Common Skincare Mistakes that Damage Your Skin


When it comes to flawless, healthy, and glowing skin, investing in top-quality cosmetics isn’t enough. If you’ve been faithfully following a skincare routine only to be frustrated by a lack of results, it’s possible you’ve unknowingly fallen victim to some common skincare mistakes that can wreak havoc on your complexion. Read on to learn the biggest ones to avoid and discover some simple tips for clearer, more radiant skin.

Top skincare mistakes that damage your skin

Using the same moisturizer twice a day–or moisturizing only once

Sometimes simplicity in your routine can be a good thing. But make sure you’re properly moisturizing. This typically means using two different moisturizers: one in the morning and one at night.

“Optimizing your skincare routine means tailoring it to your skin’s needs, which can change based on the time of day,” says Dr. Ahmad Chaudhry, board-certified dermatologist of Scandinavian Biolabs. “For instance, a lightweight, non-greasy moisturizer with SPF can be great for daytime use, while a richer, more nourishing one may be beneficial at night.”

If you must use only one moisturizer, choose a dual-purpose variety with SPF–and apply it twice a day. Wearing SPF at night won’t hurt, and you’ll still be giving your skin adequate moisture. “If you only moisturize once a day, you might miss out on the opportunity to support your skin’s natural repair processes that happen while you sleep,” Dr. Chaudhry warns.

A note about sunscreen: some studies show that moisturizers containing SPF still aren’t as effective as wearing an actual sunscreen–namely because many people don’t evenly cover their face and eyes. So you may still want to use sunscreen over your moisturizer during the day to protect yourself.

Switching cosmetic products too frequently

If you find yourself constantly swayed by cosmetics commercials and rushing to the skin clinic for the latest products, it’s time to rethink your approach. 

“Consistency is key when it comes to skincare,” Dr. Chaudhry says. “When you frequently switch products, you don’t allow your skin the time it needs to adjust and show results. Plus, if you have a reaction, it becomes difficult to pinpoint the culprit.”

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Changing products too often can also disrupt your skin’s natural balance, leading to irritation, sensitivity, and breakouts. Dr. Chaudhry recommends giving a product at least six to eight weeks to see results before deciding if it’s working for your skin. 

And if you do decide to switch at this point, try implementing one new product at a time to more accurately gauge how your skin responds.

Using harsh, chemical-laden products

One of the biggest skincare mistakes to avoid is using harsh, chemical-laden products. “Using products filled with harsh chemicals can disrupt [the skin’s] natural balance, leading to issues like dryness, irritation, and even premature aging,” Dr. Chaudhry says. 

So if you’re struggling with dryness, fine lines, or redness, check your product labels for ingredients like alcohol, ethanol, or even retinyl acetate, a form of vitamin A that can be irritating for many people.

Furthermore, to protect your health, check labels for preservatives, thickeners, and solvents like parabens, phthalates, and polyethylene. These chemicals can enter the body and cause serious health problems like cancer and hormone disruption over time. Skin is our largest organ, and it absorbs a portion of whatever we put onto it–as much as 64%, according to one study. 

Opt for natural formulations with ingredients like essential oils, botanical extracts, and antioxidants like vitamins C and E. These ingredients work in harmony with your skin, providing essential nutrients and hydration without as much risk of adverse reactions.

“Just remember, natural doesn’t always mean better or safer,” Dr. Chaudhry says. Read labels carefully, and get familiar with ingredients by searching for them in the EWG Skin Deep database. 

And always do a patch test if you have sensitive skin and are unsure how it will react to a new product.

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Only cleansing once

A single cleanse may not be enough to thoroughly dissolve and eliminate all traces of makeup, which can lead to clogged pores and other skin issues. By incorporating double-cleansing–which simply means cleansing twice–into your routine, you ensure that every layer of makeup is properly removed, allowing your skin to breathe, preventing potential breakouts. 

Start with an oil cleanser or balm to dissolve makeup, followed by a gentle water-based cleanser to remove any remaining impurities. Cleansers containing moisturizing ingredients like hyaluronic acid can be helpful if you have dry skin. If your skin is more oily, use a mild foamy cleanser with salicylic acid. This will help unclog pores without irritating them.

This two-step process guarantees a fresh, clean canvas for the rest of your skincare regimen, promoting healthier, clearer skin.

Exfoliating too much–or not enough

Exfoliation is a key step in achieving a fresh, radiant complexion, but it’s important to strike the right balance. 

Over-exfoliating can harm your skin by compromising its natural barrier, leading to dryness, sensitivity, irritation, or even micro-tears and scarring in the outer layer of skin. This can cause a rebound effect, triggering excess sebum production and resulting in clogged pores and breakouts. 

On the other hand, not exfoliating enough leaves your skin to its natural shedding process, which takes anywhere from 28 to 40 days. This can mean increased premature aging signs like rough skin texture, sun spots, expression lines, and/or loss of elasticity. 

You can use gentle options like fruit enzyme treatments or mild physical exfoliators (scrubs, preferably with small beads) once or twice a week. Or choose a gentle chemical exfoliator containing glycolic or lactic acid, and use once a week or more often, depending on the concentration.

Not removing makeup before bed

One of the most detrimental skincare mistakes you can make is sleeping in your makeup. 

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“Leaving makeup on overnight is akin to marinating your skin in a mix of oil, dirt, and environmental pollutants,” Dr. Chaudhry warns. “It can lead to clogged pores, breakouts, and even premature aging.” This is because sleeping in your makeup prevents your skin from breathing and regenerating properly, hindering its natural repair process. Over time, this can contribute to fine lines, wrinkles, and a lackluster complexion. 

“Regardless of how tired you might be, always cleanse your face thoroughly before bed,” Dr. Chaudhry says. 

More healthy skin tips

Here are a few extra tips to consider for healthy and glowing skin.

Drink enough water

Dehydration can lead to dry skin, so make sure you’re drinking enough fluids and avoiding excessive exposure to sun and dry weather conditions, as well as alcoholic beverages. 

Pay attention to water temperature when cleansing

When washing your face, opt for lukewarm water instead of hot. Cleansing skin with hot water can strip your skin of vital oils and damage its barrier function.

Humidify for hydration

Consider using a humidifier in your home. Humidifiers add moisture to the air, helping to combat dryness, which can help support natural bodily functions for a supple and radiant complexion.

Get your beauty sleep

A good night’s sleep is crucial for maintaining healthy and glowing skin. Studies show that not getting enough sleep can increase signs of aging and diminish skin barrier function. So prioritize quality sleep to support your skin in looking and feeling its best.

Healthy, glowing skin requires knowledge and discipline. By avoiding common skincare mistakes like using the same moisturizer day and night, switching products excessively, neglecting double cleansing, over- or under-exfoliating, and overlooking hydration and sleep, you can unlock the secret to a radiant complexion.



Carrie Solomon

Carrie Solomon is a freelance health writer, web copywriter, and passionate wellness enthusiast. She’s on a mission to help wellness-focused companies everywhere educate, engage, and inspire their audiences to make the world a healthier, happier place. Learn more about her at or on LinkedIn.

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