Growing up, I used to emulate my mom in terms of a beauty routine. I’d swipe on lipstick and think that was the most glamorous of all. As a teen, I copied my peers, shellacking on lip gloss and baby-blue eyeshadow. Now—as a mature, skin-care loving adult—my beauty regimen has been streamlined after years of trial and error—but, most importantly, after learning a lot from dermatologists.
Every time I get to talk or meet with a derm, I immediately pull out my recorder and hold onto every single word of advice they dole out. I’m even kinda starstruck by them, since I look up to derms as the true heroes and scientists behind healthy skin—so whenever I get the chance, I ask them as many questions as humanly possible in the time I have with them.
The topic on my mind as of late? Things that dermatologists would absolutely never do to their skin. Clearly, judging by my own skin-care history (chock-full of over-exfoliation, product saturation, and harsh irritants), I’m so curious to hear the experts’ own mistakes, along with common skin-care practices that they’d never do to their own complexions. And so: These are the three habits you should never incorporate into your own beauty routine, according to derms.
1. Pick zits
This is one you’ve probably heard often, but it remains a skin-care staple: Do not pick your pimples. “I’d never pick at a zit!” says Adarsh Vijay Mudgil, MD, dermatologist and founder of Mudgil Dermatology in New York. “It’s the absolute worst thing you can do. You’re asking for a scar and pigmentation issues, guaranteed. Your best bet is to let it be, or see your board certified dermatologist for a cortisone shot.” Loretta Ciraldo, MD, FAAD, another dermatologist and founder of Dr. Loretta Skincare says by-and-large this is the biggest mistake you can make. “I’d never, ever pick at a breakout or pimple,” she tells me. “If you’re ever tempted to do this, talk yourself out of it! Picking can convert a pimple into a stain or, worse yet, a true scar that takes at least six months to a year to fade.”
2. Lay in the sun or a tanning bed
You may have stopped tanning, but if not, know that dermatologists are very against the practice. “I would never use a tanning bed—ever,” says Cybele Fishman, MD, a New York-based dermatologist. “I never have, I am proud to say. Melanoma is the number one most common cancer in women 25 to 29; it has increased in incidence, likely because of UVA tanning beds use, which are proven to increase melanoma risk by as much as 59 percent. ” She adds that it ages your skin as well, due to all the damage it’s doing via the rays. “I would also never do indoor tanning, for obvious reasons,” echoes Shirley Chi, MD, a California-based dermatologist. And, don’t forget—rays from the real sun are damaging, too, so always wear sunscreen.
3. Get a steam facial
I used to think that if I held my face over the steam sprouting up from boiling water, it would open my pores and beautify my skin. But, according to derms, steam facials—and everything involving steam and your skin—is not as glamorous and glow-inducing as you’d think. “I would never do a steam facial,” says Dr. Chi. “The heat and steam cause inflammation in the skin and opens up the blood vessels, which can lead to redness and rosacea.” Consider me schooled.