Perfect skin is at the top of just about every woman's wish list, but despite all the information we get from friends, media, salespeople and even dermatologists, many of us still lack the flawless complexion we crave.
Despite best efforts, even the most well-informed among us make simple mistakes that keep us from clear, dewy skin. Many skin-care errors are a result of misinformation, not lack of commitment to perfection, says Jennifer Fifer, owner of Tru Skin Clinical Spa in Manhattan.
Luckily for us, she pinpoints nine skin-care blunders that can be easily avoided.
What's in your cleanser? Fifer says women often buy high-end exfoliating products and moisturizers, but don't pay attention to what’s actually in them. Choose products with few chemicals, she advises. Avoid those containing SD-40, isopropyl alcohol, a common ingredient that can be an irritant for acne-prone and senstive skin types, leading to redness, dryness, and in some cases, brown spots and premature aging.
Speaking of exfoliating, don't overdo it, says Fifer. Many products today have alpha hydroxy acids to combat wrinkles and fine lines, but if you mix-and-match too often — for example, an acid-based moisturizer in the morning and an exfoliating cream at night — you run the risk of inflaming your skin. Don’t pick at your blemishes. Hands off, says Fifer. "You'll end up with a bigger problem because you break down the follicle wall, allowing bacteria to spread." Use a sulfur mask to bring down the swelling, she says.
Surprisingly, women with dry skin should avoid overmoisturizing, so don’t spackle on cream or heavy moisturizers. “It causes more congestion in the long run,” says Fifer. "Women would do better to invest in a good humidifier instead, especially if they live in a dry climate."
"Women believe that when they drink water it moisturizes the skin. It does help carry oxygen to the skin, but don’t rely on it for moisture," says Fifer. Instead, consider what you're eating — or not eating — and add some good fat to your diet. "Essential fatty acids, like what you'd get from eating an avocado, help skin glow."
While overexposure to the sun ages skin, many protective products can cause another issue — acne. Fifer suggests looking for sunblock that contains zinc and titanium, which protect without clogging pores.
You fall asleep with your makeup on, what's the big deal? "Never, never, never!" says Fifer. Even if it's only a rare occurrence, the problems can cascade into your complexion for a week. To avoid a skin-care nightmare, be sure to wash your face before you head to bed.
Don't skimp on sleep. "Skin repairs itself at night," says Fifer. "If you're routinely sleep-deprived, your complexion will show it." Get the beauty sleep you deserve and you'll wake up to better skin.
When was the last time you threw out your make up? Don't hang on to beauty products if you don't use them frequently. Since your fingers are usually your applicator, bacteria build up fast in bottles and in makeup sponges, then end up on your face. As a rule of thumb, Fifer suggestions tossing foundation out after six months.