We’re a country that believes in abundance. We buy in bulk, watch oversize TVs, down venti cups of coffee, even supersize our breasts (well some people do). The point is: when we love something, we do it to excess. If some is good, then more must be better—and that’s definitely the case with our beauty routines.
The miracle cream that gets slathered from head to toe, the overly-shiny face of someone who’s exfoliated skin within an inch of its life, the tanorexic, the botanic. Get my drift? Ironically, the same cosmetics we use to make us look better can, if used incorrectly, sabotage our beauty routine.
Think you’re immune? Read on—we bet you’ve broken one of these rules.
The culprit: Picking at your face
Here’s a lesson we never seem to learn: Messing with acne only leads to bigger messes. If you feel the need to touch, make sure it’s to apply salicylic; it’ll speed healing time far quicker than your fingers will.
The culprit: Sleeping with makeup on
“This is the quickest way to breed bacteria and pack on more dead skin cells,” explains Rhea Souhleris, a facialist and owner of LaSuite Skincare in Greenwich, Connecticut. And just because a formula claims to be ‘so natural you can sleep in it’, doesn’t mean you should. “Even minerals contain molecules that sit on skin attracting dirt and dust.”
The culprit: Working out with a full face of makeup
Sorry gals, we know the gym is a prime pickup spot, but lifting weights while weighing down your skin with makeup isn’t doing your complexion any favors. Grit, grime, sweat…you get the idea. It’s like prepping for a date—and a breakout to go with it. Wipe your face clean and grab a treadmill in the womens-only workout area.
The culprit: Overzealous vitamin A application
Topical tretinoin is great for minimizing those signs of age and as anyone who has tried the Rx-variety knows, some flaking skin is normal. But if you’re seeing scaling or unsightly shedding, you may be using too much or too potent a formula. Time to reassess.
The culprit: Keeping makeup past its prime
Cosmetics that crack, separate, smell, or just seem muddy or uneven on your skin are a good indication they need to be pitched. Expired makeup can lead to eye infections and breakouts. Switch out mascara every three months, cream consistencies (blush, concealer, foundations, and glosses) at the six month mark, and powders every two years.
The culprit: Not washing your makeup brushes and sponges
A noted makeup artist once told me the story of a friend who had a horrible rash on her face and although she’d undergone every allergy test in the book, doctors couldn’t pinpoint the source of her outbreak. And then they looked at her makeup brushes—mystery solved. These tools are bacteria breeding grounds. Wash them with soap and water every one-two weeks.
The culprit: Exfoliating scrubs
Sloughing away dead skin cells aids skin turnover, but beware of scrubs made from crushed pits or jagged particles that create micro-tears in skin and increase the likelihood of broken blood vessels. “Stick to spherical formulas containing a polishing bead,” says Souhleris, who recommends morning exfoliation to sweep away cells that have loosened overnight.
The culprit: Incorrect and over-washing
“It makes me crazy when clients tell me they wash their faces with bar soap or simply by splashing water on their skin” says Souhleris. “When you place a moisturizer with actives onto clean skin, it needs to be ready to receive the ingredients.” Conversely, the quest for squeaky-clean skin is also problematic because “it often means they’ve stripped away oils on skin’s upper mantle which can lead to sensitized, red skin,” explains Souhleris. Stick with a gentle face wash.
The culprit: Using a daytime moisturizer at night
If you’re using an SPF-infused moisturizer during the day, give yourself a pat on the back for practicing sun safety. But if you’re wearing that same SPF-infused moisturizer to bed, I take it back. “Many sunscreens contain large molecules designed to sit on skin’s surface which is great during the day, but a potential pore clogger at night,” says Souhleris. Invest in an SPF-free evening formula.
The culprit: Improper eye cream application
“The irony about eye creams is that when you finally get to the age when you understand why they’re necessary–you can’t get them to work quickly enough,” says Souhleris. But lavish it from lid to lash and risk eye inflammation. Limit application to the orbital bone under the eye (don’t worry, it’ll get where it needs to go) and up at the brow bone. Avoid the lid area or gravity will take its course.
Fess up! Have you committed any of these crimes against your complexion? -Melissa Milrad Goldstein