Marie Claire is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn commission on some of the items you choose to buy.
It can take time to properly curate a successful skincare routine. Firstly, you have to identify your skin type, then you need to figure out which ingredients you should be using and finally, you have the find the right products to suit your skin’s needs (as well as your budget’s).
Once you’ve got to that point, you think you have it nailed. But sometimes your skin has other plans and refuses to play ball. We recently spoke with two of London’s top dermatologists and they revealed the skincare mistakes that continue to see people make. Keep scrolling, as you might just find some that ring true for you. And you never know correcting a few little bad habits here and there will improve your skin today and beyond.
Common skincare mistakes
1. Not cleansing your face before you go to bed
Whilst going to bed with a full face of make-up might be considered sacrilege to some, it’s not the case it would seem for others. Dr Stephanie Williams, a cosmetic dermatologist and founder of EUDELO Dermatology & Skin Wellbeing Clinic, still sees people who don’t consider cleansing one of the golden rules of skincare.
‘I can’t stress strongly enough how important proper cleansing is to our daily skincare programme,’ she says. ‘Even more so in the evening, as cleansing not only removes dirt, old makeup, excess oil, and dead skin cells but also removes pollution remnants from the skin. Urban pollution is known to generate free radicals, cause inflammation and deplete antioxidant defences in the skin.’
Not cleansing also increases your chances of getting spots, so if you’re prone to a breakout it’s even more important that you are cleansing your skin at night.
Balance Me Pre and Probiotic Cleansing Milk, £20 | Lookfantastic
Suitable for all skin types, this cleansing milk removes make-up, SPF and pollution. It also strengthens the skin’s microbiome, soothes irritation and leaves the skin feeling hydrated.
Delo Rx Hybrid Cleanser, £85
‘This deep-pore cleansing facial cleanser contains anti-blemish, soothing and anti-ageing ingredients which are powerful, yet gentle enough for more sensitive skin,’ explains Dr Williams. ‘The Delo Rx Hybrid Cleanser contains the highest concentration of active ingredients of any cleanser on the market – 31.5% active ingredients (plus gentle wash-active substances), and contains QuinCleanse™, a symbiotic ingredient blend with beta hydroxy acid, antioxidants, and calming ingredients.’
2. Picking spots
‘As someone who suffers from acne I know how hard it is to leave your skin alone when you experience a breakout,’ admits Dr Anjali Mahto, consultant dermatologist and author of The Skincare Bible. But she warns against fiddling with your blemishes, as it creates a higher risk of scarring and infection. ‘I often advise patients to distract themselves if they feel like they’re going to pick at their skin. Applying a topical spot cream can help too – look for ones with ingredients like salicylic acid and azelaic acid.’
Paula’s Choice 10% Azelaic Acid Booster, £8
The £8 version of this booster gets you a small travel-sized tube, but for localised application onto spots, it’s all you really need. The punchy amount of azelaic acid (which has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties) reduces the size, redness and anger of any spots.
Origins Super Spot Remover Blemish Treatment Gel, £17 | Lookfantastic
If you have one of those annoying under-the-skin angry red spots, apply a couple of dabs of this and overnight all of the gunk will have come out to the surface. It’s actually pretty magical. Keep applying and the salicylic acid inside will help calm it down and slowly reduce the size.
3. Overusing silicone derivatives in skincare
You’ve probably heard some beauty experts talking about silicones and how we must avoid them at all costs. But that can be quite hard to do if you don’t know what to look for. ‘There is a trend in skincare to overload skincare products with silicone derivatives such as dimethicone and cyclomethicone,’ explains Dr Williams. The reason is that silicones create that lovely feel to a product, the non-sticky, silky-to-the-touch feeling. ‘This is a really bad idea in my professional opinion. Silicones build a thin film on top of your skin and ‘fill up’ pores (a bit like Polyfilla for a hole in the wall), in order to minimise the appearance of pores. And while this may make your skin feel good, it clogs pores and encourages congestion and breakouts.’
Take a look at a product’s inkey list (the ingredients list on the back of the packaging) and look out for words like these: dimethicone, cyclomethicone, Cyclopentasiloxane and cyclohexasiloxane.
4. Avoiding SPF or not reapplying
We’re torn with this one, because on one side we’re quite surprised that this is still a common skincare mistake that people are still making, and yet we’re also not surprised. Olay recently conducted a survey that revealed that one in 10 adults believe they’re too young to wear SPF daily, a fifth of Brits believe that UV rays can actually help you look younger and a further fifth of people admit to only wear SPF when it’s sunny.
‘Many people assume that SPF is only required when the weather is extremely hot,’ says Dr Williams. ‘and we need to protect ourselves from being burnt. However, if you want to slow down skin ageing, daily SPF is vital. Up to 80% of visible skin ageing is caused by UV rays. Sun damage is a cumulative process. Right from childhood, our skin clocks up all those hours of sun exposure. Skin does not forget.’
In short, UVA rays cause ageing as they’re able to penetrate deeper into the skin. UVB rays cause burning and can even get you through windows and clouds. However, both are linked to skin cancer, so you need good protection from both on a daily basis.
The other mistake lots of us are making is failing to top up our sun protection throughout the day. ‘There’s a tendency for people to think that if they’ve put factor 50 on first thing in the morning, that it’s enough to cover them for a considerable amount of time,’ Dr Mahto adds. ‘This isn’t the case. Especially when on holiday or on particularly hot and sunny days here in the UK. Sunscreen needs to be reapplied every 2-3 hours and especially after getting out of the pool/sea. There’s no magic answer for how to get people to do this more frequently I’m afraid.’ Dr Mahto suggests potentially setting a timer on your phone or have a look at our guide to the best SPF to apply over make-up.
Olay Regenerist Collagen Peptide24 Day Cream SPF30, £38 | Boots
This brilliant day cream, which promises visibly stronger and glowier skin within 14 days, is the ideal way to introduce SPF into your routine without adding any extra steps. This is a really good SPF moisturiser, with both protective benefits, as well as anti-ageing.
5. Trying too many new products at once
We’re all guilty of this. After a fairly hefty shopping spree at Space NK, you can’t wait to get home and try out all of your buys at once. ‘With the plethora of skincare products available and the rise of influencer culture where individuals can be seen using endless products in a day/evening routine, it’s led to a lot of my patients experiencing FOMO,’ explains Dr Mahto. ‘They too start to introduce too many products into their routine which can lead to overuse and manifest in skin issues.’
Recently Dr Mahto had a patient who had been using too many punchy actives on her skin after watching skincare routines on TikTok. The result? The person had developed perioral dermatitis, which presents itself as a red, scaly and dry rash around the mouth. The patient’s skin barrier was compromised and in need of some serious microbiome-friendly skincare. ‘My advice is to keep your skincare routine streamlined and simple,’ she says. ‘Most skin types will benefit from a good basic cleanser, moisturiser and vitamin A product.’