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Confession Time: The Biggest Skincare Mistakes I've Made

Tanning on beachOkay, friends, here’s the deal: I’ve been writing about skin care for more than five years, working closely with dermatologists, aestheticians, and plastic surgeons, all of whom have given me great insights into the skin and how to treat it. With humility, I consider myself a skin care expert. In other words: I should know better.

Despite that, I’ve made some real mistakes with my skin, both in the past and more recently. Quite frankly, I’ve done some downright stupid stuff. Today, I’m pulling that shame out of the closet and giving you the lowdown on my biggest skin care regrets and mistakes so you don’t have to make those mistakes yourself. Buckle up, folks!

Rolling Over Active Acne

You’ve probably heard of dermal rollers before. These home devices have a little wheel with tiny needles you glide across your skin. They can be great for creating pathways that let your serums and other products reach deeper into your skin.

There’s a cardinal rule with dermal rollers, though: don’t use them if you have active acne. I knew this. I’ve written this and given this advice to others time and time again. And yet, I found myself saying those words that are always a sign of a bad decision: “Eh, I’m sure it’ll be fine.”

Spoiler alert: it wasn’t. A dermal roller can spread the bacteria from your acne throughout your face, making the acne more widespread. That’s exactly what happened, and I wound up spending the next few weeks taking it easy on my skin to get that acne under control.

Instead of making the same mistake, use a set like the Avene Clean-Ac system to get your acne under control first. Then you can enjoy the benefits of a dermal roller.

Tanning

I might be aging myself here, but I grew up in the ‘90s and early 2000s. I experienced middle school and high school in the era of dark tans and pencil-thin eyebrows. Because of that, I wound up in the tanning bed before every school dance and event.

Unfortunately, my skin paid the price. By the time I hit college and came to my senses, I had spots of sun damage making themselves known. I had age spots by the time I was 20.

I eventually wound up getting multiple microdermabrasion treatments and a chemical peel, which significantly lightened the spots but haven’t eliminated them completely. Take it from me: it’s easier to prevent the damage in the first place by staying out of the tanning beds and loving your skin for whatever its natural color may be, and by making a daily sunscreen part of your routine.

Skimping on Sunless Tanner

Despite all those tanning sessions, I knew in the back of my mind that it wasn’t healthy for my skin. Every so often, I tried to go the safer route and use sunless tanner instead.

Sounds smart, right? But I made a critical mistake: I cheaped out. You don’t know regret until you look into a mirror after using a cheap self-tanner and see your orange self looking like one of those plastic food containers that are forever stained with the memory of spaghetti sauce.

I’m all for safe tanning with self-tanning products, but stick with a trusted brand of self-tanner.

Neglecting My Neck

Working in the world of skin care is both a blessing and a curse. On one hand, I get all kinds of insider knowledge and tips from the pros. On the other hand, I tend to be hyper-aware of any issue happening with my skin.

Because of that, I became focused on my early crow’s feet for a while. I switched up my routine and use products to firm the skin in that area.

The good news is that I made great progress and my eyes look younger today than they did years ago. The bad news is that one day I looked in the mirror and noticed my neck was looking…not so sharp.

It’s easy to become so focused on skin care for the face that we forget about our neck, which has just as much power to make you look older. Instead of making the mistake I did, add a simple neck firming cream to your nightly routine.

Skipping Sunscreen for Workouts

I love to workout outside. After spending the entire workday inside, hunched over a computer, it’s so refreshing to get out in the fresh air and move. Granted, that was a lot easier to do before the COVID era, but I digress.

Over the years, though, I’ve made two mistakes. First, I wear roughly the same shape of top every time I work out. Second, I often forget to put on sunscreen before I hit the pavement. That combination has resulted in what appears to be a permanent tan line with the outline of a racerback tank top. It’s not sexy.

By all means, wear whatever you want when you work out, but always put on a sweat-resistant sunscreen before you do. If not, you’ll wind up like me, trying to cram an airbrush tan appointment into my schedule before an upcoming event so I don’t look like I just stepped out of the gym and into a formal gown.

Lesson of the Day: Learn from My Mistakes

You’ll notice a common thread among all those mistakes above: I knew what I should have done, but I did the opposite anyway. Clearly, I have a stubborn streak in me. As they say, though, “do as I say, not as I do.”

Now you have the opportunity to learn from my mistakes and keep your skin as safe, healthy, and gorgeous as it naturally is. Use the knowledge wisely, my fellow skin care buffs!

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