When it comes to skincare, it can be confusing to know which products to use, how often to use them and which ingredients to avoid. Everybody’s skin is different and will therefore require personalised advice. However, there are a few things that everyone should – or shouldn’t – be doing when it comes to skincare. Many people are guilty of making at least one of the following skincare mistakes; are you one of them? Find out how to correctly care for your skin and give it the attention that it deserves.
Skincare Mistake #1 – Using Face Wipes
Face wipes are a beauty staple for lots of women, thanks to their ability to remove makeup in a flash. A pack of wipes kept by the bed means that no matter how tired you are, you’ll always be able to take your makeup off before you go to sleep, which means they must be really good for your skin, right?
Not really. Whilst wipes may seem effective at removing makeup, that is all they are doing. Cleansing isn’t just about taking off your makeup, it’s about thoroughly cleaning the skin of dirt and impurities. Wipes tend to only remove the visible layers of makeup, often leaving behind traces of cosmetics, dirt and potentially irritating ingredients.
Face wipes – even baby wipes and the ones designed for sensitive skin – can drag at the skin, no matter how gentle you think you are being. Repeatedly dragging the skin can lead to broken capillaries and fine lines (especially around the delicate eye area), and can irritate skin that is fragile and prone to sensitivity. Face wipes are also usually laden with harsh chemicals that can lead to further irritation and premature ageing.
“Moist cloths packed on top of each other are a breeding ground for bacteria,” says Sarah Brown, founder of Pai Skincare. “They sit on shelves for up to 18 months on a warm shop floor, and so require high levels of preservatives, alcohol and anti-bacterial agents to keep them usable.”
If you still need a reason to be convinced why you should ditch your face wipes, think about the impact they have on the environment. The results of a recent Marine Conservation Society (MCS) annual beach cleanup found that the number of wet wipes washing up on the UK’s beaches more than doubled between 2013 and 2014. Thirty-five of the non-biodegradable wipes were found for every kilometre of beach, due to consumers flushing them down the toilet. What’s more, wet wipes can often contain plastic fibres, which is harmful to wildlife such as turtles, who often mistake plastic bags for jellyfish. “When marine wildlife eats that plastic, which they quite often do, it just stays in the stomach of the animals and quite often they just die of starvation,” says MCS conservation officer Charlotte Coombes.
Boycott wipes and instead opt for a cream- or oil-based cleanser to thoroughly remove makeup, dirt and impurities from your skin whilst leaving it soft and hydrated. Spend time massaging it into your skin and then gently remove with a warm face cloth. If your excuse for using wipes is that you don’t have time to cleanse properly, make time! Take your makeup off before you start to feel tired, and get into the habit of having a mini pamper session every night; your skin will thank you for it.
Skincare Mistake #2 – Not Using Moisturiser
As a facialist, I am always shocked by the number of women who tell me they never use moisturiser. Moisturisers do more than just hydrate; they keep the skin soft and provide a barrier between the skin and the harsh effects of the sun, wind and environmental pollution. I can always tell who has rarely used moisturiser on their face, due to the tell-tale broken capillaries and reddened complexion caused by years without protection from the elements. Even oily skin types should use a moisturiser to keep the skin hydrated and balanced, since they improve its water content, rather than the oil content.
Choose a high-quality moisturiser that suits your skin type. Dry skin types will benefit from a richer product, whereas skin prone to oiliness will need a lighter formulation. Apply a small amount of moisturiser to your skin and gently massage in to your face and neck areas. It’s better to apply too little and then add more if you need it rather than wasting a huge dollop of product. If you wear makeup, allow a few minutes for your moisturiser to absorb into your skin. If you do find you’ve used too much moisturiser, use a tissue to blot away any excess oil and shine.
Skincare Mistake #3 – Incorrectly Exfoliating
Exfoliating is an essential part of a good skincare routine. It helps to remove dead skin cells, revealing fresh new ones, and it boosts circulation to the area, resulting in a healthy glow. Exfoliation also evens the complexion and allows other products – such as serums and moisturiser – to be more easily absorbed. A common mistake is over-exfoliating, which can cause redness, dryness, irritation and even breakouts. On the other hand, rarely exfoliating can lead to dry flaky patches, congestion and a dull complexion.
Scrubbing too hard, thinking it’s the most effective way to exfoliate, is also a big mistake, especially when the product contains harsh ingredients like crushed nuts, apricot kernels, sugar or salt. The rough, jagged edges of these ingredients can cause micro tears in the skin, resulting in sensitivity and irritation.
Microbeads are another ingredient to avoid. These tiny plastic particles, hidden under various names including Polyethylene (PE), Polypropylene (PP) and Polyethylene terephthalate (PET), are not only potentially toxic to our bodies, but are extremely harmful to the environment. Microbeads are washed down our drains before polluting the sea, where marine animals often mistake them for food.
Use a natural product made with gentle exfoliating agents like finely ground rice or jojoba beads (made from jojoba oil, not to be confused with microbeads). Exfoliate no more than once or twice a week, after cleansing, and follow with a good moisturiser.
Skincare Mistake #4 – Not Cleansing in the Morning
Even if you cleanse religiously every night, do you often skip your cleanser in the morning? Just because there’s no makeup to remove doesn’t mean your skin isn’t dirty. While we sleep, our skin regenerates, sheds dead skin cells and produces sebum and sweat. So although your skin may look clean when you wake up, it probably isn’t!
Cleansing in the morning not only helps to buff away dead skin cells, traces of night cream/oil, grease and grime, but it helps to prepare a smooth base for your makeup. And if you don’t wear makeup, cleansing in the morning will help create a youthful, radiant glow.
Make time to incorporate a quick, gentle cleanse every morning, either with your usual night cleanser or a lighter product; a cleansing lotion is ideal. If you enjoy splashing your face with cool water to help wake you up, you don’t have to forgo it – do this after removing your cleanser to help close your pores and refresh your skin. Gently pat your skin dry before applying your usual moisturiser and you’ll be set up for the day.
Skincare Mistake #5 – Not Using Sun Protection Year-Round
You may take great care to protect your face from the sun in the summer or whilst on holiday, but do you continue to use SPF all year round? Although the sun’s rays are usually not strong enough to burn us during the colder months, they can still penetrate our skin, contributing to premature ageing.
“UVA rays (think A for ageing) are the ones associated with skin ageing and wrinkles, and account for up to 95% of UV radiation that reaches the Earth’s surface,” says Aesthetic Doctor, Dr. Maryam Zamani. “UVA radiation will affect the elastin in the skin, leading to wrinkles and sun induced ageing such as leathery skin and brown pigmentation, as well as skin cancer.”
You don’t have to use a thick sunscreen all year round to protect your skin. Many moisturisers and mineral-based foundations now provide sun protection; choose a product with an SPF of 30+ for the greatest protection. Whichever product you use, try to opt for physical sun protection ingredients like titanium dioxide and zinc oxide instead of chemical ingredients, which may be harmful to our health and the environment.
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