6 Things That Are Keeping You From Perfect Skin

Illustrated by Madelyn Somers.
Perfect skin. It’s what we all want, and it's the reason so many of us spend countless hours (and dollars) trying to figure out which skin-care products to buy. Luckily, I’ve got the surprising scoop on what you’re doing — and not doing — that’s likely keeping your complexion from looking its best.
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Illustrated by Madelyn Somers.
You’re Not Using The Right Products For Your Skin Type
Quite a few of us don’t know our skin type. Others have been tricked into thinking we have a certain type of skin based on products we've been using that affect our face. For example, if you have combination skin and you’re using a product containing irritating ingredients such as alcohol, you may actually be exacerbating the oily areas. Because irritation stimulates nerve endings in skin, a subsequent hormonal surge leads to more oil and, potentially, breakouts.

On the other hand, if you have dry skin and load up on moisturizers but don’t use a good leave-on exfoliant, a buildup of dead, dry skin cells results. Moreover, that really rich moisturizer you're using seems to stop working.

Basically, what you need is a routine that fits your skin type and manages your concerns. Each product in the routine should have a texture (cream, lotion, gel, liquid) that makes sense for your skin type. That means if skin is oily, avoid creams and lotions, and opt for gels or liquids. Combination skin calls for a mix of products applied to each area — or you can opt to layer lighter-weight products over the drier areas. Dry skin needs richer, thicker products; with normal skin there's a little more leeway, and you can choose the product textures you like most. Above all, you really want to make sure that every product in your routine is free of irritating ingredients.
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Illustrated by Madelyn Somers.
You’re Only Applying Sunscreen When It’s Sunny
If you aren't applying an SPF every single day — even if you only go outside to grab the mail — that's a problem. All of those seemingly innocent, unprotected, incidental exposures add up, and the cumulative damage — even on a cloudy day — harms your skin’s immune response. When skin’s immune response is damaged, skin cannot be at its best, no matter what products you use.

Daily sunscreen use is the single most important thing you can do to get and maintain near-perfect (and certainly younger-looking) skin.
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Illustrated by Madelyn Somers.
You’re Using A Face Scrub For Acne Or Blackheads
Still using scrubs to combat breakouts? Many people are gentler to their floors than they are to their face, yet acne cannot be scrubbed away. Ditto for clogged pores. At best, a scrub can remove the uppermost portion of a blackhead, but what you can’t see is the root, and, just like a weed on your lawn, if you don’t get the entire thing out, it'll spring back before you know it.

Furthermore, it's important to note that using harsh scrubs can cause inflammation that makes acne appear redder and more swollen. For breakouts and clogged pores, you can’t beat results from a well-formulated, leave-on BHA exfoliant (active ingredient: salicylic acid). Surprisingly, only a handful of cosmetic companies sell such products, but they’re worth seeking out as they will do more for breakouts and large pores than any scrub you’ve tried.
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Illustrated by Madelyn Somers.
You’re Using Lots Of Highly Fragranced Products
Fragrance is ecstasy for your nose but can be agony for your skin. While there's nothing wrong with wanting your products to smell good, switching to those with a neutral or natural (but without added fragrance) scent may go a long way toward eliminating a lot of skin issues, from dry patches to sensitivity problems.

When shopping for skin care, be sure you’re checking the ingredients and avoiding products that list fragrance or “parfum” as well as products that contain fragrant oils like lavender, eucalyptus, all forms of citrus, and all types of mint.
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Illustrated by Madelyn Somers.
You’re Not Removing All Of Your Makeup Each Night
I know: You had a long day. You’ve been going nonstop, and that glass (or two) of wine was well-deserved. But, no matter how exhausted you feel, you must be diligent about washing your face before you hit the sheets. Blotchy skin, breakouts, puffy eyes, and even red, irritated eyes often result from skipping that all-important bedtime ritual. It only takes a couple of minutes to wash your face thoroughly; at least once every few days, it's also a good idea to soak a cotton swab in a good makeup remover (Almay, Clinique, and Paula’s Choice make gentle yet highly effective ones for less than $20) and gently go over the upper and lower lashline, plus eyelashes themselves.

Traces of eye makeup left on overnight will build up over time, leading to irritated eyes and a less than flawless complexion.
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Illustrated by Madelyn Somers.
You Expect Skin Care To Work As Well As Cosmetic Corrective Procedures
That wrinkle cream promising to work like Botox or that serum promising to “mimic the results of a cosmetic corrective procedure”? Sadly, it’s mostly just fantasy, not reality. If these products worked even half as well as they claim to, the number of cosmetic corrective procedures would be going down, right? But, the stats tell a different story, as each year the number of minimally invasive procedures performed continues to increase.

Does this mean anti-aging products are a waste of time and money? Nope! What it suggests, though, is that getting and maintaining perfect skin requires the help of a brilliant skin-care routine and considering the procedures that address what excellent skin-care cannot. It's my belief that sagging, reducing expression lines, and restoring lost facial volume may be better accomplished by a procedure and not a product. And, when you consider that some anti-wrinkle products cost upwards of $500, it's something to think about.

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