Hey everyone! I've been wanting to write up a post about common mistakes people make with their skincare routines that should be avoided. A lot of the mistakes are really common, while others aren't as obvious. I've tried to make this relatively simple and easy to read/understand, so if you have any comments or if something's not clear, please don't hesitate to let me know! Sources can be found at the bottom of the post :)
So, first thing is first. There is some general background knowledge you should know about your skin before reading further. This will involve a little bit of chemistry, but it's very important to understand if you want to take care of your skin!
As I'm sure most of you know, there is a pH scale that measures how acidic or alkaline a liquid is. 1 is the most acidic, 14 is the most alkaline. Your skin has a pH level between 4.5-5.5; or, the first layer of your skin (called the acid mantle) has that pH level. This is one way your skin protects itself from harmful bacteria, pollution, and moisture loss. Messing with the pH level of your skin messes with the acid mantle's ability to protect your skin, and it takes only a moment for your skin's acid mantle to be damaged, but between 14-17 days for it to repair itself. Continued, daily use of products that damage the acid mantle will lead to issues like 'dry skin, dehydration, over oily skin, flaky skin, acne, and sensitivity'. This gets worse the older you get, as your skin loses its ability to recover from the damage.
Keep this in mind when reading over the next few common skincare mistakes~
The above paragraph basically covered this, but I'll elaborate a bit further. Here are some pH levels from products that are commonly used in (DIY) skincare vs healthy skin.
pH 2 = lemon juice
pH 4.5-5.5 = healthy skin
pH 8.5 = baking soda
pH 9.0-10.0 = Hand Soap, detergents
On the other side of the spectrum, using alkaline products (of which the vast majority of cleansers are) leads to a decrease in your skin's ability to kill harmful bacterium, including the kind that causes acne. This ends up leading to more, not less, acne (so basically the opposite of what you want haha). A lot of cleansers simply have way too high of pH to be good for your skin. I've begun testing the pH levels of my skincare products, and can start posting them with reviews if any of y'all are interested.
2) Using too harsh physical scrubs (too often)
On to the next very common mistake- harsh physical scrubs! Essentially any scrub that uses things like crushed nut shells or anything equally non-uniform can cause little microtears in your skin due to the uneven jagged edges, damaging your skin's barrier. If you have to use a physical exfoliant, a soft wash cloth is probably your best choice. It won't clog your pores or tear at your skin. If you really, really want a scrub though, it should have microbeads or something uniform that won't be too harsh. You should also avoid plastic beads, because they can really hurt the environment once they're washed down the drain :(
Once you've found a decent scrub, you shouldn't use it too often. For some people, exfoliating once a week is perfect, for others it's once a day. Just don't tug too much or be too harsh!
Another gentle option for exfoliation are those 'peel' gels, like Cure Natural Aqua Gel or Tonymoly's Appletox peeling cream. From what I understand, they're basically like a more gentle version of an acid peel that won't dry your skin out. If you do invest in one of these, be careful not to use it too often!
What most people think of as blackheads are actually something called sebaceous filaments. Sebum is an oily substance that your skin naturally produces to protect itself from moisture loss. When this sebum collects around hair follicles, 'tiny tubes' of this sebum are formed. Your genetics determine how prominent they are, but they're not blackheads.
Image found here
Even if you use a pore strip on them, they will come right back. But you don't want to use pore strips on them in the first place, for a few reasons:
- Peeling off the strips is harsh on your skin, leading to dryness and flakes.
- All the tugging can cause broken capillaries- these are permanent, requiring laser treatments to fix. I have some on the sides of my nose from too harshly extracting pimples, and I hate them. :/ Don't beee liiikkee meee!!!
- They can stretch out your pores, leading to even more obvious sebaceous filaments!
That's not to say there's nothing you can do, however! Regular chemical exfoliation with an AHA or a BHA and a regular (gentle) oil massaging can reduce the appearance of both your normal pores and the sebaceous filaments on your nose. If anyone's interested in information about BHAs or AHAs, see here.
Everyone should be using 1/4 of a teaspoon of a broad spectrum sunscreen on your face, even on cloudy or rainy days. If you don't apply that much sunscreen, you aren't getting the full SPF protection stated on the bottle, and UVA rays are constantly present, rain or shine (UVB rays are more prevalent on sunny days, but still there!). This is even more important if you're using an AHA, BHA, or retinoid, as these increases your skin's sensitivity to sun. Using sunscreen is simply the best preventative tool you have available to ensure that you have lovely skin as you age! :)
Roughly 1/4 teaspoon of sunscreen, Image from here.