Applying sunscreen before applying makeup
You shouldn’t apply sunscreen before foundation, says Los Angeles dermatologist Jessica Wu, MD. “If you use sunscreen first, and then you use an anti-aging product and then a moisturizer, and then makeup, you’re disturbing that sunscreen film,” she adds. Applying other products on top of sunscreen removes some of the SPF, leading to uneven coverage. Instead, apply a thin layer of sunscreen with at least SPF 30 to your skin after you finish applying makeup.
Depending on your makeup’s SPF for sun protection
A tinted moisturizer or foundation with SPF is better than one that doesn’t offer sun protection, but most people don’t apply enough SPF-containing makeup to adequately protect themselves from harmful UV rays, according to Health magazine, and you often miss your ears and neck. Also, your makeup’s SPF may only protect you from UVB rays and not UVA rays (both increase your skin cancer risk and aging). Instead, apply both your SPF-containing cosmetic products and a separate broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB rays.
Scrubbing with a washcloth
Cleaning your face with a towel isn’t the best way to remove the dirt, grime, and oil. The fibers in your washcloth can irritate your skin and tear at its protective layer, which can contribute to the development of fine lines and dryness, says New York City dermatologist Mona Gohara, MD. Instead, she recommends using your hands to rub in or wash off products and cleansers.
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Including toner in your routine
If you don’t have acne and you use a mild face wash (or other drying products, like a retinol cream), chances are you don’t need toner. Toners clean the skin and minimize pores, and you risk over-drying if you’re already using a myriad of other products, says Dr. Gohara. Unless you have particularly oily skin, reserve toner to treat an occasional breakout.
Oily skin is not necessarily bad: Dr. Gohara says that the natural oils produced by your face are necessary for maintaining your skin’s protective layer. Many people assume that tingling feeling after a wash is a good thing, but that tightness means your skin has been stripped of its natural oils. Instead, use a gentle cleanser and apply moisturizer afterward. You could also consider washing only once a day—at night—to avoid overdoing it.
Removing polish with acetone-based products
Travis Rathbone for Reader's Digest
Acetone-based nail polish removers make removing that stubborn glitter polish a breeze, but the harsh ingredient can dry out your nails and the surrounding skin, according to SELF
. This dryness could weaken your nails, and cause breakage. Try a non-acetone remover with less aggressive solvents like ethyl acetate, isopropyl alcohol, and propylene carbonate.
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Considering eye cream a necessity
There’s no harm in using an eye cream, but you might not actually need it. Unless you have irritation or struggle with wrinkles on the skin around your eyes, you can forgo the additional moisturizer, says Dr. Wu. Instead, choose a cheaper alternative, like petroleum jelly, or stick to a simple moisturizer.
Slathering on fragrant lotions
You might like your face to smell like roses, but that doesn’t mean your pores do. Dr. Gohara says that fragrant lotions, even seemingly natural products, have the potential to irritate your skin. "Fragrance is the No. 1 allergen in cosmetics and skin care,” dermatologist Audrey Kunin, MD, told Today
. Instead, Dr. Gohara says to opt for lotions that are fragrance-free, sulfate-free, and paraben-free, which tend to be less irritating.
Trusting an anti-aging cleanser to reverse the clock
At the first sign of a fine line, it’s natural to grab anything with an “anti-aging” label, but cleansers don’t have the ability to turn back time. "Cleanser stays on your face for about six seconds—no anti-aging ingredient can affect your skin in six seconds," Boston dermatologist Ranella Hirsch, MD, told Oprah.com
. Instead, use an anti-aging moisturizer or an overnight retinol cream.
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Using too much retinol
Although studies have shown that prescription Retin-A and its over-the-counter cousin retinol boost collagen production in the skin, heal blemishes, and reduce wrinkles, the product must be used in moderate, monitored doses. Using more than a pea-sized amount can over-dry the skin, says Dr. Gohara. Many of her patients mistakenly use too much. “If someone can tell you’re using a retinol—because you have red, flaky skin—you’re overusing it. Only if your skin can tolerate it, do it once a night,” she explains. If you’re prone to irritation, try using it every other day.
Styling with mega-hold hair spray
A stiff, sticky hair spray might keep every stray strand of hair in place, but the product may weaken your locks over time. These hairsprays “are usually high in alcohol, which makes hair dry and brittle,” Paradi Mirmirani, MD, a San Francisco dermatologist, told Prevention
. “Once you comb or brush your hair, that residue causes the hair to break and fall out.” Instead, use light-hold hairsprays or hairsprays that substitute alcohol-based ingredients for organic oil-based ingredients.
Skipping a nightly wash
“Never go to bed with makeup on,” Harold Lancer, MD, a Beverly Hills dermatologist, told Health magazine. “Without cleansing, cosmetics get into pores, which can lead to congestion.” And that can cause acne and blackheads. You might be tired and ready for bed, but that’s no reason to punish your skin.