A Dermatologist Ranks the 5 Worst Nighttime Skincare Mistakes

Skincare can be a confusing landscape, even for the most knowledgeable beauty enthusiast. With the many beauty products out there, building a proper nighttime skincare routine can turn into a lifelong experiment, not to mention figuring out whether or not we’re using the products the right way in the first place. Throw in the countless skincare trends and hacks we’re exposed to every day on TikTok, and the average person is bound to screw up their skin at least once. It sucks, but it’s totally normal and also shows why it’s important to turn to the professionals, such as dermatologists, who can swoop in and guide us through the confusion.


(Image credit: @aimeesong)

“Mistakes can range from minor to monumental, causing dermatitis or other forms of atopic conditions and dermal disasters,” explains Ava Shamban, MD, a board-certified dermatologist based in Beverly Hills. “Our skin is the largest organ, working its best to keep out pathogens, [retain] a strong skin barrier function, and balance our microbiome.” Unfortunately, Shamban says we often work against it unknowingly, which can make matters worse in the long run. “There are many, many mistakes people make in skincare, maintenance, and ongoing daily routines,” she says. 

Ahead, Shamban lists her top “performance peeves” when it comes to skincare blunders. “I spared a few of the basics like sleeping in makeup, using long-expired products, or skipping/skimping on sunscreen, which are gospel at this point, but those certainly apply as well,” she stresses. Keep scrolling!

5. Face Taping


(Image credit: @soblushing)

Some TikTokers claim applying tape to their faces overnight helps prevent wrinkles and keeps their skin firm. Face taping as an anti-aging technique isn’t actually anything new; in fact, it’s an old Hollywood trick. (Marlene Dietrich was rumored to use surgical tape to create a faux face-lift effect back in the day.) But just because it’s been around a long time doesn’t mean that it’s a good idea. Shamban describes face taping as “temporary pull that causes more harm than good.” She says it could cause further laxity, atopic dermatitis rash, and irritation. Instead, you should seek treatments that will help boost collagen and elastin. “See a professional for a program of lasers, ultrasonic, RF micro-needling, plasma, and other fibroblasting treatments, rather than taping,” suggests Shamban.

4. Going Overboard on Vitamin A


(Image credit: @haileybieber)

Retinol, or vitamin A, is a popular skincare solution for many, as it’s one of those multifunctional beauty products that have a variety of benefits, including improving the appearance of fine lines, skin texture, and unclogging pores and preventing acne. However, this is also one of those products that can be easily overdone, causing a “dermal disaster,” according to Shamban. “More is not more,” she warns. "Multiple retinoids, retinols, or retinol aldehydes are not beneficial in tandem and can cause major mantle disruption.” 

3. Going Grape to Raisin (With Hyaluronic Acid)


(Image credit: @emmanuellek_)

Hyaluronic acid, which is a humectant that draws moisture into the skin, has been trendy in the skincare world for many years. Its job is to ramp up hydration, but there’s actually a specific way to use it. And if you’ve been using it wrong, it might be making your skin worse. “Slathering on the HA in the wrong conditions, like a super-dry or arid climate or indoors in dry, mechanical heat, can actually create more TEWL [transepidermal water loss] and dehydration,” explains Shamban. Instead, you’ll want to apply your hyaluronic acid products to your skin after you’re finished cleansing and when your skin is slightly damp.

2. Only Using Skincare on Your Face


(Image credit: @ali_tate_cutler)

We concentrate on caring for the skin on our faces so much that we sometimes forget the rest of our body has skin, too, particularly the sensitive areas of the neck and décolletage. This is a common mistake that many of us have made. We can’t neglect the neck (and below)! As Shamban explains, playing favorites with your face and ignoring proper care for your neck, deck, and hands is a major no-no. “These areas age often faster and differently, each needing attention, humectants, emollients, occlusives, exfoliation, and attention to pigmentation issues,” she says.

1. The Over-Exfoliation Nation


(Image credit: @madisonelainechertow)

Using chemical exfoliants can be a powerful part of one’s skincare routine. But as the (Marvel) saying goes, with great power comes great responsibility, and you have to be responsible with these types of products and not go overboard. "People who use retinoids, acid complex peels, pads, enzymes, and physical exfoliants should be careful of making a mess of the skin barrier and balance needed for the microbiome to function,” warns Shamban. "Irritation, inflammation, redness, itching, flaking, and tightness are all common outcomes as the skin is overly taxed.” Think about it: Since retinoids already naturally exfoliate the skin, you don’t need to layer them with AHAs or BHAs. In this case, less is more. 

Marie Lodi
Freelance Beauty and Fashion Writer/Editor

Marie has covered beauty, fashion, and lifestyle for almost 15 years. She contributes to the beauty section here at Who What Wear. Previously, she was the Looks Editor for Bust Magazine, built the beauty vertical at HelloGiggles as its beauty editor, and was a founding staff writer at Rookie mag, giving fashion advice to teens. Her bylines have appeared in The Cut, Allure, Glamour, The Hollywood Reporter, and more. She was born and raised in Southern California and is based in L.A. Marie is a self-proclaimed costume design nerd and a co-host of Makeover Montage, a podcast about fashion in film and costume design. You'll see her writing about her beauty obsessions: red lipstick, winged eyeliner, pink hair, nail art, and skincare for people over 40. When she's not working, she's playing with her dog, Gnocchi, and writing her style newsletter, Overdressed.