17 Sneaky Things Facialists Say Secretly Sabotage Your Chance at Perfect Skin


(Image credit: @rosiehw)

If only achieving flawless skin was as easy as patting on a best-selling serum or remembering to wipe off our makeup after a long night out and one too many tequilas. Alas, it's not. Our skin is a complex being (it's an organ, after all!), and more often than not, it seems to have a mind of its own when it comes to its behavioral agenda. As a beauty editor, I'm lucky enough to receive some of the best skincare products on the market to test-drive in addition to collaborating with some of the most talented estheticians and dermatologists in the industry. Although you'd assume the above two factors would automatically yield perfect skin, they definitely don't.

Since becoming a beauty editor, the road to achieving homeostasis for my skin has never been bumpier, and I've found myself routinely dealing with cyclical issues like breakouts and residual scarring. Part of my job is trying new products and treatments, which often don't play well with my somewhat sensitive, congestion-prone skin. Plus, other factors like stress, lack of sleep, and pollution (thanks, L.A.!) don't help matters.

After a particularly hectic winter, about two months ago, my skin hit an all-time low. I was breaking out around my chin, mouth, jawline, and cheekbones (historically, my breakouts were contained around the mouth), and my entire complexion was riddled with mini whiteheads, bumps, and even some blackheads. I was freaking out, and despite how many buzzy skincare products I tried in a desperate attempt to remedy the situation, nothing worked. Until I met L.A.-based esthetician Vanessa Hernandez, who counts such beauties as Gwyneth Paltrow and Amber Valletta as clients.

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After our initial consultation, Hernandez told me my skin had reached a point of maximum congestion, and we'd begin a skin "boot camp" of sorts where I'd come in every few weeks for extraction-heavy facials (to clear out all the gunk!) with mini check-up facials peppered in between.

Fast-forward and Hernandez's customized approached has worked wonders, slowly but surely transforming my skin back into tip-top shape. Of course, being the ever curious beauty editor I am, and as someone who is always on the quest to achieve better, brighter skin, I've been asking Hernandez for other tips and tricks when it comes to maintaining the health and clarity of my complexion—some of which have been surprising. Curious to expose even more secretly sneaky skin saboteurs, I decided to ask Hernandez and a handful of other top celebrity estheticians and dermatologists what unexpected habits, ingredients, products, etc., are covertly plotting against our perfect-skin goals. Keep scrolling!

1. Wearing Sunscreen—But Only Sometimes

2. Your Cleanser Isn't Gentle Enough

3. Ignoring Your Skin Type

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"One of the biggest skincare mistakes I see is people not using the right products for their skin type," Darden warns. "I am always encouraging people to take the time to find out what products work best for their skin type. What works great for someone else might not be the right product for you! Introduce new products into your routine slowly to see what works. This allows you to pinpoint any issues they may cause and adjust accordingly! This is why it’s also important to not drastically switch up your routine all at the same time. If you add in too many new products at once, you won’t be able to tell what is really working."

4. Doing What Everyone Else Is Doing

5. Skipping Your Retinol in the Summer

6. Assuming Trendy Treatments Are the Best Treatments

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"With the Vampire Facial rage on social media, many unsuspecting clients are requesting micro-needling combined with platelet-rich plasma (PRP)," Chilukuri tells us. "Basically, your physician or aesthetician will draw your blood, spin it with the proper harvesting tube (no, not all of the PRP tubes are the same), and this concentration of platelets is then topically rubbed in either during or immediately after a micro-needling treatment.

"We have not seen any short-term or long-term benefit of applying topical PRP versus a hyaluronic acid serum or another safe gliding agent when micro-needling is performed properly (needling with the clinical endpoint being pinpoint bleeding). At my clinic, Refresh Dermatology, we ask patients to save their money when asking for topical application of PRP. Conversely, we have seen trends of improved skin texture when the PRP is injected into the skin."

7. Using Too Many Products

8. Not Washing Your Face Before Bed

9. Working Out With Your Makeup On

10. Picking at Your Skin or Pimples

11. Reaching for Oils (Instead of Exfoliants) If You're Acne-Prone

12. Not Going to the Bathroom Regularly

13. Misting Your Skin on an Airplane

14. Ignoring Your Neck

15. Using Spot Treatments at the Wrong Time

16. Assuming Water Intake Will Hydrate Your Skin

17. Skipping Moisturizer If You Have Oily Skin

Beauty Director

Erin has been writing a mix of beauty and wellness content for Who What Wear for over four years. Prior to that, she spent two and half years writing for Byrdie. She now calls Santa Monica home but grew up in Minnetonka, Minnesota, and studied writing, rhetoric, and communication at University of Wisconsin, La Crosse. She studied abroad in Galway, Ireland, and spent a summer in L.A. interning with the Byrdie and Who What Wear family. After graduating from UW, she spent one year in San Francisco, where she worked as a writer for Pottery Barn Kids and PBteen before moving down to L.A. to begin her career as a beauty editor. She considers her day-to-day beauty aesthetic very low-maintenance and relies on staples like clear brow serum (from Kimiko!), Lawless's Lip Plumping Mask in Cherry Vanilla, and an eyelash curler. For special occasions or days when she's taking more meetings or has an event, she'll wear anything and everything from Charlotte Tilbury (the foundations are game-changing), some shimmer on her lids (Stila and Róen do it best), and a few coats of the best mascara-type product on earth, Surratt's Noir Lash Tint.