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My Biggest Skincare Mistakes

I know I haven’t been so active lately, and some of you even reached out about wanting more content. Unfortunately, the website just wasn’t working out financially, so I had to take a break.

But hey, you know what they say… Smart people learn from their mistakes. But the real sharp ones learn from the mistakes of others. That’s why I’m back today to share some of my skincare mistakes over the years. So let’s find out what I messed up with my skincare routine so you don’t have to.

DIY, natural skincare

Remember those “natural” face masks circulating online? Yeah, I fell for that one. Lemon juice, apple cider vinegar – you name it, I concocted it. Big mistake. These ingredients often have a low pH, which disrupts the skin’s natural, slightly acidic mantle. Mess with the pH, and you leave your skin vulnerable to irritation, dryness, and increased sensitivity.

Now, I’m not saying natural and DIY skincare is inherently bad. There are some fantastic natural ingredients out there. But, they require a bit more research and caution. Without proper knowledge, it’s easy to mess up a recipe and irritate your skin. Be diligent and do your research.

Use humectants in dry climates

Living in a dry climate, I craved hydration. So, I piled on hyaluronic acid serums like nobody’s business. Here’s the thing: hyaluronic acid is a humectant, meaning it attracts moisture from the environment. But in a dry environment, it can backfire! Without an occlusive layer (like a moisturizer with ceramides or petrolatum) to trap that attracted moisture, hyaluronic acid can actually pull moisture out of your deeper skin layers. This is what causes dryness. So, humectants are great, but pair them with an occlusive if you use them in dry climates to lock in that hydration. 

Read next: Learn more about humectants and occlusives

Trying to dry out my acne pimples

Teenage me was convinced drying out pimples would make them disappear faster. Enter harsh cleansers and drying lotions. Spoiler alert: it made things worse. These aggressive products disrupt the skin barrier, leading to increased inflammation and even more breakouts. Plus, irritated skin takes longer to heal. The key is to be gentle with acne-prone skin. Focus on calming ingredients and gentle exfoliation to promote healthy cell turnover.

Using way too many actives and destroying my skin barrier

Ever heard the saying “less is more”? It definitely applies to skincare. I once layered on a cocktail of active ingredients – retinol, AHAs, BHAs – thinking it would accelerate results. Wrong. This aggressive approach completely overwhelmed my skin barrier. Start slow with one active at a time and gradually increase frequency based on your skin’s tolerance.

Didn’t care about my skin barrier

With oily skin, I used harsh cleansers and products specifically formulated to decrease sebum production. But guess what? This backfired spectacularly. Stripping my skin of its natural oils triggered a compensatory response, leading to even greater sebum production. It’s a vicious cycle! A healthy skin barrier actually helps regulate oil production. Harsh cleansers disrupt this delicate balance. Opt for gentle cleansers and oil-free moisturizers to keep your skin balanced, not stripped. Also, here are some products to restore a healthy skin barrier-thank me later.

Over exfoliation 

Remember those days when “glowing skin” meant scrubbing your face raw with apricot scrubs? Yeah, me too. But here’s the deal: over-exfoliation disrupts the skin’s natural cell turnover process, leading to inflammation, micro-tears, and increased sensitivity to environmental damage. Gentle exfoliation, a few times a week with chemical exfoliants like AHAs or BHAs, is all you need to achieve a healthy glow without the harsh side effects. Not sure if you’re exfoliating your skin correctly? Here are four signs you’re exfoliating too much and how to treat it.

Retinol without sunscreen

Retinol is a game-changer for anti-aging, but it comes with a big responsibility: sun protection. In my retinol enthusiasm, I forgot about sunscreen during the day. Big mistake. Retinol increases skin cell turnover, making it more susceptible to sun damage. So, while retinol works its magic at night, sunscreen protects your progress during the day. Always, always pair retinol with a broad-spectrum SPF 30 or higher.

Not patch testing products one at a time

New product, fancy packaging? Straight to my face it went! This impulsive approach led to a series of allergic reactions and breakouts from unidentified ingredients. Patch testing is your friend! Apply a small amount of the product to a non-descript area like the inner forearm and wait 24-48 hours. If there’s no redness or irritation, you’re good to go. Patch testing saves you a lot of future trouble – trust me!

Who wrote this?
Picture of Ana Vasilescu
Ana Vasilescu
Ana Vasilescu is the founder of Women's Concepts and a certified skincare consultant. She has over five years of experience working in the beauty editorial industry and over a decade as an acne sufferer. With a background in dermatological research, Ana brings a wealth of expertise to a diverse range of topics, from buzzy ingredients to anti-aging and acne advice. She holds a BA in Sociology and Political Sciences. Find her on LinkedIn or Instagram.
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