring skin damage is minimised. Make sure you apply it to all the areas that will be in contact with the sun, common areas that are missed include the sides and back of the neck, upper chest and the midriff. In addition to protection from sunlight, SPF also protects the skin against pollutants.
4. Using Ingredients That Don’t Mix
While it can be beneficial to combine different serums and ingredients, this is not always the case. There are certain ingredients that don’t mix well, below are just a couple:
Retinol + AHAs/BHAs/Vitamin C
Retinol has excellent anti-aging and cell regenerating properties, along with mild exfoliating properties. Combining this with stronger exfoliants such as AHAs/BHAs will lead to an increased risk of irritation. In addition to this effect, acids typically function at a low pH and combining this with a retinol solution may increase the pH of the acid serum, this will decrease it’s effectiveness.
Vitamin C + AHAs/BHAs
Vitamin C is already an excellent exfoliating agent working to promote cell turnover and brighten your complexion. Pairing this with other exfoliants can be a little excessive, and can lead to irritation, skin peeling and inflammation. Best to keep these two ingredients away from each other.
So, Which products should YOU use together?
There are many products you shouldn’t mix, but there are also many that work in harmony to deliver great results. Below are just a couple:
Hyaluronic Acid + Retinol (Hyaluronic Acid + most things, really)
Hyaluronic acid is a miracle hydrator than can hold 1000x it’s weight in water. It’s also a humectant meaning it draws water from surrounding areas to provide hydration where it’s needed. These excellent hydration properties can also slow down and reverse aging.
Using Hyaluronic Acid with retinol can help combat the dryness associated with retinol use, and it can also help soothe the skin.
Using Hyaluronic Acid with AHAs/BHAs can help to reduce dryness and minimise irritation. It’s imperative that you moisturise when using exfoliating acids as to not damage the skin.
AHAs/BHAs/Vitamin C + SPF
Exfoliating acids can increase sensitivity to the sunlight. It’s recommended that you don’t come into contact with direct sunlight when using these acids, as it can damage the skin or diminish the effectiveness of the treatments. If however you have to come into contact with sunlight, best to apply an even coverage of SPF at the end of your skin care regime.
To Sum It Up
Cleansing, exfoliating and active treatments can work wonders for your skin when used correctly. Overdo it however and you’ll find the opposite happens, you can damage your skin and even cause premature aging. We hope these tips have given you an insight into how to prevent these mistakes from happening, to keep your skin youthful and beautiful.