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 moisturiser 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 behavioural 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 aestheticians and dermatologists in the industry. Although you'd assume the above two factors would automatically yield perfect skin, they definitely don't.


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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.


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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 customised 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 aestheticians 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."

Related: I've Tried Hundreds of SPF Products—17 I'd Actually Recommend

4. Doing What Everyone Else Is Doing


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"I often see clients with oily skin using rich oils and serums which cause them to break out. Or clients with dry skin insist on using retinol and high concentrations of vitamin C thinking it’s anti-ageing (which it is when appropriate) but can result in inflammation and skin flare-ups if used incorrectly. Plus, these days, people can get ahold of professional tools such as micro-needling devices, but not everyone should attempt to micro-needle their face. Overuse from micro-needling can cause your skin to become raw and red without proper pre- and post-care. There can end up being more damage than benefits."

5. Skipping Your Retinol in the Summer


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"The original reason for waiting to apply the retinoid was to avoid deactivation by the soap or cleanser used to wash your face. With today’s technology, high-quality retinols (my favourites are from PCA Skin) are incredibly stable due to the use of OmniSome technology, which envelopes and protects the retinol. Therefore, you can apply it immediately after washing, and you can apply it in the morning or evening."

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.


(Image credit: @KIMKARDASHIAN)

"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

Related: A Basic Skincare Routine for Your 20s That Genuinely Works

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


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"Since the air on planes is so dry, it looks for water wherever it can get it. Since water attracts water, when you spray the skin, it draws water from the skin’s deepest layers and evaporates into the dry air. The result is even drier skin! Instead, apply a facial oil every hour of your flight to keep skin hydrated."

Related: So Many British Celebs Rely on This £20 Oil for Amazing Skin

14. Ignoring Your Neck

15. Using Spot Treatments at the Wrong Time


(Image credit: @ROSIEHW)

"If you have a pustular blemish, wait a day or two for the infection to appear on the surface, and then once the whitehead is truly visible, you can gently squeeze it out with your fingers wrapped in tissue. After this, apply your spot treatment. If you apply a spot treatment before the whitehead is at the surface, all this will accomplish is drying out your skin and keeping the infection trapped for longer," she advises. "When dealing with cystic blemishes, it's important to understand that these will never come to the surface, so don’t pick! They are meant to stay under the skin, so treat it with the right product."

16. Assuming Water Intake Will Hydrate Your Skin

17. Skipping Moisturiser 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.