There was probably a time when your skincare routine was allowed to consist of scrubbing your face with bar soap and a warm washcloth, then calling it a night. But as your skin ages and you become more strategic about longevity, new words like “acids” and “retinoids” come out to play — and suddenly you’ve got a vanity full of pots, bottles, and goo galore.
It works out though, because our culture is kind of obsessed with skincare and wellness right now, and new products are being innovated every day. You can’t scroll through Instagram without seeing an ad for some futuristic-looking peel or wonder mask. It’s easy to throw your money at products and treatments in an effort to keep your face glow-y — but too many products can do the opposite of what you want, leaving you with breakouts, flaking and super stressed skin. With an influx of advice and tips from all directions, chances are, you’re making a mistake in your beauty regimen that might be hurting you.
Your skin is your body’s largest organ (yucky, but factual). It deserves special care — and beyond just keeping it ageless, you also want to keep your skin healthy. I wanted to clear up some confusion about what you should actually be doing in your daily regimen, so, I turned to a few of my favorite derms for all their expertise. Below are a few things dermatologists want you to get smart about ASAP.
Choose ingredients carefully
Skincare tends to involve a lot of mixing and matching. Rather than learn the hard way that certain formulas shouldn’t be combined, your derm wants you to pay attention to ingredient lists before you start slathering products all over your face.
“In terms of choosing over the counter products, people need to be aware of the formulation, concentration, and type of ingredients.” says Dr. Martha Viera, a Florida-based dermatologist. “Some of the products are better combined with other ingredients. For example, sunscreen sometimes can not be combined with antioxidants like vitamin C since it can get unstable and ultimately does not work.” If you’ve been having skin struggles lately — like breakouts, greasiness, and irritation — hybrid formulas might be the culprit.
I know, I know. It feels good to aggressively scrub with St. Ives because it leaves you sooo smooth and clean. But harsh formulas and cleanser scrubs like that contain crushed walnut shells, and those are bad! They tear your skin, and they can actually cause faster aging. Dr. Viera says people should cut back on exfoliating in general to maintain skin health.
“People believe exfoliating too often is good, and it’s actually the contrary. Exfoliating more than once or twice a week is totally unnecessary, and can even be harmful.” The reason is that over-exfoliation creates inflammation, sensitivity, breakouts, and angry skin. “I recommend exfoliating no more than two times a week to avoid getting rid of natural skin lipids and fatty acids,” Dr. Viera says.
As an alternative, you can also opt for chemical exfoliators containing AHA or BHA.
See a dermatologist when needed
There are a few no-brainers that everyone knows when it comes to skincare: wash your face, wear sunscreen, avoid microbeads, etc. But what about some of the niche, medical skin advice that the back of a product label can’t tell you? Dr. Viera says not to rely too much on over-the-counter products instead of medical grade skincare.
“There are over-the-counter dermatologist-approved products, but some are overpriced that do not have the technology level of the medical grade skincare products — that’s why it is always better to have a dermatologist advising at the time you choose your skincare regimen.”
Sun damage is Not Good™ and, as it turns out, neither is crisping in a tanning bed. “The best way to prematurely age your skin resulting with wrinkles and sunspots is through tanning.” says Dr. Katina Miles, a Maryland-based dermatologist.
“Tanning salons increase the risk of developing a skin cancer by 75%.” The reason tanning salons are very dangerous is because the UVA light that is emitted is more damaging than UVB rays, as this light reaches deeper layers of the skin. Basically, the golden glow you get from tanning is not worth the risk of damage to your health.
Don’t sleep with makeup on
Dr. Miles says to never go to sleep with makeup still on the skin unless you really are aiming for a dull complexion and acne. Sleeping with makeup causes all kinds of dirt and pollutants to be trapped on the surface of your skin. Doing it just once isn’t going to cause permanent damage, but you will notice an impact to your skin’s appearance if you sleep in your makeup every single night. So please, just wash your face.
In addition to keeping all these derm dos and don’ts in mind, remember that beauty products can’t do all the work for you — you’ve got to pitch in by eating healthy, drinking water and sleeping enough. Sure, what you put on your skin is going to be really important, but taking good care of yourself goes just as far.
If you’re on the hunt for derm-approved skincare, check out our round-up of sunscreen suited to every skin type: