Brit & Co: 4 Skincare Mistakes you’re probably making, according to an esthetician

Jul 2, 2024
skincare mistakes

You've finally found a beauty routine that seems like it's working, but would you believe me if I said it's possible you're still making skincare mistakes? I know, it's frustrating when you can't figure out why you're seeing acne again even though you haven't deviated from the products you've been using day in and day out.

It's not that our skin is intentionally fickle and loves to throw us for a loop every chance it gets, but it could be that we haven't completely tailored our routine to our skin types. You may have wanted to try a new popular product from social media, but it may not do anything for you if it's geared towards oily skin and yours is sensitive. There are so many different skincare variables that come into play here.

Don't just take my word for it though! Licensed esthetician Alexis Pfropper, owner of ästhetik skincare and spa, has all the juicy details about the skincare mistakes all of us might be making. Plus, she knows a few ways we can make better choices!


What are the biggest misconceptions about skincare?

Cora Pursley

Somewhere around 2010, there was a large group of millennials who once believed using St. Ives Apricot Scrub would save our acne-ridden faces. Then came the St. Ives lawsuit that rocked our semi-content worlds. The two plaintiffs — Browning and Basile — that accused the once popular skincare maintained that dermatologists denounced the ingredients found in it.

From there, we've seen trends from skin streaming to turmeric masks emerge on social media. Now that I'm a little older, I know better than to solely rely on social media claims. Pfropper said she's seen plenty of misconceptions floating around that make her scratch her head as an esthetician.

"One of the biggest misconceptions I often encounter is the belief that all skin types should follow the same skincare routine. This couldn't be further from the truth. Each skin type — whether oily, dry, combination, or sensitive — has unique needs that require tailored approaches," she says. "For example, a product that's great for oily skin might be too harsh for someone with dry skin. It's crucial to understand your specific skin type and choose products accordingly," she suggests.

Given the social media of it all, it makes a ton of sense that people would just see a product somebody saw results from, and assume it'll work for them, regardless of their skin type. Instead of hastily hitting "add to cart," identify your skin type, understand the ingredients that work best with it, and go from there.

What are the common skincare mistakes that each skin type makes?

Lotte Nielsen

Now that we know we shouldn't follow everyone's skincare routine, Pfropper has some amazing tips for each skin type's routine. Before we dive into what they are, it's important to know all of the skin types. You could have:

  • Sensitive Skin
  • Oily Skin
  • Combination Skin
  • Dry Skin
  • Dehydrated Skin

It goes without saying, but none of these classifications indicate one person's skin is better than the other. It basically means what Pfropper said earlier — everyone's skin has different needs to thrive.

Here's what she has to say about the mistakes that are commonly made by each skin type.

Sensitive Skin

"Individuals with sensitive skin may use too many products at once or switch products too frequently, but this can further irritate the skin. It's best to introduce new products slowly and one at a time."

Oily Skin

"People with oily skin often make the mistake of over-cleansing and using overly harsh products in an attempt to reduce oiliness. This can strip the skin of natural oils, prompting it to produce even more oil."

Combination Skin

"A common mistake here is treating the entire face the same. Combination skin often has both oily and dry areas, and each area should be treated with appropriate products.

The key is trying to balance the skin and giving certain areas of the face different care. Consider a multi-step approach, for instance, using a light weight product focusing on your T-zone to prevent clogged pores, and layer a more hydrating one on your cheeks."

cottonbro studio

Dry Skin

"Those with dry skin sometimes skip exfoliation, fearing it will make their skin drier. However, gentle exfoliation is essential to remove dead skin cells and allow moisturizers to penetrate more effectively.

It's also important to understand the distinction between dry skin and dehydrated skin, as they are often confused but require different approaches.

Dry skin is a skin type characterized by a lack of oil or sebum, resulting in flakiness, rough texture, and potential irritation. People with dry skin benefit from using richer, oil-based moisturizers that help replenish the skin's lipid barrier."

Dehydrated skin

"Dehydrated skin, on the other hand, is a condition where the skin lacks water. This can happen to any skin type, even oily skin. Dehydrated skin often looks dull, feels tight, and may show fine lines more prominently.

The key to treating dehydrated skin is to focus on hydration, using water-based products with ingredients like hyaluronic acid and glycerin that attract and retain moisture. It's crucial to recognize these differences to address each condition effectively and keep your skin healthy and radiant."

How can each skin type begin making healthier choices regarding their overall skin health?

I've got combination skin, so you can rest assured that I've made a ton of skincare mistakes. Sadly, I grew up in a time where no one really went into depth about skincare, so I used everything from Neutrogena to Cetaphil to treat my skin. I didn't know that I needed specific things that would target different skincare concerns, not to mention my diet was all over the place.

So, what does Pfropper suggest that each skin type actually do instead of winging it?

"For people who have oily skin, incorporate a gentle, non-comedogenic cleanser and look for lightweight, oil-free moisturizers. Also, don't shy away from hydration; oily skin still needs moisture," she shares. Basically, don't trick your skin into thinking your face is deprived of moisture because it will over compensate to make sure you're okay. It's kind of like a right idea, wrong method or timing situation.

If you have dry skin, you still need to make sure your skin is moisturized. Pfropper says, "Use a creamy cleanser and rich, hydrating moisturizers. Look for ingredients like hyaluronic acid, aloe, and glycerin that help attract and retain moisture."

For my combination skin folks, come close. Hold Pfropper's hand while she tells you that it's necessary to have a layered routine. "Consider a multi-step approach, using different products on different areas of your face. For instance, use a mattifying product on your T-zone and a more hydrating one on your cheeks," she suggests.

If you have sensitive skin, it's important to look at the ingredients of whatever skincare products you're interested in. "Stick to hypoallergenic and fragrance-free products (everyone should avoid products with “fragrance”). Always patch-test new products and give your skin time to adjust to any changes in your routine," Pfropper explains.

I developed body acne after giving birth, so I always have to patch-test new products. At this point, I rarely try new products on my face or skin unless I get a professional's opinion — it's a great way to avoid unnecessary breakouts and reactions.

Is it more beneficial to utilize the help of an esthetician and dermatologist?

I know seeking a professional's opinion can be pricey, but it's extremely beneficial if you specifically want to find something that's tailored to your skin.

"Utilizing both an esthetician and a dermatologist can provide comprehensive care for your skin. Estheticians are great for routine maintenance, such as facials and advice on daily skincare products. They can help keep your skin in good condition and recommend products that suit your skin type," Pfropper excitedly says.

Wondering why estheticians and dermatologists aren't interchangeable? Pfropper says it's because, "Dermatologists are medical doctors who can diagnose and treat skin conditions. They are essential for addressing more serious concerns, such as persistent acne, eczema, or suspicious moles." Thus, "Working with both can ensure you’re taking a holistic approach to your skin health, combining the best of daily skincare practices with medical expertise when needed."

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