The Top 3 Skin Care Mistakes A Derm Wants You To Stop Doing, Like, Right Now

Skin care routines may follow the same base structure, but there’s certainly room to play around with ingredients and extra steps. That said, you may cobble together a slightly unique regimen, and that’s OK! We’re not here to tell you that you have to follow a specific 1-2-3-step ritual, especially considering everyone’s skin reacts differently to certain formulas. That’s the beauty of skin care—finding what works best for you. But when we spoke to board-certified dermatologist Whitney Bowe, M.D., on the mindbodygreen podcast, we had to ask: Are there any common skin care practices that make you absolutely cringe? 

Lo and behold, Bowe has three main gripes. See below for what not to do and how to remedy the blunders. 

3 cringeworthy skin care mistakes.

“Cringeworthy skin care—let’s definitely go there,” she quips. So we’ll dive right into it: 

We’ll start with that first rule-of-thumb: You don’t necessarily have to toss your high-tech steamer, as long as you use it correctly. Choose a quality product (find our recommendations here), and limit your use to about once a week as tolerated. 

Next, make sure your cleansers aren’t stripping your skin till it’s parched. “You can buy pH strips to test your skin care products,” says Bowe. You can typically find these little pH strips online (here’s a pack of 320 strips), saturate it with the cleanser, and watch it transform. Depending on the hue (the box should include a helpful color chart), you can determine the pH of your product. 

Finally, Bowe suggests simply giving your skin a rest. She’s a fan of the occasional exfoliation, but make sure you’re building in nights for recovery. “It’s like when you go to the gym, you need days to recover. The same thing holds true for the skin barrier and the microbiome,” she says. “You want to use a retinol? Go for it. You want to use an AHA, like glycolic acid? Go for it, but give yourself two nights off where you’re just using nourishing, hydrating ingredients.” She lists prebiotics, jojoba oil, sunflower seed oil, glycerin, hyaluronic acid, and aloe to replenish the skin barrier. 

There’s much to experiment with when it comes to skin care, but make sure you’re not compromising your delicate barrier and microbiome in the process. Heed Bowe’s advice, and baby your skin with balance.

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