7 Skincare Mistakes You Don't Know You're Making

They say that your eyes are the windows to your soul. But what about your skin?

Skincare is an increasingly popular segment of the beauty industry, and it seems that everywhere you look there are advertisements for products and practices that will help you get the "perfect" skin. But finding the perfect routine that works for you is a big challenge, especially when many everyday skincare products and typical habits that promote positive results are actually doing the opposite. “It’s extremely important to understand the truth behind what you’re using,” says Lorraine Willwerth, certified aesthetician and owner of Glow Skin Salon in Reading, Massachusetts, “it’s important to be gentle and treat it your skin right.”

We’ve laid out the most common skincare mistakes that are truly more harmful than they seem and will have you rethinking the way you take care of your skin.

1. Not wearing sunscreen every day

Even if you don’t think you’re damaging your skin by not wearing sunscreen, you are. Hyperpigmentation and potentially cancerous cells are just two ways that UV rays can damage your skin, and these can develop more quickly than you think. Plus, if you're on birth control, there’s another risk is the potential for developing melasma, or brown patches on your skin.

Mary McCallum, registered nurse and owner of LeDerm Laser and Medical Aesthetics in Lexington, MA, says it’s usually seen a blotchy, brownish facial pigmentation, usually like a shadowy moustache above the upper lip, but can occur all over the face. “Since there’s no way to get rid of it, you have to prevent it,” says McCallum. Try using the Image Skincare PREVENTION+ Daily Hydrating Moisturizer ($39, Image Skincare).

“I have extra sensitive skin so I try to wear at least face sunscreen everyday. My grandmother always warned me about getting skin cancer growing up and it’s advice I’m thankful for!” says Sierra Clair, a student at LMU.

Related: 7 Skincare Habits All College Girls Need to Have

2. Not washing off your makeup every night

After spending an entire day attracting bacteria, touching your face, and allowing your makeup to clog your pores, it’s important to clean your face every night.

Even using makeup wipes isn’t enough to fully cleanse your skin. McCallum recommends using a hydrating or exfoliating cleanser every night as well. The Image Skincare VITAL C Hydrating Facial Cleanser is a great option ($29, Image Skincare). 

3. Forgetting to clean your makeup brushes

If you don’t wash your brushes, you’re just adding germs, germs, and more germs back onto your skin. Bacteria and traces of old makeup, which are left behind on your brushes, can easily clog up your pores and lead to breakouts.
All it takes is a quick wash with mild soap and water or a brush shampoo, like Sephora’s Purifying Brush Shampoo ($7, Sephora), to disinfect your brushes and keep them clean and long-lasting.

4. Using the wrong products for your skin

“Using products that work for someone else is not the best option for you,” says McCallum. You should customize your skincare routine for your personal needs, not what you see advertised online and in magazines or what other people say works for them. If you have problem skin, don’t be afraid to seek help from a professional. It’s not worth it to make mistakes and cause more damage trying to combat it on your own.

Don’t be afraid to splurge on more expensive products; the quality of the ingredients will have you seeing better results more quickly, and prevent you from spending more money trying out lesser-quality products that may damage your skin. One of the best investments you can make is in quality nighttime skin products; overnight is the best seven hours of built-in beauty treatment that you can get.

5. Using products that are too harsh

Most products advertised to clear up acne are more harsh than anyone with normal hormonal skin needs. These products can strip your skin in often irreversible ways––damaging its natural pH balance and ratio of oil––and actually cause your skin to break out even more.

Most breakouts are actually caused by oil and dryness, says Willwerth, which can be easily combated by drinking more water and moisturizing every day instead of using harmful products. Additionally, using water-enhancing products like hyaluronic acid will allow your skin to absorb more water, thus hydrating the skin more effectively and diluting the acne causing oils to prevent breakouts.

6. Picking at your skin

It’s common to pick at your acne, hoping that whatever you do will make it go away. But doing that can actually cause breakouts to become much, much worse. Most of the time, the skin does extremely well healing infections on its own, and if you just leave breakouts alone more often than not they’ll go away without ever coming to a head.

7. Not drinking enough water

The biggest problem for women in college is that we don’t drink enough water, and instead drink too much caffeine. Pair that with too little sleep and too much stress, and you have a skincare nightmare.

It’s common for skin to break out under these conditions, and the best way to combat it is to drink more water, and eat foods high in antioxidants and vitamin A (like fruits and veggies) that will keep your skin healthy.

Avoiding all of these common mistakes are taking your skincare regime seriously is the key to glowing, healthy skin. The importance of being careful about how you treat your skin cannot be overlooked.

“Basic skincare is easy. [Washing] your face, moisturizing daily, using essential oils...eating right, and drinking lots of water - it all goes along with self care. Do what makes you feel good and that'll be reflected in your appearance!” says Autumn Dube, Emmanuel College 2017 graduate.

There ya have it, collegiettes! Glowing skin is only a few steps away.