We're not a fan of strict skincare rules here, as you've got to do what's right for your skin and its unique needs. However, we're all for making skincare a bit easier to understand, and, most importantly, we want to help make sure that we're all making the most of the products actually in our rotation. Quite often, if we just make a few tweaks to our existing routine, it can make a whole lot of difference. So we decided to enlist the help of some experts to help us to not make some really common skin mistakes in 2020.
We had a chat with Debbie Thomas, advanced laser expert and founder of D. Thomas Clinic; Pamela Benito, facial aesthetics specialist; and Ewoma Ukeleghe, medical and cosmetic doctor and founder of SknDoctor Clinic to get the scoop on how we can best look after our skin.
Keep scrolling to find out how to not make these six skin mistakes in 2020.
1. Not cleansing thoroughly enough
We've all been in front of the bathroom sink after a busy day and grabbed the nearest face wash to hand. After a 20 second splash on the face, we think we're good to go. But, according to our experts, that's not the case.
"A buildup of dirt, grime, makeup or SPF in the short term can stop the skin working as effectively, especially at night when it repairs and regenerates. If not cleansed for longer periods of time, then you are more likely to see a growth in bacteria and an increase in skin compromising oxidative damage, so more inflammation, less collagen and new cells," says Thomas.
Some of you might already be thinking that this doesn't apply to you if you don't wear makeup, but Ukeleghe said otherwise: "Many of our cities, especially London, have extremely high pollution levels," she reveals. "Pollution generates free radicals on the skin, which causes ageing. So even if you don't wear makeup, pollution is enough of a reason to cleanse."
We tend to rely on products for the solution, but often the answer lies in how we use the products. If your skin is blemish-prone and you've got a large crew of cleansers, it might be worth looking at how you cleanse your face too.
"If your skin is not cleansed properly, your pores will become clogged and dirt will build up on the surface of the skin, which can result in the development of acne," said Benito.
Shop the cleansers:
Double cleansing is the way to go, and this nourishing balm is the perfect first step in effortlessly removing even the heaviest makeup.
Follow up with this milky rosepetal infused cleanser after you've used the balm or as your morning cleanse.
Get the best of both worlds with every beauty editor's favourite cleanser that has you covered for both steps of your cleansing routine.
2. Not cleaning makeup brushes and sponges often enough
This is probably one of the most joyless beauty tasks, albeit the most necessary one. Yes, it's time-consuming, but not cleaning your makeup brushes might well be undoing all of your skincare routine's hard work.
"I always ask clients about this during skin consultations, as dirty brushes are laden with sebum, dead skin cells, layers of old makeup, dust and bacteria. So applying these components to your skin, every day is counterproductive to your skin's health," said Ukeleghe.
Regularly cleaning your makeup tools not only gives your skin some extra benefits but will keep your makeup application looking its best too. Plus, brushes are made to last, so keeping them clean will ensure they stay in great condition.
Benito makes a good point, too, that you might not be able to see just how dirty your brushes are on the inside, so wash them anyway. "Not cleaning your makeup brushes can lead to bacteria buildup inside your brushes and therefore cause breakouts and acne. If your brushes are clogged and filled with existing product, your skin will naturally get irritated, leading to even more breakouts from the bacteria build-up," she said.
Shop brush and sponge cleaners:
Thank your lucky stars for this rinse-free spray that will cut your brush cleaning time in half.
3. Not wearing daily sunscreen
There are two groups of people. Ones who wear sunscreen every single day and those who know all the reasons why they should but don't.
"Daily sunscreen is an important preventive habit that should be maintained every day of the year, including wintertime. It protects your skin from UV rays, lowering skin cancer risk," said Benito.
If all of your money goes towards a complex blend of skincare products instead of sunscreen, it might be worth re-thinking, as "up to 80% of the signs of ageing, such as redness, wrinkles and pigmentation can be linked back to UV damage," said Thomas.
A common misconception with sunscreen is that darker skin tones get a pass. So, Ukeleghe filled us in: "Darker skin tones have an 'in-built' SPF of approx 13 and a more resilient skin structure. This helps to counteract some of the negative effects of the sun, but that shouldn't cause complacency."
Basically, everyone—including people with darker skin tones—needs to use it every day, and there are so many options that there's no excuse not to.
Not a fan of the texture of sunscreen? This is a great one that replicates the feel of a moisturiser but also keeps you protected.
You won't even believe that this is sunscreen, thanks to the lightweight formula that also makes for a great makeup base.
4. Picking blemishes or spots
This is a big one, that's often easier said than done. Acne and other skin conditions can have an impact on your mental and emotional well-being and picking might be a behaviour that you really struggle to stop doing. However, being armed with the knowledge of why the experts say not to do it can often be helpful to stop the pattern.
"Before you start popping pimples, you should consider what's happening under the skin. There is dirt in the area and squeezing a spot can push this bacteria deeper in the skin, causing more irritation and redness and prolonging the inflammation," said Benito.
For many people, believing that the pimple will go away quicker when you pick is often the reason for doing it. So Thomas gave us a great reminder: "The overall healing time can increase, as once you have picked once, you can’t help giving it another go. Finally, there is more risk of longer-term red marks or scars when spots have been overpicked."
In the meantime, if you're not going to pick, what's the advice? "The best thing you can do is leave the pimple alone and it will disappear on its own in a few days. You must keep it clean and use special cleansers or products containing salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide," said Benito.
Shop products for acne and blemish-prone skin:
With cleansing wipes and salicylic acid–infused patches, this will treat spots and help you to not pick them too.
All you need to do is pop this blemish-reducing overnight mask on and head to sleep. For that price it's a no brainer.
5. Over-using products (including exfoliants)
Get your notebooks at the ready, as you're about to save yourself some time and money. You might even look at that serum that you convinced yourself wasn't working in a whole new light.
"I see a lot of people using too many products; only so much will ever get into your skin, so mostly you are just putting product on top of product, which is a waste," Thomas said.
Be sure to read the directions for use on the back of the packaging, as if it says to use a 5p amount, you probably should. It's not only about how much product you use but also how long you give it a go for too.
Thomas adds, "Swapping products around too often and never giving skin the time to process what’s being asked of it is another one. Imagine each active ingredient is just a message telling your skin to do something, firstly you confuse it with too many messages, then before it’s even processed most of what you have asked, you have changed the message again."
Instead of throwing out a product if you're not seeing results in a month, she said that it often takes three to six months of regular use to see benefits, so hang in there.
Still not convinced and already eyeing up a new moisturiser to add in to your routine? If you're over-using products or have too many in your regimen, Benito said, "You will notice skin reactions like increased breakouts and congested pores. The skin can’t handle all the ingredients at once and can also get red and sensitive, with irritation and an itchy rash effect, which usually results in increased dryness."
6. Not accepting and being at peace with your skin
Last but not least, this is one we don't spend enough time thinking about. The skin is the largest organ in our bodies and its pretty amazing. We don't give skin enough credit, because we're focused on what it looks like, instead of all the wonderful things it does for us.
Finding peace with the way you look is a great starting point for any beauty and skincare routine and helps to avoid products being "hope in a jar." If you're struggling with skin acceptance, try to spend more time just touching, massaging and enjoying your skin, without the intention to fix it and start a gratitude list of all the things you love about yourself that aren't related to your appearance.
It's a daily process to find acceptance with the way you look, but one that's well worth committing to.