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5 Skincare Mistakes To Stop Right Now

Written by Katie Hintz-Zambrano

Photography by Photo Via Isa FYI

Thanks to the incredibly lax standards of the multi-billion-dollar industry, there’s a lot of misinformation floating out there when it comes to skincare and beauty. Which means products and practices branded as safe and effective are oftentimes not. To help cut through all of the BS, we turn to Kimmy Pigliucci of AES in San Francisco, a skin-saving clinic dedicated to transforming the faces of acne-sufferers (we can attest, she’s really that good!). Below, Pigliucci shares some of her wisdom when it comes to five common skincare mistakes that so many of us make…and can stop making today.

1. Using physical exfoliants
“All of us can benefit from the brightening and clearing benefits of exfoliation in our skincare regimens, but if you want real results, ditch the scrubs and exfoliating brushes. These exfoliants mechanically remove dead surface skin cells, so they are basically useless for skin conditions like acne, wrinkles, and discoloration that are the result of processes occurring well beneath the surface of the skin. Not to mention that you can get just about as much use from scrubbing your face with a toothbrush, and for a lot cheaper. Instead, stick with an organic pregnancy- and breastfeeding-safe chemical exfoliant like mandelic acid or lactic acid, which penetrates into the deeper layers of the skin and hits dull, bumpy, uneven skin where it hurts.”

2. Pimple popping
“You have probably heard that touching your pimples is bad. And it’s not just because it spreads germs and makes pimples worse. Picking—or ‘helping’ as some pickers like to call it—is a big skin no-no, mainly because it increases the chances of lasting dark marks and scars. Next time you feel tempted to pop a pimple, step away from the mirror and apply ice directly to the area for a few minutes, followed with a thin layer of 5% benzoyl peroxide cream at night to reduce symptoms of inflammation, like redness and swelling.”

3. Skipping SPF
“If you think that SPF is only for beach days, you better like having saggy, discolored skin, because that is what you have to look forward to. The visible effects of sun damage don’t just come from laying by the pool on summer vacation. In fact, much of the sun damage that shows up later on in life comes from the accumulation of little bits of sun exposure you get from mundane routines like driving the kids to school or walking to grab lunch. And don’t think you’re safe just because you work indoors or live where it’s foggy outside—UV rays penetrate glass, water, and fog. Basically, if you are breathing, you can expect that you are being exposed to UV damage. To prevent the not-so-pretty effects, as well as skin cancer dangers, wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen everyday that has at least SPF30, and reapply every 2 hours when exposed to direct sunlight.”

4. Using products that sting and burn
“Stinging is not a sign of a skincare product working. Our bodies sense discomfort for a reason and your skin is no different. So, if your face hurts while applying a product or after, stop using it and listen to what your skin is trying to tell you. We often feel stinging when our skin is poorly moisturized, weak from sun damage, or the product is too strong. To keep your skin fit enough to tolerate stronger products and reap their benefits, wear SPF everyday, moisturize morning and night, and introduce active products into your regimen gradually to give your skin time to adjust before using it daily.”

5. Obsessively washing your face
“Washing your face is an essential part of your regimen, but it’s not even close to being the most important. Washing your face more than twice or three times a day is likely to do nothing more than strip the moisture off of your skin. The primary benefit of cleansing is that it removes surface oils and makeup and allows the active products that can actually penetrate the skin to absorb most efficiently. If you are washing your face obsessively to get rid of acne-causing dirt or sweat, it won’t work because sweat and dirt don’t actually cause acne. If you want to clear debris out of the follicle, use a serum or a cream-based product that stays on the skin and is able to affect the deeper layers where conditions like acne form.”

For more advice on fighting acne—before, during, and after pregnancy—check out Pigliucci’s tips here.

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