1. Overstocking Your Medicine Cabinet
Quite simply: you're using too many products. "A complicated skin regimen, with a lot of active ingredients and preservatives, can end up throwing oil into the fire," says Dr. Paul Jarrod Frank, a cosmetic dermatologist based in New York. "People who have average to good skin: start out with a basic cleanser and a moisturizer." If your skin changes depending on the season, stock whatever you need to mitigate problems (for instance, if your skin is dry in the winter and oily in the summer, you might want a cream moisturizer for the colder months and a gel moisturizer in the summer). As for your other products? "Open up the garbage and siphon out what you don't need," advises Frank.
2. Shopping Online to Save Money
Dr. Thomas Rohrer, a skincare physician based in Chestnut Hill, Mass., says he occasionally sees patients who buy dermatologist-grade products online from other countries (think chemical peels and even Botox) hoping to save a buck. "I had one patient who came in having burned herself with a peel we'd normally use in the office," said Rohrer. Bottom line: if it's something you'd normally find at a doctor's office, go to the doctor to get it.
3. Always Jumping On The Next Big Thing
The beauty industry unleashes fresh products that claim to solve our woes on a near-daily basis. But there's something to be said for the old standards. "New is not always better," says Frank. "People who have the best skin follow a consistent routine."
4. Not Paying Attention
"People don't realize that if they exfoliate and then put a retinol product on, that will increase irritation," says Frank. Be mindful of the order in your regimen to get the most out of each formula. This combo is especially irritating to people who suffer from rosacea, warns Rohrer.
5. Using SPF Makeup As Sunscreen
"It's a good as a starter, but if you're going to be out in the sun at all, you need to up it," says Rohrer. So remember to apply a minimum of SPF 15 under your makeup.
6. Caked-On Makeup
"When makeup is covering flaws rather than enhancing your skin, then you have to reconsider your routine," says Frank. "Makeup today is very different than it was 20 years ago — now, it's not meant to look like makeup." So if you feel like you're approaching that news anchor look at all, dial back your application and give your pores a break.
7. Expecting Instant Results
"People have this impression that you're going to get instant gratification, and if you don't, they throw it out and move on," says Frank. So if you are testing out a product your skin isn't familiar with, give it some time to work its mojo: "It takes 30 days for your skin to turn over, so give it 4 to 6 weeks [each time you try something new] to see if it works."
8. Self-Treating Your Acne
For minor breakouts, it's fine to use over-the-counter stuff. But if you're a regular sufferer, Clean & Clear isn't going to solve anything. "Acne is a chronic disease of the skin," says Frank. "It's not simple and it needs a doctor."
9. Not Measuring
Overall, Frank says we tend to over-use our products. "It's human reflex to assume that more will be better and faster. This is very true of things with retinol in them — it's very effective in anti-aging, but it can cause a lot of irritation if you use too much." All you need is a pea-sized amount for your whole face."
One notable exception? Sunscreen. "Then they don't put on the full amount," says Frank. So lather up! And steer clear of the misting sprays for your face, says Rohrer. "Likely, they're not going to do it for you."