You take care of your skin, washing your face twice a day, using SPF, and applying anti-aging cream. You’re doing everything right—right? Surprisingly, your regimen may be doing more harm than good. We uncover the most common mistakes and offers smart solutions for getting great skin.
Big Mistake #1 – You rely on your foundation’s SPF.
What’s wrong: Regardless of the SPF number, foundation alone won’t keep rays from penetrating your skin. “Most foundations don’t protect against both UVA and UVB rays,” says Francesca Fusco, M.D., a New York City dermatologist. The other problem? “You’re not rubbing it in as you would an SPF, and likely using an ineffective amount,” she says.
The fix: Use a broad-spectrum SPF lotion and let it sink in for a few minutes. Then apply SPF foundation.
Big Mistake #2 – You over-rinse your face.
What’s wrong: “Water on your face can be drying,” says David Bank, M.D., a dermatologist in Mount Kisco, New York. “Water seeks more water, so when you’re dousing skin with it, it upsets its natural balance,” says Bank. (The oils in your outer layer of skin—the epidermis—keep it healthy.)
The fix: If your skin is dry, wash without H2O, using a creamy cleanser or a wipe. If you have oily or combination skin, it’s OK to clear off with water. Just stop after two rinses.
Big Mistake #3 – You’ve been buying the same anti-aging cream forever
What’s wrong: “Skin changes as you age and you need to keep up with progress,” says Bank. The newest products contain stronger and more effective ingredients. “It’s like having an old cell and getting an iPhone: It’s amazing what new products can do.”
The fix: Concentrate on your biggest skin issue—sagging, wrinkles, fine lines or all three—and pick a lotion with antioxidants, retinol or peptides.
Big Mistake #4 – Believing more is better.
What’s wrong: Going overboard with skincare can backfire. “Products have been tested with the recommended amount. Using more than that won’t speed up the process and may produce side effects—like redness and flaking,” says Bank.
The fix: For prescription products, a pea-size amount is fine. For store-bought creams that have active ingredients like retinol, such as ROC Retinol Correxion Sensitive, use a dime-size dab.
Big Mistake #5 – You layer on anti-aging ingredients.
What’s wrong: Piling on a moisturizer over a brightener over a serum may make you think you’re waging a war against aging, but you’re not. “Multiple ingredients, especially retinols and AHA, can work against one another. Instead of looking smooth and radiant, your face gets inflamed and pink,” says Fusco.
The fix: If you want to layer, invest in a synergistic skincare line whose products are made to work together.
Big Mistake #6 – You keep your pores squeaky clean with overuse of pore strips and toners.
What’s wrong: “Keep a healthy balance of sebum in your pores—the more you use the strips, the bigger they look,” says Eric Schwieger, M.D., a dermatologist in New York, who says that large pores are often permanently stretched out. Also, harsh toners “can send oil glands into overdrive.”
The fix: Unless you battle blackheads, trade the toner and strips for a gentle glycolic exfoliant.
Big Mistake #7 – You use a creamy lotion under your eyes.
What’s wrong: “Many people think that under-eye cream should be rich to prevent aging, but that’s a bad choice,” says Dallas-based celebrity facialist Renée Rouleau. “The skin under your eyes is thin and heavy products may cause skin down, causing wrinkles.”
The fix: Choose a lightweight product that’s created especially for use under eyes which also helps to diminish under-eye circles.