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You’re going to be living in your skin for a long time, so if there’s one thing you really should do, it’s treat it with the respect and TLC it deserves! Skin is amazing, and considering it’s your body’s largest organ – it makes up 15% of your body weight – looking after it is pretty important. We all know there are certain things we shouldn’t do to our skin, but most of the time we do them anyway. Well, we’re here to tell you why these five things are some of the worst things you can do to your skin, and what you should be doing, so your skin can be the best it possibly can. Here’re five things you really need to avoid:

1. Over-Exfoliating

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Exfoliating is amazing for your skin; it removes dead skin cells that clog your pores and lead to blackheads and pimples! But there is such a thing as over-exfoliating – done too vigorously, you can end up scratching the surface of your skin’s protective barrier, leaving it open to infection and exposure to environmental toxins. So, finding the right balance is key.

To make sure you don’t over exfoliate, avoid applying too much pressure and use an exfoliator with gentle, small granules, which won’t be too abrasive on your skin. If you have dry or sensitive skin, we recommend exfoliating once a week, for normal and combo skin twice a week, and for oily and combination skin up to three times a week. We like the gentle but effective Micro Magic Skin Renewing Microdermabrasion Scrub by Bliss, $15, for dry to combo skin types, and the Sand & Sky Flash Perfection Exfoliating Treatment Mask, $32, for oily skin, which combines Australian pink clay to refine pores, while fruit acids clear out debris from deep in your pores.

Always exfoliate after you’ve thoroughly cleansed your skin, and use warm water, never hot. Check out our full guide to exfoliating here.

2. Popping, Picking, and Rubbing

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Our skin does such an amazing job of protecting us, that sometimes we forget how fragile it is and how careful we need to be with it. We all know we shouldn’t pick at our skin, but the truth is when we get a giant zit, most of us just can’t help squeezing it. But the more you push and pick at your zit, the more inflammation you create underneath. Not to mention, all the bacteria from your fingertips is now all over your skin, and it’s now going to penetrate that hole you just made on your face, making it more likely for the pimple to come back, possibly even more inflamed than before.

Popping a cyst is even worse, and should never be done! Dermatologist, Dr. Doris Day, explained to us that “What differentiates a pimple from a cyst is that a cyst has a true lining. We can shrink cysts, but they’re still there and can regrow.” If you have a cyst you can’t bear to leave alone, let your dermatologist deal with it, because trying to pop it can only make it worse.

Finally, try to be gentle with your skin! Think of it like a baby; gently pat it dry – if you rub too hard you’re just tugging your skin, which ultimately results in wrinkles and sagging skin. Rubbing your eyes too hard, either when you’re taking off your makeup or just because you’re tired, will also tug at the delicate skin, making fine lines and wrinkles more likely.

3. Not Protecting Your Skin

Okay, so you probably know you’re meant to wear sunscreen daily, but do you know why? If you don’t know why, chances are you probably don’t bother with SPF, but we’re here to tell you why it’s SO essential! The sun is responsible for 90% of how your skin ages – yes, genetics play a part, but so does sunblock!

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If you don’t believe is check out this case study on the effect of sun on these identical twins: both are aged 61, but Susan on the right smokes and likes to spend as much time in the sun as possible (and as she lives in Florida, that’s almost all the time!). Her sister, Jeanne (left), spends as little time in the sun as possible, and just look how much younger she looks – she has no dark spots, no deep wrinkles, and her skin is much plumper. This is because the sun destroys collagen, which causes skin sagging and wrinkles, and UV rays trigger melanin (pigment) production, aka dark spots. Not to mention that sunblock also helps to protect your skin from cancer-causing UV rays.

Look for a facial SPF that has minimum factor 30 SPF, and a UVA rating of 4-star or higher (or PA++++). The SPF protects against UVB rays that burn the skin, while UVA (or PA) protects against UVA rays that penetrate deeper into the skin and destroy collagen – both are essential! Sun cream should be the last product applied in your skincare routine, and if you’re in the sun, you should reapply every 2 hours. Check out our fav sunscreens that won’t ruin your makeup or your skin, and make sure you don’t believe any of these SPF myths!

4. Forgetting About Your Neck and Eyes

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If you’ve read our five skincare rules, you’ll know exactly how to take care of your face, but what people so often neglect is their eye cream and continuing their routine down their neck. Crow’s feet and a neck are some of the most obvious signs of aging, so even if your face is looking flawless, if you’ve forgotten about your neck, it will be a serious giveaway of your age. Continue your entire skincare regime down your neck; this means double cleansing your neck as well – we often add bronzer here to make sure we don’t have any foundation lines – toning, and moisturizing. Make sure you’re gentle and massage in upward motions so that you’re not pulling the skin downward, which is precisely where you don’t want your skin to go!

The skin under our eyes is the most delicate on our entire bodies and needs plenty of hydration and nourishment, not just to prevent fine lines,  but to help get rid of dark circles and puffiness. Check out our fav eye cream dupes for bright eyes here.

5. Using the Same Products Forever

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You may have found a moisturizer that is THE DREAM, but sadly, it’s a love affair that can’t last forever. Eventually, your skin will change and adapt to any active ingredients in your product, so that over time, they become less effective. Not to mention your skin changes, so what worked for it a year or two ago, might no longer be the right product. It’s important to know your skin type and constantly reevaluate your skin (every six months) because there are so many things that can affect it; from your hormones and environment to your stress-levels and age.

You should also consider switching up your skincare routine as the seasons change. For winter, hydration is vital, while for summer, you may need to switch up your heavy winter creams for something more lightweight, like a gel moisturizer, and of course, stronger SPF – in summer we like to use factor 50 SPF with a UVA 5-star rating. Check out how you should be switching up your skincare routine for summer here.

Then, of course, there’s the basic skin faux pas’. Make sure you don’t forget about these:

  • Never sleep in your makeup, always double cleanse before bed!
  • Wash your makeup brushes once a week and wash your makeup sponge every time you use it!
  • Get your beauty sleep – it’s called that for a reason  at night is when your skin does the majority of its repair work!
  • Never forget to moisturize, your skin needs it – just make sure you’re using the right moisturizer for your skin type!