7 cringeworthy things people do when it comes to skin (and you’re probably doing one)

Tis the season for giftcards to spas, makeup shops, skincare boutiques plus the seemingly everyday holiday party. Of course we want to look our best and perhaps try something new!

Before you start your holiday glam and just in time for New Year’s resolutions, check out these (totally normal) cringeworthy things you might be doing so you can do a little nip/tuck of your own before the start of 2020.

  1. Exfoliating your skin too much (especially in the winter).

I admit. This one is such a fine balance which can be hard to find initially. But the trends are there; person never exfoliates in their life, starts turning 35, sees lines and spots, buys all the things, slaps them on and scrubs the heck out of their skin everyday which ends up making them look irritated, red and flakey.

Your skin barrier is an important ally to the health and glow of your skin. It is slightly acidic so that it helps to kill bacteria, keeps bad things out, and the good things in. Too much skin buildup makes skin look dull and crepey. More about that here.

But removing that layer too much thins the epidermis. This causes a cascade of unwanted effects like: thinning of the epidermis which makes skin look translucent and shows those veins you’re so desperately trying to hide with concealer more prominently, loss of water retention causing crepey skin that looks older and produces more oil to compensate for loss of moisture, rough texture, broken red capillaries, hyperpigmentation and irritation like itchiness, pain and an overall uncomfortable feeling. Particularly in the winter, a properly-functioning skin barrier is the most important thing in my opinion. The wind, dry heat, changes in temperature from going in and out of buildings, freezing dry air and winter fun dehydration means you should treat your barrier like a baby.

You’re looking for skin barrier-building/protecting/hydrating ingredients like fats, oils, glycerin, niacinamide and hyaluronic acids.

Fix: tone down your exfoliation in half or take a week or two off if you’re barrier is really compromised. Keep your skin wet, apply your serums with hyaluronic acids to draw moisture in, add more moisture (try a thermal spray like Avene’s or Dr. Jart’s Ceramidin) let it sit then add your protecting moisturizer. Acne-prone skin with large pores should look more for lotions or gels vs. rich creams and be diligent about deep cleansing the skin each night so that build-up does not occur. 

2. Using some sort of at-home concoction like [insert your grand idea you got from YouTube] here.

I am all for natural products (although I lean more towards science). This is not to say that natural products aren’t beneficial and that you cannot make them at home. After all, some of our best products were formulated by wonderful alchemists. Bless them.

What I am saying is that unless you really know what you’re doing, how ingredients work together, how they work specifically for your skin and things like pH, etc. just say no. The benefit that you get for paying for an item is that it (provided it is a legit product from a reputable company) has been tested for efficacy and formulation.  I die a little inside when people with acne tell me they use coconut oil and shea butter or spot treat with toothpaste, or hyperpigmentation do a baking soda and lemon mask, or use an oil they bought from a friend which is not diluted to a proper mix and destroys their skin. The truth is before you say anything, I already know.

If you’re using products and you’re happy with them, then keep on keepin’ on. But if you’re having skin issues or you end up under my mag lamp, please be open to the notion that I may have to tell you what you’re doing isn’t working for you.

I have seen wonderful products made in someone’s kitchen. But just because something is natural doesn’t mean it is good for you. I’m a great example. I absolutely love essential oils but my skin is just. so. passive. aggressive.

Fix: Do research on what you’re using. Citrus oils, tea tree, mint, etc. can all be really irritating and harsh to the skin. Coconut is a fatty oil which can clog. Baking soda is alkaline which turns the skin basic (remember I said it is acidic for a reason?). I am all for a free skin assessment at your trusty skincare clinic. Bring your bottles! Know that it will either eat into your facial time, or book extra time (which may be extra money). It is well worth the investment. This leads me into…

3. Having a skincare regimen without knowing what skin type or condition you have.

This might seem like a no-brainer, but skin types and conditions are not easy. It is why you have people (like me!) spend a lot of time and money on school to learn about it and how to properly treat various issues.

Skin issues can be on a spectrum. Rarely is someone simply “dry” or “oily.” There is a whole host of questions (which by the way if you ask me this at a dinner party be prepared for these because I LOVE skin assessments!). What types of food do you eat? What is your daily routine? What is your budget? How much time are you willing to invest? How long have you had this problem? When did you start noticing it? What medications do you take? I mean…I get to play detective and I am all for it! But knowing these things are important to tackling the issue at hand.  Not to mention that these issues can change on the weather, hormones, age or events happening in your life.

Fix: if you’re feeling in a skincare rut, have been using the same products for a while, or are at milestones in life (had a baby, about to have a baby, going through menopause, want a glow-up for a wedding or special event) then stop by a reputable skincare clinic to get a wellness check on your skin.

4. Wanting advice on how to improve your skin, yet being unwilling to make lifestyle changes.

We estys love seeing people living their best lives, and not everyone has the same passion for skincare as myself and other fellow skin-enthusiasts. And that’s ok! I have plenty of interactions with people who admit they aren’t ready for various reasons to make a change and we both leave it at that.

Enter though, the person who wants a full skin assessment and stares at you with those cute baby Yoda eyes, then when you get to the point of eat healthier/stop smoking/use suncare always, it ends with a “well I’m not going to do any of that.”

