The 5 Biggest Skincare Mistakes People Make According to Aesthetic Doctors and Nurses

February 12, 2024

Skincare can be confusing. One minute you’re told that skin oils give you acne, and the next minute, they’re a miracle-worker. There are hundreds of thousands of skincare products, all guaranteeing you flawless, clear, ageless skin. But the reality is, many of these products don’t have the research to back up their claims.

As consumers, it’s unlikely that you can differentiate between palmitoyl tetrapeptide-7 and tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate. You’re not a scientist. You just need your skincare to work! This need can be heightened if you are struggling with a skincare complaint like acne, rosacea, or dry, dull or aging skin.

It’s not just an array of skincare products to choose from. It’s also how you use them. Does vitamin C go before hyaluronic acid? Can you use vitamin C and retinol together? What skincare ingredients are bad for acne? There are so many questions, and not many answers. But don’t worry, we’re here to help!

We spoke with some of our leading medical providers across the different Sisu Clinics around the world, and have compiled the top skincare mistakes that they see people make. Let’s get started.

The Most Common Skincare Mistakes

1. Using Too Many Harsh ingredients

We spoke with Dr. Fiori Teklebrhan who is an aesthetic medical provider out of Sisu Clinic, London. Dr. Fiori had this to say, when we asked her about the most common skincare mistake she sees people make, “Using too many harsh ingredients damages the skin barrier!”. 

Harsh ingredients aren’t necessarily bad for the skin, but they should be used carefully in a strategic way. For example, loading multiple harsh skincare ingredients onto the skin will guarantee irritation, redness, and possibly worse. Use the harsher skincare ingredients sporadically, based on your skincare type. 

So what are considered harsh ingredients in skincare? Here are some of most harsh skincare ingredients:

  1. Retinol - Retinol is an over-the-counter formulation of vitamin A. It can be very harsh depending on the percentage of the active ingredient.  A common retinol mistake is to use it in conjunction with other harsh ingredients. This should be used in isolation, to prevent over-drying of the skin.

  2. Fragrance - Synthetic fragrances are drying and irritating. While your skin may tolerate them, they are harsh and can be a bad idea, particularly if you have sensitive skin or are experiencing breakouts.

  3. Acids - There are two main groups of acids in skincare: alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) and beta hydroxy acids (BHAs). They are considered chemical exfoliants and can be highly effective when carefully integrated into a skincare routine. However, you don’t want to use them too much! One or twice a week is usually a good place to start.

  4. Hydroquinone - This compound is used in skincare to lighten and brighten the skin. However, the chemical is very harsh on the skin and can lead to a variety of skin problems. There are other ways to brighten the skin complexion naturally!

  5. Sodium lauryl sulfate/sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) - This ingredient is very common in skincare labels. It’s often used as a skin-conditioning agent because of its surfactant, emulsifying nature. Foaming face washes and exfoliators usually contain this ingredient. While foaming face washes can be good for people with oily skin, they can be too harsh for other skin types due to the drying effect.

If you are experiencing irritation or redness in your skin, it might be time to take a look at your skincare labels.

2. Sleeping in Your Makeup

After a long day (or night!), it can be tempting to crash on your bed without taking your makeup off. But according to Susan Fazilat, our Nurse Practitioner in Brickell City Center, Miami, this is a bad idea! In fact, it’s one of the most common skincare mistakes she sees people make at the clinic. So why is it so bad?

Makeup traps dirt and environmental pollutants inside the skin. If you put your makeup on in the morning and spend the entire day out-and-about wearing it, think of how much dirt and grime is getting stored in your pores!

When you go to sleep without removing it, this dirt is trapped within the skin and can wreak havoc. You might wake up with new acne breakouts, blemishes, or dry, inflamed skin. What’s more, it might not be visible immediately. Wearing your makeup to bed regularly can prematurely age the skin.

3. Not Wearing Sunscreen

Many of our providers talked about the importance of sunscreen. Particularly Tiffany Wu, our Aesthetic Nurse working out of our Soho, New York City location. Too many people forgo sunscreen, thinking it’s going to leave them with oily skin, or their makeup isn’t going to sit right. But the truth is, not wearing sunscreen is going to cause a lot more issues for them further down the line!

