We generally turn to skin care to prevent breakouts, but sometimes the solution can be part of the problem. Experts shared the skin-care mistakes they most commonly see lead to breakouts. From too much of a good thing to trying new techniques, you’re probably making at least one of these mistakes.
Not washing your face before bed
“When people skip cleansing in the evening, they’re going to bed with dirt, oil, cellular debris, makeup and SPF that is embedding itself into the pores, causing congestion, dehydration and free radical damage that will rob you of your glow, impair skin function and likely lead to blackheads and acne,” says aesthetician known as “the LA Facialist” Candace Marino. If that wasn’t enough to scare you into washing your face, she adds that “going to bed without clean skin will also rapidly accelerate the aging process by increasing build up in both fine lines and pores, leading to more textured and weathered-looking skin.”
We’ve all been there: The day is done, we’re finally able to crash in bed, and sometimes the last thing we want to do is a four-step skin-care routine. Marino recommends “cleansing the skin and applying your routine as soon as you’re home for the day and before getting comfy on the couch.”
Not cleansing skin thoroughly enough
Dallas aesthetician Savanna Boda says double cleansing is a must to ensure all the makeup, dirt and excess oils are out of the way and pores are clear before applying products. For makeup-wearers, Marino goes one step further and recommends a triple cleanse. The first cleanse involves an oil or balm. Marino loves Augustinus Bader The Cleansing Balm ($77), “which melts through makeup and is unscented, making it safe and gentle for the eye area and it will literally cut through even the heaviest eyeliner in a breeze.”
Beverly Hills, CA dermatologist Ava Shamban, MD says “the old adage applies—everything in moderation.” She even notes that if there are existing pimples this can cause them to spread.
For the second cleanse, Marino uses “a mildly exfoliating cleanser to treat the skin with enzymes or acids which break down dead cells to prevent breakouts.” She loves the hydrating, non-stripping, exfoliating fresh Soy pH-Balanced Hydrating Face Wash ($39). This cleanser is effective without leaving the skin feeling parched. It “also maintains the skin’s healthy pH and increases the skin’s hydration thanks to humectant-rich ingredients like aloe vera and borage seed oil.” For the final step, Marino turns to a gentle enzymatic cleanser like iS Clinical Warming Honey Cleanser ($48). “Honey is a natural antibacterial, antimicrobial, antiviral and anti-inflammatory, making it incredibly anti-acneic and healing.”
Using products that are too oily
West Palm Beach, FL dermatologist Kenneth Beer, MD says one of the biggest issues is using products that are too oily for the user’s particular skin type. He notes that this tends to happen more frequently in cold, dry climates.
Not changing your pillowcase enough
Did you know you should be changing your pillowcase weekly? Boda tells her clients to change theirs at least twice a week to help prevent breakouts. “Pillowcases harbor bacteria, drool, hair oils and dust mites,” says Boda.
“While exfoliating is key to having healthy, balanced skin, overdoing it can trigger more breakouts,” warns Marino. Boda explains that over-exfoliating can cause the skin barrier to become compromised. “When your skin barrier is compromised, it becomes more prone to irritation and inflammation, which can lead to breakouts,” says Boda.
Marino suggests sticking to a gentle exfoliant one to two times a week. She likes a mask that helps break down cellular debris while purifying the skin. She recommends fresh Umbrian Clay Mask ($60) as it’s “perfect for this and can even be used as a spot treatment.” Marino notes that you can add a bit of aloe to the mask to soften the texture, prevent over drying and provide some additional hydrating and anti-bacterial benefits.
Over-cleansing or stripping the skin’s barrier
You may have known that exfoliating too much isn’t good for skin, but did you know cleansing skin too much can also lead to problems? “Although I’m a huge advocate of triple cleansing (for makeup wearers), over cleansing and stripping the skin’s barrier can ultimately lead to more breakouts,” says Marino. “When the skin is dried out from overuse of chemicals like AHAs/retinoids or even SLS and foaming agents, it can have a rebound effect by making the skin overproduce oil to compensate for the lack of moisture or barrier function This can then clog already acne-prone skin with excess oil.” The key here is balance and choosing the right cleanser for your skin.
Changing your products too often
Although it’s fun to try new products, Boda says consistency is key when it comes to skin care. “Changing products every week will only cause irritation and breakouts,” she warns.
Using old products
It’s easy to forget skin care expires, but it’s crucial to toss it when it does. Dr. Beer says products that have been sitting around become a breeding ground for bacteria and using them could result in breakouts.
DIY skin care
DIY skin care has become increasingly popular, thanks to TikTok, but experts advise against it. “Playing chemist at home is one of the easiest ways to ensure a breakout,” says Boda. “Put down the lemon juice and egg whites and leave it to the skin-care professionals.”
Touching your face
“Keeping hands off the face is imperative for people who are acne prone. Touching or picking is only going to spread bacteria, activate oil production and cause a vicious cycle,” says Marino. She advises only touching the face when needed, like applying skin care or makeup. Always make sure the hands are clean before touching the face.