We spend countless hours and dollars trying to make our skin as glowy and flawless as we imagine it to be in our dreams, and yet we can still undo all our hard work just by making some really common, overlooked mistakes.
It takes time to learn the ins and outs of proper skincare, and its not for the faint of heart. As a result, most people make mistakes at some point in their skincare journey that make acne worse. A few common mistakes can be especially damaging to your skin, so if you’re reading this and partaking in any of these bad habits – consider this your sign to stop! If it makes you feel any better, I made every single one of these mistakes in the past and learned the hard way, so you don’t have to.
1- over exfoliation
remove dead skin that might otherwise bundle up with sebum and bacteria leading to congested skin, clogged pores, and acne.
When some people find this out, they begin over exfoliating their skin with abrasive physical exfoliants, or too frequent use of chemical exfoliants. This can end up being super damaging to your skin, even affecting your skin’s ability to heal and protect itself. When your skin’s barrier is damaged, you’re more susceptible to frequent and severe skin reactions that can make acne worse. Especially when we have acne, we need to be cautious of exfoliative products; avoid physical exfoliants and instead opt for infrequent but regular use of chemical exfoliants like AHAs.
2- sleeping in makeup
I’m still bad for this from time to time, but nothing like in my younger years. I could get away with the same makeup for at least two days, even though the very thought makes me cringe as I think about it.
Leaving makeup on your skin when you sleep just gives everything sitting on your face – makeup, dead skin, sebum, sweat, and anything else your skin accumulated throughout the day – the opportunity to thrive, creating clogged pores, inflammation, and free radical damage that can make acne worse. Washing your face before bed should be a must for everyone, especially if you’re wearing makeup. At the very, very least, keep some cleansing wipes by your bedside for nights you’re just too tired to be bothered.
*BONUS: Another part of your nightly routine should also be changing out your pillowcase. I know it may seem trivial, but many people notice big improvements in their skin when they adopt this practice. If you think about it, your pillow case collects everything from your sweat, dead skin cells and sebum, to skincare and haircare products while you sleep. When you sleep on it the next night, your skin is in constant contact with all the crud from days passed. I switch my pillow cases out every 1-2 nights, and notice it makes a big difference in my skin and acne.
3- not using sunscreen
One of the most common false beliefs about acne is that sunscreen will make acne worse. While it may take a little bit of searching to find the right sunscreen formula to complement your , don’t just skip out on the SPF.
While some daily sun exposure can help improve the symptoms of acne, overexposure causes inflammation and skin damage. This can result in more breakouts over the weeks that the skin tries to repair that damage.
Aside from that, sun exposure can also cause long-term skin discoloration, particularly for post-acne marks as the UV rays cause melanin to build up in overexposed areas.
Rather than risk making our acne and scarring worse, we should make the effort to protect our skin from the sun even when it’s overcast.
4- treating several skin issues at a time
Don’t get me wrong, a good skincare routine can and should be able to tackle all your skin’s issues, but it will take some time to find what works. Using different products for different skin issues may seem like a good idea at first, but the products you’re using may have interactions you aren’t aware of that can cause adverse reactions and damage your skin!
When working with several co-occurring skin issues, it’s best to look for products that are good for all skin conditions, but this may not always be possible. Instead, prioritize your skin concerns and treat them accordingly. Once you know what works for one thing, you can move on to the next!
5- not moisturizing
I don’t know who gave you the crazy idea that depriving your skin of moisture is a good idea, but honey they were wrong. Even oily skin can benefit from daily moisturizing, with the right products.
Moisturizer provides an opportunity to not only replenish lost fatty acids that keep our skin nourished, but also to add in things that may offer other benefits, such as green tea, which is great for acne.
No matter your skin type, moisturizer is an important step in your skincare routine that shouldn’t be overlooked, as even oily skin can be dehydrated and damaged. Healthy skin is well-moisturized skin, and dehydrated skin can make acne worse!
6- too many products
When people come to me with acne problems, one of the first things I ask is what they’re currently using. While it gives me an idea of what they’re looking for, it also tells me a lot about how well they understand their skin and its needs.
Many people with acne use upwards of ten products at a time on their skin, some products even contradicting the effects of others! The problem with this is, as mentioned earlier, there may be contraindications between products, and the layering of products may render others ineffective or useless. Plus, the more products you add into a routine, the more likely you are to encounter reactions that result in clogged pores and breakouts.
Sometimes the best approach is just to simplify to the most minimal skincare routine you can muster and still achieve your skin goals.
7- over cleansing
With oily, acne-prone skin especially, it’s easy to get sucked into the belief that acneic skin is “dirty” or needs to be washed. At some points, I was cleansing several times a day because my skin just didn’t “feel clean enough”.
You might be asking how keeping skin too clean could possibly make acne worse - while it’s important to keep your skin clean if you want to keep it healthy, there is such a thing as too clean, and over cleansing can have disastrous repercussions for your skin and acne. Namely, it strips the skin of essential lipids that keep our skin hydrated, and it leads to irritation and inflammation.
Most people should follow the 2-a-day rule of cleansing (normal or oily skin), once in the morning and once before bed, although some people get away with cleansing only in the evenings (dry or sensitive skin).
8- using harsh products
You might be wondering why a product would be on the market, and why people would use it, if it’s harsh on the skin? Well, because harshness can provide results! Drying up the skin may eliminate the bacteria’s food source, which can result in an improvement in acne – but this doesn’t mean it’s the optimal treatment method.
While many effective and safe acne treatments are technically harsh on the skin, the important point is that these harsh products be used in the right concentrations – i.e. the lowest concentration possible. Some people want to believe that if a 5% concentration works well, then a 10% concentration must work better, but we should only make these increases after the proper duration of treatment, and only if desired results haven’t been achieved.
It’s easy to use harsh products incorrectly, so be careful to follow instructions to minimize the damage being done to your skin. Avoid harsh exfoliants, or things with alcohol that leave the skin feeling tight, dry, or causes burning.
You’d be surprised how common these mistakes are, and despite how common they are, there’s still not a lot of awareness about how these mistakes can make acne worse. Thankfully, now that you know about them, you can avoid these common mistakes, and not have to worry!
Have you found anything you tried to make acne worse? Let us know!