We all want beautiful, clear skin. That’s why we invest so heavily in products that cleanse, brighten, tone, purify, detox, hydrate and whatever else is labelled. Did you know though, that there are very simple habits that may be interfering with your results? Fixing these 8 simple things could make a huge difference to your skin, without having to buy a $60 face mask. Photo by Sarah Gray on Unsplash
1. Not washing your face with warm water.
If you’ve ever actually read the directions on a skincare product, you might have seen something like “rinse thoroughly with lukewarm water.” Like everyone else, I thought “Pft, does that really matter?” Well, turns out it does. The body has a healthy, natural temperature and when it’s disrupted, we experience adverse health effects. Hot water can dry out the skin and cold water can close up the pores (making cleansing ineffective). Using lukewarm water is a safe way to meet in the middle. It sounds like an exaggeration but in the long term, cleansing with hot water will lead to dehydration, which as we’ve learned can make your skin oilier, age faster, etc. Just don’t wash your face with only hot water. It’s bad, trust me.
If you want to go the extra mile, you could even splash some warmer (not overly hot!) water on your face to open up the pores, cleanse with lukewarm water, and then splash with cold water to close up the pores. Even I don’t do this, but it is an option!
2. Not cleansing properly.
How long do you wash your face for? 5 seconds? Do you just pump some cleanser into your hand, rub it all over your face and wash it off as soon as it foams? Please say no – I’m begging you. If you’re rushing, you might not be penetrating the pores deep enough and therefore leave sebum and bacteria behind. It’s important to remember that we have pores all over the face, often enlarged in areas like the cheeks and T-zone. Think of cleansing like a mini massage, pressing in circular motions all over the face and focusing in the creases of the nose, and in places we often overlook like the temples and between the eyes. Once you feel like you’ve actually cleansed effectively, rinse thoroughly.
As a bonus, I’d highly recommend using a cleansing device instead of your fingers. You don’t have to invest in a Clarisonic or Foreo Luna (both of which I love), but even one of those silicone pads for ~$5 will help. Sephora has one here.
3. Drying your face too roughly.
You know what makes me cringe? When people work so hard on cleansing, then grab their towel and go to town on their face, rubbing aggressively until it’s dry. DON’T DO THAT! Towels are already textured, and the harsh rubbing can damage your skin the same way a grainy exfoliator does. So what should you do instead? You pat your skin dry, even if you’re in a hurry! All you need to do is pat your towel on your face to soak up the water instead of rubbing, and it doesn’t even have to be a slow process. You can even leave your skin slightly damp, which helps to keep it hydrated when you apply your toner or serum.
4. Toning too aggressively.
You’ve just washed off your cleanser with lukewarm water and patted your face dry – hooray! Great job, but you might be wrecking your skin with another mistake. You reach for your toner, put it on a cotton pad, and wipe it all over your face. How hard are you pressing? Are you digging into your skin to make sure all the residue is wiped away? Perhaps you think pressing harder will clear your pores? Harshly rubbing toner with a textured cotton pad on the face can be drying and irritating, and usually isn’t necessary. Instead, use a gentle wiping motion with light pressure and let the product do its job!
5. Rubbing in your eye cream.
The skin around the eye is extremely delicate and should be treated with even more care than the rest of your face. Do you splurge on an eye cream, only to rub it in without a thought? I think we’ve identified the pattern to these skincare mistakes – be gentle with your skin! The proper way to apply eye cream is use your fourth finger (it has the least muscle control and therefore pressure) and dot the product under and above the eye area. Then with the same finger, very gently pat and blend the product into the skin until it’s absorbed. This way, you don’t create more wrinkles while trying to diminish them!
6. Not cleaning your brushes.
In a perfect world, we would wash our brushes after every use. Realistically, we should wash our brushes once a week (or more often, depending on how much makeup you wear) to do the bare minimum of keeping them clean. If you don’t already know, unclean brushes can harbour tons of bacteria from consistently touching your face and eyes to products, back and forth. You wouldn’t dry your face with a dirty towel, so why would you apply makeup with a dirty brush?
I use baby shampoo or traditional bar soap to clean my brushes. I lay them flat to air dry on a towel (I know you’re supposed to hang them upside down but ain’t nobody got time for that shit okay?) and after a day, they’re all good to go!
7. Not cleaning your phone.
This one is probably the most obvious. Buzzfeed did an experiment to prove that phones carry way more bacteria than anything else in our lives, and can lead to sickness. I never thought about it much before I watched their video, but our phones are absolutely disgusting. We bring it with us to work, to school, to the bathroom… and we touch it with our hands which touch other things, and the cycle continues. Then we press the screen up against our faces? Gross! You should definitely clean your phone as often as possible to prevent spreading germs.
Fun fact: you don’t have to splurge on phone wipes. You know what I do? I take hand sanitizer, squeeze it on both the front and back of my phone, and use a tissue to wipe it completely clean. The alcohol kills the bacteria and will also dry very quickly. If you have a phone case, definitely take that off and clean it too. Another alternative is investing in a disinfecting UV light box. It’s a small box you plug in to turn on, and you place small items (phone, keys) inside which are disinfected with UV light overnight.
8. Not changing your pillowcase often enough.
You should already be changing your bedding very often. If you’re doing so once a week or less often, I’d really recommend at least changing your pillowcase once every few days. Your face and hair, which collect oil and product easily, are always on your pillow. Bacteria and gunk can sink deep into the fabric, which you’re then pressing your face onto every day and night which can lead to breakouts. There’s actually a pretty effective method I’ve come up with to test when you should change your pillowcase: go to your bed, press your face into your pillow, and breathe in deeply through your nose. If it smells gross, CHANGE IT.
Hey I’m not perfect either – sometimes I forget to do these things, and once upon a time I barely did them at all. However, I’ve found that fixing these pretty simple habits has improved my skin. We can spend all the money we want on skincare, but we need to focus on the basics first. Thanks for reading, and please comment if there are similar rules you live by 🙂