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6 common skincare mistakes that can wreck your skin

Dermatologists wish you would stop doing these things to your skin.

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Most of us want good skin, and sometimes we'll do some pretty extreme things to get it. Case in point: using out-there devices like lasers and light therapy masks that make you look like a robot. And don't even get me started on how much plastic surgery, injections and 25-step skincare regimens can cost. 

But what if getting better skin wasn't as complicated as you think? One place to start is by evaluating which skincare sins you're committing (intentionally or not) and then put better habits into place. 

Below are the top mistakes two dermatologists see people make all the time.

1. Not washing your face before bed

When you're really tired, it's tempting to skip washing your face when all you want to do is fall into bed. But, it's not a good idea for your skin (especially if you wear makeup). According to dermatologist Amie Sessa, it's one of the worst mistakes you can make for your complexion.

Equally bad? "Using makeup remover wipes as face wash every single day. You should use these in a pinch, but not as your regular washing method," Sessa said.

2. Overexfoliating with harsh scrubs

It's easy to go crazy with exfoliating scrubs, especially when your skin is feeling off or dry. But it could be doing more harm than good. "Exfoliating can cause tiny tears in the skin and can impair the skin's normal skin barrier," Caren Campbell, a board-certified dermatologist, told CNET.

Exfoliation is still important (in moderation). But instead of a harsh scrub, you can try a chemical exfoliant made with acids like AHA and/or BHA. "I prefer chemical exfoliators to mechanical ones like AHA/BHA. But these are often overused in younger patients who do not need them," Campbell said. She recommends only using them a few times a week if you have dry, flaky skin or if you are over 40.

Read more: 4 ways to check for skin cancer with your smartphone


Exfoliating scrubs might feel nice, but they can be too harsh for the skin on your face.

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3. Skipping daily sunscreen

You really need sunscreen every day -- yes, even when it's cloudy, raining or snowing. Sun exposure causes sunspots, skin damage and can lead to skin cancer -- and you don't have to be at the beach to get too much exposure. According to Sessa, using a daily moisturizer sunscreen combo is best, and make sure it's at least SPF 30.

Read more: Best sunscreens for 2020: Neutrogena, EltaMD, Supergoop and more | This one app can protect you against skin cancer, and it's already on your phone

4. Picking your skin

You may not even realize that you do it, but constantly picking at the skin can cause irritation, inflamed skin and spread bacteria. Going overboard with this can lead to scarring, and may even make you break out since your hands usually have a good amount of bacteria on them. If this is a nervous habit, try and break it by keeping your hands busy with something else. 


Using a tanning bed puts you at a much higher risk for skin cancer.

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5. Using tanning beds

You know how you're supposed to wear sunscreen? Well, using a tanning bed on the regular is even worse than forgetting your daily sunscreen. "Tanning beds will increase your melanoma risk and make your skin leathery and look prematurely aged," Sessa said. 

6. Using essential oils on your face

Essential oils may be all the rage, but it turns out they may not be great directly on your skin.

"I'm not saying that none of them are safe, but essential oils are often extremely concentrated and can cause skin reactions. 'Natural' does not always equate to good for the skin (poison ivy is natural, too!)," Sessa said. Campbell agrees, saying that many essential oils are a cause of contact skin allergies. She recommends avoiding them (and other fragrance in products) if you experience rash or irritation.

More skin care essentials

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.