Plunging into the world of skincare can be a wildly confusing and nebulous undertaking—full of contradictory advice, dubious claims, and serious hyperbole. On top of that, the sheer number of brands and products we're bombarded with on a daily basis is overwhelming. Just when you think you've mastered your routine, a new must-have, "miracle" serum hits the market. The constant stream of "do this, do that, buy this, buy that" is enough to make our heads spin (and our wallets thin). Inevitably, this deluge of information (i.e. misinformation) makes it all too easy to get led in the wrong direction and pick up some not-so-healthy habits. So, instead of telling you to tack another step onto your routine, let's take a step back and review some common mistakes you might be making. And don't fret if you find yourself guilty of any of the following skin misdemeanors—all you gotta do to fix 'em is nix 'em.
1. COCONUT OIL
Ah coconut oil, that almighty, all-powerful, divine gift from the gods—how could you forsake us? Were you not brought to this earth to cure all that ails us? To end all physical, emotional, and spiritual suffering? Truth be told, it pains us to call out one of our longtime favorites. No shelfie is complete without a jar of the revered oil (the *cold-pressed, virgin, organic * kind), because there's no denying it's an excellent body moisturizer and lip balm and deep conditioner and massage oil and mouthwash and cuticle savior and just general self-care staple. We love our coco oil too much to tarnish its reputation, but we gotta set the record straight. So repeat after us: coconut oil shall not touch your face. Despite the slew of articles that came out between 2015-2017 boasting coconut oil as the "It" facial moisturizer, the facts prove otherwise. Coconut oil is comedogenic, meaning it's prone to clogging pores. In fact, our beloved oil has a comedogenic rating of 4 on a scale of 0 to 5, with 5 being the most pore clogging. Your best bet is to swap the sweet-smelling coco for something a little less suffocating—think Baobab, Rosehip and Tamanu Oil.
2. FACIAL SCRUBS
The most polarizing topic in the skincare world is the act (nay, art) of exfoliation. The argument doesn't lie in do or don't—exfoliation should be a non-negotiable in your skincare regimen—but rather how and how much. The how is achieved in one of two ways: a physical exfoliant versus a chemical one. Both products work towards the same goal—sloughing off dead skin cells in order to expose new, baby soft skin—but in different ways. While a simple facial scrub seems like the quickest, most painless (not to mention cheapest) method of exfoliation, skincare specialists claim scrubbing could actually be causing more harm than good. The abrasiveness of physical exfoliants can cause micro-tears in your skin, leaving your complexion looking dull and uneven over time. Our advice: throw away that old St. Ive's Apricot Scrub and dive into chemical exfoliants—we promise it's not as daunting as it sounds.
Now that we've tackled the how, it's time to broach the topic of how much. Once you've been shown the wonders of chemically exfoliating, it may be easy to go overboard. Take heed: thou shalt not exfoliate more than two to three times a week. You want to be sure to protect your skin's natural protective barrier—that built-in armor that shields you against environmental toxins, sun damage, and the many menaces of the physical world. And when it comes to exfoliating, always keep in mind the two golden tenets of skincare: 1. Listen to your skin first and foremost. You can consult the internet, your friends, your aunt, your landlord, etc., but at the end of the day, your skin is just that—yours. Get to know its needs and its quirks. 2. Your skin's needs will change over time. What works for you now might not work for you a year from now. Your skin will tell you what it needs—don't push it just to follow the latest skincare trend.
4. LONG, HOT SHOWERS
As therapeutic as it feels, those scorching 30-minute showers could be leaving your skin seriously parched. Hot water strips your skin of its natural medley of moisturizing agents—those oils, fats, and proteins that keep your skin looking pretty and plump. What's worse, your skin will start producing an excess of oil in order to combat the dryness. You know the result: breakouts. Take the temperature down a notch and shorten those showers.
5. PRODUCT OVERLOAD
We know it's tempting to layer on product after product in order to achieve the ultimate glow, but you're not baking a cake here—more layers does not mean better. Keep it simple with your routine and only introduce one new product at a time. That way if your skin has a negative reaction, you'll immediately be able to target the culprit. And keep tabs on the active ingredients in each product you're using. Overusing or incorrectly pairing active ingredients can cause serious irritation. A good rule to follow: avoid pairing a glycolic or salicylic acid with retinoids.
6. MAKEUP REMOVER WIPES
We get it: these are a godsent when you're traveling (or just too tired to do your full-blown routine after a long night out), but relying on makeup remover wipes alone can lead to dry, flaky, and acne-prone skin. While they'll effectively wash away that sleek cat-eye, you'll need a proper cleanser to remove any residual bacteria. Hot tip: always reach for alcohol-free for a gentler wipe-down.
7. SAUNAS & STEAM ROOMS
While some skin types swear by the benefits of a sauna session, those with rosacea or any capillary damage should avoid the intense heat as steam dilates your capillaries and severely increases redness. If you do opt for a little sweat, be sure to take a shower afterwards to wash away the excess salt and don't skimp on the moisturizer.
8. THINKING "NATURAL" ALWAYS MEANS BETTER
Would you rub a bunch of lemon slices all over your face just because they're natural? We (and your skin's pH levels) seriously hope not. When it comes to skincare and cosmetics, "natural" and "plant-based" do not necessarily mean safe, more effective, or even effective at all. The FDA doesn't have a tight grip on skincare and cosmetic definitions, so too often these words are tossed around haphazardly with no set standards. Try to avoid getting duped by misleading marketing lingo by honing in on two things: 1. Have the ingredients listed been proven safe and effective by clinical studies? and 2. Is the concentration and pairing of ingredients safe? It might take some extra research, but your skin will thank you.