The 5 Skincare Mistakes I've Stopped Making Since Being a Beauty Editor

There are certain beauty rules that experts and editors just love to enforce. Whether it’s not using heat protection before you straighten your hair or occasionally drifting off without removing your makeup, everyone is guilty of committing a beauty sin from time to time, right? However, it can often feel as though, should anyone break such rules, there is very little room for redemption. And I must admit, this is something I feel a little uneasy about. 

You see, beauty aficionados on Instagram are keen to highlight our wrongdoings. In fact, many would have you believe that the very act of using micellar water without washing it off or (God forbid) not cleaning your makeup brushes every week is up there with some of the worst crimes.


(Image credit: @SHANNONLAWLOR)

For many years, I resented this approach to educating the masses on the importance of a great beauty routine. I couldn’t help but feel as though making people feel ashamed by their own practices was the wrong way to go about things. And, as time has gone on, I do still somewhat feel this way. Shaming others for their choices doesn’t seem particularly helpful. However, if there is one thing I have learned from speaking to experts every single day, it’s that there is no magic potion that reverses skin damage.

Every year, the science that I am presented with when it comes to skincare gets more and more in-depth, and quite frankly, what I know now about our skin and how it works means that there are certain beauty vices that I would never indulge in again. It doesn’t matter how many times I was nagged by experts, what it really took for me to rethink my routine was serious education. Keep scrolling to discover the skincare mistakes I vowed I would never make again once I learned the science behind the reasoning.

Mistake #1: Skipping SPF

You knew this was going to be number one, right? I have to admit that it took a good few years in the job before I really started applying SPF every single day, rain or shine. UV rays are the most damaging external aggressor that our skin faces. UVB rays that cause our skin to burn can cause serious damage, including drastically increasing the risk of developing skin cancer. UVA rays, on the other hand, which are present even on cloudy days, are silent destroyers. While they don’t cause the skin to burn, they do break down the skin’s natural defence and structure, resulting in premature ageing.

It’s taken me a lot of trial and error to find an everyday formula that feels comfortable to wear and doesn’t break me out, but it’s safe to say that I now wouldn’t dream of skipping my SPF application in the morning.

Mistake #2: Overdoing Acids

As previously mentioned, I have oily skin, so the need for regular exfoliation is real. However, I really didn’t fully understand the damage that can be caused by over-exfoliating until I learned the hard way a couple of years ago. Using really strong, skin-tingling acids every single day can (and will!) leave your skin’s natural barrier worse for wear. 

After a six-month stint of juggling redness, dryness, painful breakouts, I finally sought expert help last year. The cause? Using products jam-packed with acids too often. It might feel like the right thing to do if your skin is dull, lacklustre and prone to breakouts, but trust me—gentle exfoliation is the way forward.

Mistake #3: Only Cleansing Once

For many people, the entire act of cleansing both starts and finishes with a cotton pad and a bottle of micellar water. In all honesty, that was never me. I always have been the sort of person that uses a wash-off cleanser morning and night. However, it wasn’t until I learned about double-cleansing that I considered the need to go in twice.

The truth is, whether you use micellar or a wash, doing things once simply isn’t enough. Micellar water, for instance, is usually full of drying ingredients that should really be washed off the face after they have done their job at removing makeup. A simple face wash, on the other hand, doesn’t always have the hard-working ingredients to totally dissolve the day’s makeup and dirt. For optimum skin health (and to avoid breakouts), cleansing twice in the evening is the way to go. Nowadays, I wouldn’t dream of getting into bed without using a balm or cream cleanser to remove makeup and dirt, followed by my usual gel wash to offer up a deeper pore cleanse.

Mistake #4: Using Heavy Moisturiser Twice a Day

This is a lesson I only learned in the last year or so. Skin experts love to shout that hydration is key, and they’re not wrong, but that doesn’t always mean that a thick moisturiser is the right product. For many years, I believed that the reason my skin was oily was because it was actually deeply dehydrated (and therefore was producing excess oil to compensate), so I continued to slather on rich creams morning and night.

However, when I stopped using moisturising creams and instead started opting for lightweight, but still seriously hydrating, serums twice a day, my skin started to get its glow back and my breakouts drastically reduced. Now, I still love a rich cream but only when my skin feels like it needs it.

Mistake #5: Squeezing Spots

Trust me—I get it: Sometimes a spot just has to be squeezed, right? And the truth is, if you can squeeze a spot correctly, then I have no issue with anyone blitzing unsightly whiteheads with a quick pop. However, I can’t squeeze a spot like an expert can. In fact, squeezing a spot incorrectly more often than not simply delays the healing process (meaning it’s present for longer) and results in scarring. Now, no matter how ripe a spot is, I refuse to squeeze it. Instead, I simply dab on a bit of drying treatment and let nature do its thing. Usually, the spot will be gone within a few days.

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Freelance Beauty Editor

Shannon Lawlor is a renowned beauty journalist and has contributed to Who What Wear’s beauty content since 2020. As a leading beauty editor, expert and brand consultant, she has over eight years of experience working for some of the industry’s most esteemed titles, including Who What Wear (of course), Glamour UK, Stylist, Refinery29 and Fabulous. Having also worked behind the scenes with some of the industry’s biggest brands and retailers, Shannon has a unique insight into what people really want from their beauty routines. Understanding that beauty lovers seek honest, open and responsible advice, she has it made her mission to demystify the intimidating world of beauty, taking a no-frills approach to the most relatable topics. While Shannon is the first to admit she doesn’t hold the answer to every beauty question out there, she is dedicated to sharing her expert insights in a bid to help. As a self-proclaimed lazy girl, Shannon has an affinity for easy-to-use, foolproof beauty products and has made it her mission to scope out the best of the best. When she’s not working, Shannon is likely soaking in the bath or giving no-holds-barred beauty reviews on Instagram from her bathroom floor.