4 Skin Rules That’ll Make The Biggest Difference (+ What Not To Do)

Expert Advice
@brownskinderm I love educating on #tiktok but sometimes, y’all try it lol #skintok #skincare #skincarehacks #skincaretips #skintok #dermatologist #brownskinderm #pocskincare #pocskin #skincarertiktok #listengenz #genzskincare ♬ original sound – Anna Bham🦋

Let’s be real, Instagram and TikTok have opened our eyes to a whole lot of education on hundreds of topics that we’ve never had access to before. It’s also a hotbed for misinformation/ just incredibly overwhelming to digest everything on there, especially when everyone seems to have different opinions. That’s why when it comes to getting info we trust, we head straight to derm pages and trust them beyond anyone else – our ultimate beauty BAEs.

We connected with the brilliant Dr. Adeline Kikam, DO, Msc, FAAD, Board-Certified Dermatologist and Founder of Brown Skin Derm™ to make sure you guys are getting your facts straight (with zero extra work on your hands). So here to share the need to know, the brilliant Dr. Kikam tells us four skin habits that make THE biggest difference to your skin, plus the biggest skincare mistakes you could be making!

4 Skin Rules That Make the Biggest Difference

1. Make Sunscreen a Habit

“Regardless of skin tone, the sun’s ultraviolet radiation can really impact skin adversely when it comes to premature aging (it’s responsible for up to 90% of premature aging), hyperpigmentation, sunburns, and even skin cancer. One of the healthiest and aesthetically-motivated things you can do to your skin is to start wearing sunscreen very early in your life and to remain consistent,” Dr. Kikam tells us. And we have to say, you might not see the difference now, but best believe in 10 years, you’ll be grateful you followed her advice.

Dr. Kikam likes the Venus Williams Unrivaled Sun Serum 35 SPF, $50, which she tells us doesn’t leave a white cast on darker skin types. She also loves that it’s “lightweight and fragrance-free, which is great for all skin types, especially those with sensitive skin types with conditions like rosacea, acne, and eczema.”

@brownskinderm #sunscreen #tipsandtricks #skincare101 #beautyhack #skincareroutine #skincare #dermdoctor #spf #sunprotection #skincancerawareness #eltamdskincare ♬ SADE – Sarz & WurlD

2. Start Retinoids in Your Mid 20s

If sunscreen is the best for preventing signs of aging, then retinoids are its equivalent for reversing any signs that do appear. Dr. Kikam says, “Retinoids are the gold standard anti-aging ingredient after sunscreen. Over 50 years of clinical data exist to back up claims. Retinoids increase collagen production, delay fine lines and wrinkles, have anti-acne properties, and support the improvement of discoloration. It’s best to start retinoids in your mid-20s when collagen decline starts.”

If you’re wondering where to start, we love the Versed Press Restart Gentle Retinol Serum, $22, which is gentle but effective. Check out our guide to using retinoids here.

3. Exfoliation is a Must

“Exfoliation promotes faster skin turnover, which helps get rid of excess melanin and improves skin discoloration or uneven skin tone. It is a major remedy against dull skin, which tends to happen more as we grow older and skin renewal slows down. Exfoliation helps brighten skin and makes our skincare products work more efficiently,” Dr. Kikam explains. She also points out that because it removes the buildup of dead skin cells, it also allows skincare ingredients to be better absorbed. We love the WISHFUL Yo Glow Enzyme Scrub, $39, which gently exfoliates with enzymes, AHAs and BHAs, and cellulose (a super soft physical exfoliator that comes from plant cells).

4. Be Consistent

And above all else, Dr. Kikam stresses that “All the above rules are great, but unless you are consistent in your implementation of them, then you will not see the results. I can’t stress enough how important this is.” We have to agree – patience is the biggest virtue here. Take retinol, for example, it takes consistent use over months to start seeing results.

And as important as it is to have skincare rules to follow, it’s also really important to know what to avoid…

The Biggest Skincare Mistakes

1. Not Using Sunscreen

And just in case it really wasn’t clear, we’re reminding you about sunscreen again! Dr. Kikam insists that “Sunscreen is for everyone, including people with darker skin tones who tend to struggle most with discoloration. The sun is the major culprit in not only causing but worsening existing discoloration. The sun also breaks down collagen and elastin, leading to skin laxity, fine lines, wrinkles, and skin cancer.”

2. Using too many active ingredients at the same time

“Retinol, chemical exfoliants (like your glycolic and salicylic acids), as well antioxidants, like vitamin C, are powerhouse ingredients in skincare that can refine skin, brighten, firm, and even skin tone, but overuse can be detrimental. It’s important to control the frequency of use and how you layer all these ingredients. Using them all together, especially at high concentrations, can cause redness, peeling, burning, and destruction of the skin’s protective barrier,” Dr. Kikam explains.

And sadly, we know this to be true; we’ve done this to ourselves in our quest to review products for the blog, and more is definitely not better. So space out your actives and don’t use them altogether in the same routine. Check out the technique of skin-cycling to see how you can rotate your products effectively without causing irritation.

3. Not giving skincare products enough time to work

“Another very common mistake is not giving your skin care products enough time to work. It takes roughly 28 days to start seeing some initial results of your skincare ingredients. Set reasonable expectations but more importantly, be patient for results because it’s a marathon, not a sprint with skincare.”

4. Comparing “#SkinGoals”

And last but not least, Dr. Kikam advises us that “Everyone’s skin needs are different and influenced by different factors, ranging from genetics to lifestyle and more. Build a skincare routine based on your unique skin needs, not anybody else’s, and don’t be too quick to expect the same results or compare your skin to others.”

One other thing Dr. Kikam reminds us of is that “Skincare is not a one size fits all; it’s impossible to find products that will suit every skin type and skin tone.” So next time you see your fave influencer recommending a product, be wary that it might not necessarily work for you.

However, in case you were hoping for a few reccos from the derm herself, Dr. Kikam does tell us, “there are a few that I love because they are mostly suitable for most skin types and inclusive of skin tones.” A few of her faves include:

Cerave Renewing SA Cleanser with salicylic acid, $11

“It’s suitable for all skin types because it’s very gently formulated. If you have oily, acne-prone skin that is sensitive, or just sensitive skin in general, and are worried about using exfoliants that may irritate it, then check out this salicylic acid cleanser. It combines salicylic acid along with moisture-barrier-replenishing ingredients like ceramides and hyaluronic acid. It brightens dull skin, helps unclog pores, and reduces excess oil to skin.”

Nécessaire The Body Exfoliator, $38

“I absolutely love this cleanser and use it quite often myself. It combines a blend of AHA/BHA that includes glycolic, lactic, and salicylic acids, as well as bamboo charcoal – an exfoliant – so you get the best of both worlds. It is great for sloughing dead skin and unclogging pores to brighten dry, dull, blemished skin.”

SkinMedica Instant Bright Eye Cream, $92

“This a very effective serum packed with evidence-based ingredients such as resorcinol, a potent depigmenting agent, hyaluronic acid to plump under-eye skin, and caffeine to help vasoconstriction and decrease under-eye puffiness aimed at reducing the appearance of dark under-eye circles.”

Are any of you guilty of making some of these mistakes? Make sure to follow Dr. Kikam on her Instagram and TikTok to stay in the know and get all her top skin and hair tips.

Disclaimer: Every product we review has been independently selected and tested without bias by our editorial team. We never take payment to review products, although some brands allow affiliate links, so we may earn a commission if you purchase a product by clicking on one of our links.