Spring-Cleaning Skin-Care Mistakes To Avoid

Illustrated by Elliot Salazar.
As we near the start of the spring season, many of us are probably preparing to do some spring cleaning; we'll clean out our closets, vacuum the corners, change out the flannel sheets, and go through our beauty arsenal to see what to toss and what to keep.  

This last one should not be an afterthought. Each year as I answer questions about spring-cleaning skin-care stuff (and attend to my own toiletry bags), I realize that we're all guilty of some beauty mistakes, way beyond what we're getting rid of — or what we're holding onto. All of the problems are easy to avoid, and paying attention to them will help you clean up your skin-care routine so you can put your freshest, most natural face forward.

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Illustrated by Elliot Salazar.
You don't properly clean your tools.
Keep makeup brushes clean by washing them with a gentle, natural face cleanser at least once a week. You want to make sure to store brushes in a protected cabinet or out of your bathroom while you're scrubbing the tiles until they shines. You don't want any chemicals getting on your beauty tools, products, and vessels — and potentially touching your face.

Clean eyelash curlers and makeup bags once a month; otherwise, what's the point of cleaning those brushes? And, switch out the head from your Clarisonic, or other electronic cleansing brushes, every three months.
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Illustrated by Elliot Salazar.
You over-pump your mascara wand.
Don't make this major mascara mistake! When you over-pump, you force air and bacteria into the tube, causing it to dry out and shortening its lifespan. When you apply dried out mascara, you're more prone to touching and rubbing your eye area, which ultimately can lead to premature wrinkles and crow's feet. Instead of pumping, go for a swirl of the wand in the tube to get that thick application and preserve a youthful appearance.
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Illustrated by Elliot Salazar.
You don't store your skin-care stuff correctly.
Choose only true skin care essentials with understandable ingredients. My personal rule of thumb is that when I open a product, I use it within three months, no matter what the expiration date on the bottle says. Natural products are made with natural ingredients, which typically means few preservatives, so enjoy the products, but toss them before they gather dust, so to speak. You might consider adding your date of purchase with a Sharpie to the bottom of your product, so you know when to dispose of it. And, keep natural products out of sunlight or away from heat (temperatures above 85°F ) or they will break down prematurely!
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Illustrated by Elliot Salazar.
You wash your face before conditioning your hair.
If you cleanse your face in the shower, do it after you shampoo and condition. The steam of a shower opens pores for better cleansing, but that won't help you if you're letting your hair care run down your face and immediately clog them. Condition, then cleanse.
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Illustrated by Elliot Salazar.
You steer clear of oil-based products.
Oil-based products are so misunderstood. Even some of the biggest beauty buffs are scared to try them for fear that oil will cause acne breakouts. Using the wrong oils will definitely do that, but I encourage you to rethink your stance on oil as an ingredient in skin care. Oils rich in minerals, such as jojoba and squalane, actually mimic the skin's natural sebum, normalizing your oil production and penetrating the skin easily. They're gentle enough for all skin types — I promise!
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Illustrated by Elliot Salazar.
You aren't practicing good hygiene with your products.
Although most of us probably give little thought to double-dipping into a pot of lip balm or cream eye shadow, it's a practice to do away with ASAP. It's unsanitary — a breeding ground for bacteria — and if you've invested in good skin-care and makeup products, the idea is to preserve your beauty items as long as possible, not have to toss them because of suspect germs.

Instead of using your fingers, opt for craft sticks, which you can keep handy in your medicine cabinet for moisturizers and eye creams that require a bit of dipping.
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Illustrated by Elliot Salazar.
You think exfoliators have to be gritty.
Scrubs aren't the only type of exfoliants available. There are much gentler, natural ingredients that do a wonderful job without stripping, drying, pulling, and aging the skin. I'm a huge fan of fruit acids, which I find gently help regenerate new skin cells, leaving me with a brighter complexion.