Common Beauty Habits That Could Inadvertently Be Harming Your Skin

Photo: Getty Images/ Carol Yepes
The skin is a complex organ with main character energy when it comes to regulating your health. “Although many think of it through just a cosmetic lens, the reality is that our skin is playing a number of vital functions in our overall well-being,” says board-certified dermatologist Erum N. Ilyas, MD, CEO and founder of AmberNoon. “When I counsel my patients on taking care of their skin, it’s not just about how it looks, but also about understanding skin, its roles and why we need to care for it,” Dr. Ilyas adds. This includes understanding (and avoiding) beauty habits that harm skin such as not washing off makeup before bed or keeping beauty products past their prime.

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There are, however, a few common habits that could be harming your skin and causing issues like excessive dryness, acne flare-ups, redness, dark spots, and more that Dr. Ilyas doesn’t think most people are aware they’re doing. Below she notes which steps of your beauty routine you want to skip or rethink moving forward.

4 beauty habits that harm skin to stop doing asap

1. Over-exfoliating

Prepping skin before makeup is an important part in any beauty routine, and people often exfoliate to give themselves the smoothest, glowiest canvas possible as part of the process. But Dr. Ilyas cautions agains exfoliating too often (more than a couple times per week) or too intensely as it can damage your skin. “I have had cases where patients have been so aggressive with facial scrubbing brushes and mechanical devices that they actually developed impetigo, an infection with staph bacteria, as a result,” she says.

Dr. Ilyas recommends sugar or apricot scrubs, or other sugar-based or granule-based and non-chemical containing options, which are easiest and gentlest on the skin and gentler for more regular use.

2. Rubbing in under-eye concealer incorrectly

While applying creams to the skin under the eyes, the most common mistake made is not recognizing the delicate fluid balance in the skin. “There can be an accumulation of fluid in the soft tissue under the eyes from allergies or other triggers, and gravity leads to this fluid lingering in the skin under the eyes,” says Dr. Ilyas. As a result, there is a “ballooning” of the skin.

“When applying creams, taking a moment to start centrally at the nose and massage outwards can help move the fluid back into the lymphatics to reduce swelling under the eyes,” she says. Also, avoiding abrasive or harsh products under the eyes is important. “If this delicate skin is irritated, it can become dry and cracked and result in a darker appearance,” she explains.

3. Applying beauty and skin products out of order

The order in which you apply products should be dictated by their role in your skincare routine as well as the nature of the product itself. “If you’re using medicated products, apply those first, as they need to be in direct contact with the skin’s layer to be most effective, and then, other products are layered based on the thickness of the product or the size of the molecule,” she says.

As a rule of thumb, go from thickest to thinnest. “Serums tend to need to be applied before lotions or creams to allow these lightweight products to enter the superficial layers of the skin and thicker products will seal these in to make them work more effectively,” she adds. Once you’re full skin-care routine is finished then you can move on to make up.

4. Not repairing skin after using fake eyelashes

“When it comes to fake eyelashes, the weight of the product and the adhesive or method of application can lead to irritation of the eyelid skin,” says Dr. Ilyas.

As with most extensions or products applied to our skin through an adhesive method, it is important to care for the skin carefully after each use. “The skin needs to repair itself from the abrasive and irritating quality of these products, and using a petrolatum based product or vitamin E can help nourish the skin after removal,” she says.

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