Not only is this 100% cringeworthy because of the amazing (and free) advice that was doled out, but now I want to pull out that tool from MIB that erases memory because doing the things I just told that person (i.e. using retinoids, acids, lasers, etc) and continuing to do old habits will make your skin worse. #1 cringeworthy award goes to…yes, that person.

Fix: it is OK to not be ready to make a full overhaul but be honest with yourself (and your advisor) on what you’re ready to change. Even small tweaks can make a big difference, or perhaps you can find something that will help boost the skin to provide some additional protection. For example, antioxidants and vitamin C can help protect the skin from free radicals and sun exposure. Or perhaps a physical vs. chemical sunscreen would be better for you.

5. Not cleaning your makeup brushes and sanitizing your skincare tools properly.

Oof I am not above calling myself out. I get a cringeworthy star for this one. I hardly wear makeup so I don’t clean my brushes as often as I should. And you know what? A day or two after makeup my face looks like a pizza. I should go clean those….

Anything that touches your face such as: pillowcases, makeup brushes, skincare tools, scarves, coats, phones, hats should be squeaky clean. Skincare tools in particular since blood or other excretions can get on them.  Make sure to change sweaty clothes right away. These items breed bacteria. If you notice more whiteheads in areas your items may be touching (examples are bumps on one side of your face, on your chin if you lean on your hands, around your hairline if you wear a hat, in areas that have tight clothing like your bum) and especially once seasons change, do a full sanitation of these items.

Fix: alcohol or one-time use products, deep cleansing items, weekly washing of items and quick wipe-downs can all help. If you are like me and have pores like giant buckets that like to trap everything, nightly and daily washing of your face with a gentle salicylic acid wash plus antibacterial ingredients like tea tree or benzoyl peroxide can help.

6. Not sleeping on your back.

Ok this one isn’t necessarily cringeworthy, but it is a little because it is a totally free and easy gesture which over time will make a huge difference. Plus after all that talk about bacteria on your pillow it sort of makes me cringe to think my face would be plastered a dirty pillow.

Sleeping on your side or face down has a host of issues from back alignment to respiratory issues. Those aside, from a skin standpoint you’ve got the opportunity to slather on bacteria plus you’re also creating lines and asymmetry in your face. Over time that constant smooshing will give you lines on your cheeks, nasolabial folds, chest and neck, plus possible drooping from the tugging on the skin while you sleep.

Fix: try sleeping on your back if it’s possible. If you’re a habitual tummy-time sleeper like me, stacking pillows on either side seems to help. However if at the end of the day your sleep is impacted, go back to whatever you need to do as sleep quality is most important!

7. Judging people for their skincare/plastic surgery choices.

Whether it is taking the time to do 10 steps in a skincare routine as a busy mom, pay the money to have some “me” time once a month with a facial, spend $3,000 on Botox and fillers, or a mommy-makeover at the plastic surgeon’s it is someone else’s choice. Doing nothing and choosing to age as you would is also a great choice.

When someone says, “Look at their face they are so full of Botox! I would never do that!” I first applaud them for their choice but also cringe that the person refers to “Botox” as anything from a face lift, to fillers, to microneedling. It is a very antiquated way to refer to someone who has had something “done.”

Gone are the days when people should feel ashamed for taking care of themselves and doing something that makes them feel good. There is a difference between looking refreshed for your age and going overboard. Going overboard is another post for another day. But having a multifaceted skincare plan with a positive, yet natural look is a great goal to have. This means having a good diet, skincare of serums and creams, staying out of the sun and perhaps investing in more invasive skincare treatments or procedures.

Added to this cringe-worthiness for those who do get procedures are walking into the office and negotiating prices or pointing to your face with an, “inject here,” “lift here,” and “poke here.” We appreciate your thoughtfulness for your plan, but it’s best to work together with your injector or surgeon to understand how to get to the goal you’re trying to achieve. You may see that wrinkle under your eye, but that doesn’t mean that is the area that is causing it. You have every right to ask questions and please do! But also please trust your experts.

Fix: if skincare is not your bag, that’s totally fine! However if you invest in the idea that to feel good you should look good, how you decide to get there is up to you. Just make sure to do your due diligence and find a reputable place. Ask your friends, look up reviews and trust your gut. And if someone tells you “no,” trust them even more. Those are the people with your best interest (and not just your money) at heart.

In closing

As an aesthetician, I can tell a lot about you within 3 minutes of looking at your skin. It is this magical crystal ball that gives me a glimpse into health, how you take care of your skin and yourself in general, what good and bad habits you have, and what can be improved in the short term or the long haul. Are you doing one of these 7 cringeworthy things when it comes to skin? Slide a fix into one of these for your fresh start for the new year.

Have questions? I’m here to help.







One thought on “7 cringeworthy things people do when it comes to skin (and you’re probably doing one)

  1. I wholeheartedly agree with the point about wanting clearer skin but being unwilling to make lifestyle changes. I work for a dermatologist, and I see this type of stuff all the time. Patients come in expecting me to work wonders, but it all starts with lifestyle.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s