Our skin is exposed to harmful ultraviolet radiation throughout the day. This is worse if you spend time outside in the sun, but it’s still happening on a cloudy day, or even if you’re just at home! Any exposure to daylight means exposure to harmful UV rays, and it’s aging your skin!

Sunscreen works to protect the skin by blocking and scattering the rays before they penetrate your skin. There are two main types of sunscreen: mineral and chemical. You can choose which you prefer for your skin, but typically, mineral sunscreens are preferred as they work best for all skin types.

If you are going to be out in the sun, you need to reapply your sunscreen every two hours to make sure it is still doing its job. Without sunscreen reapplication, you may start to notice that your skin dries out, is burnt, red, or irritated.

For people who go years without wearing sunscreen on a daily basis, they are at an increased risk of skin cancer and premature skin aging. UV radiation damages the DNA in your skin cells. Over time, this can accumulate and increase the risk of cancerous genetic mutations.

But it’s not just cancer to be aware of. Sun exposure damages the epidermis and deep into the dermis of the skin by causing free radical damage. The result is a reduction in collagen production and wrinkled, sagging, and aging skin. 

Agreeing with this point was Dr. Chloe Bradbury, who is our Aesthetic Doctor working out of our London clinic. “Nothing will age you like UV rays and no skincare will be able to repair the damage! Good quality SPF 50 will be your best friend when it comes to aging.” The Co-founder of Sisu, Dr. Brian Cotter, comically said, “Thank me when your friend can’t figure out why you look so great in 30 years.” It’s our doctor’s best recommendation for a reason!

3. Not Doing Your Research

According to Dr. Parandis Rahmani Neshat, our Aesthetic Doctor out of our Miami location, not doing your research on skincare can cause a lot of issues. “People rely too much on social media without checking the facts. They don’t look at ingredients, but instead, try what looks cool and trendy. Do your research! You only have one body!”

Social media platforms have become a hub for skincare. But unfortunately, a lot of the information shared isn’t scientifically accurate or suitable for most people’s skin. For example, Dr. Brian Cotter, advised against derma-rolling because it drags and tears the skin. These were popularized on the social media app TikTok, which undoubtedly led to many people with a damaged skin barrier.

Each of us have unique skin types and skin needs. Check out this article we wrote to find out what skin type you have. This will help inform your research on skincare, to make sure you are using products that will work best for you.

4. Face Masks

When you think of skincare, the image of someone with a face mask on will likely spring to mind. However, face masks aren’t always the pinnacle of skincare. In fact, according to Nurse Practitioner Meredith Kelly, based in Sisu Miami, face masks can be extremely irritating and even dangerous.

Meredith Kelly, NP, has seen a patient who tried an at-home chemical peel that she got from the internet. The chemical peel went wrong and the patient was left with a hole and scar in her nose. The patient had to try and array of healing treatments to try and get her back to her baseline.

Similarly, Dr. Ailbhe Lohan, an Aesthetic Doctor based out of our Dublin location, said that “at-home face masks bought cheaply in the supermarket are the worst skincare mistake. They can dry out the skin and can be really irritative with all the fragrances and additives.”

5. Over-Exfoliating the Skin

Dr. Ana Carolina, a facial plastic surgeon who is the Medical Director at Sisu Clinic, Miami, advised against exfoliating the skin too regularly. “It can lead to inflammation, irritation, and dull skin. You’ll be chasing your tail. Each time you exfoliate it you’ll make your skin drier and duller.”

What Dr. Ana Carolina means by “chasing your tail” is this: over-exfoliating can have an opposite effect on the skin. When used carefully, exfoliating removes the top layer of the skin, to reveal radiant, soft skin underneath. But if you exfoliate your skin too frequently, or use exfoliants that are too stripping, you can be left with rough, dehydrated, flaky skin.

In fact, over-exfoliating can damage your skin barrier and take a long time to recover from. When your skin barrier is damaged, your skin has lost its ability to absorb or retain moisture. The other products in your skincare routine will lose their efficacy and your skin will look dull. 

How to Avoid These Skincare Mistakes

It’s essential that you know what skin type you have! That way, you can understand the tendencies and triggers of your skin, and subsequently find products that are suitable for your skin needs. 

You can also arrange a free consultation with one of the medical professionals we referenced in this article, in a Sisu Clinic location near you. Click here to find an aesthetic clinic near you.

You deserve healthy, radiant, glowing, clear skin. It’s possible. You just need the right tools. We’re here to help you.