Dermatologists identify common mistakes that can be dangerous and counterproductive.

Each of us have a nightly routine that includes skin care. Your evening routine may not be as beneficial to you as you think.

“Nighttime skin care errors are numerous,” stated Papri Sharkar, a Massachusetts-based dermatologist. “Who among us can be consistent night after midnight, especially in 2020 or 2021?” Some of these I am guilty of myself.

Even though you may not be able to do it perfectly every time, there are common mistakes worth fixing. Below are the top skin care mistakes made by dermatologists and their tips for correcting them.

Applying products with Vitamin C

Vitamin C serums are ideal for use at night due to their sensitivity and sunlight deactivation.

“Don’t apply a vitamin C serum at bedtime,” said Dallas-based dermatologist DiAnne Davis. “It should be used in the morning to protect skin from damage by free radicals.”

Farhang agreed with her advice and noted that vitamin C can be used in conjunction with sunscreen to combat the effects of free radicals.

Vitamin C serum should be used during the day. It is not recommended to use it with topical retinoid at night.

Davis stated, “They can cancel one another out, rendering them both useless.”

Not whasing your face

“During the day dirt, oil and makeup build up on the skin,” stated Joshua Zeichner, a dermatologist who is also the director of cosmetic research and clinical research at Mount Sinai Hospital. “It can cause skin irritation, inflammation, and free radical damage if they are not washed off. This can lead to premature aging, wrinkles, dark spots, fine lines, and even wrinkles.”

Neglecting to wash your face regularly can cause skin problems, especially if you use makeup.

“Makeup can also especially damage the eyes by putting them at risk for eye infections, inflammation and corneal abrasions,” said Miami dermatologist Annie Gonzalez.

James Ralston, a Texas dermatologist, said that people who don’t wash their face at night can also accumulate bacteria and free radicals on the pillows, which increases the negative effects.

girl lying on white bathtub

He advised that people wash their faces for 30 seconds each night with warm water, a mild cleanser with neutral pH and fragrance to avoid dryness and irritation.

New York City dermatologist Jeriel Weitz suggested a two-step cleansing routine if you wear makeup or sunscreen during the day.

She said that she recommends using a micellar water- or oil-based cleanser first before washing your skin with a gentle cleanser. This will ensure the proper removal of any products you have used during the day.

Failure to moisturize

Gonzalez stated that if the skin is dry or dehydrated, it will increase oil production. This is because your skin attempts to fix the problem naturally. A moisturizer can be used to replenish the skin’s water. Moisturizers will also help increase skin absorption and improve the skin barrier.

Moisturizing is especially important during dry winter months, when skin can become red, flaky, and inflamed.

A dermatologist in Northern California advised that moisturizer be worn, particularly if the heater is on all night. “I recommend a humidifier for my very dry-skinned patients.”

Blair Murphy-Rose is a medical and cosmetic dermatologist, and clinical instructor at Weill Cornell Medical College. She explained that our skin experiences significant transepidermal moisture loss at night, and she recommends taking steps to prevent this. You should use a moisturizer that is appropriate for your skin and helps your skin repair and regenerate during sleep.


Sarkar cautioned against over-scrubbing your face when washing it.

“Some people wash and clean their skin until it is squeaky clean. She explained that the sound of skin losing its natural oils is usually a sign of a skin squeaky-clean. “Our skin should have natural oils to keep it healthy and protect us from external irritants. Be gentle when washing your face at night.”

Sheila Farhang, an Arizona-based dermatologist, advised against aggressive exfoliation. She said that gentle chemical exfoliation should be done once per week. “Overdoing it can strip natural oils, damage skin’s integrity and affect pH balance.”

Incorrectly combining products

When combining skin care products, be careful. “Failing to layer your products correctly can lead insufficient penetration and low efficacy of active ingredient,” stated Corey L. Hartman, a Birmingham-based dermatologist.

He advised that you first apply prescription products, then move from the lightest to the thickest. The seal should be applied last by using the most emollient product.

Hartman stated that this will “enhance skin barrier” and improve the effectiveness of all other products.

It can be problematic to use different products in the same evening.

Benzoyl peroxide is a common mistake. It should be used before applying a retinoid. This can dry out the skin further and even cause retinoids to be inactivated. Therefore, I recommend gentle cleansing before using retinoid products,” stated .Karan Lal a New Jersey-based dermatologist who is also spokesperson for the .Society for Pediatric Dermatology.

Dallas dermatologist Elizabeth Houshmand advised against using too many active ingredients at night.

She said, “You should be careful and only use one active – such as retinol alone.” Do not combine retinol and a glycolic acid, or too many actives. This could cause irritation and disrupt your skin barrier. “Less is more.”

Don’t attempt to duplicate your nighttime routine if it’s been skipped, especially if you are used to using alternating ingredients.

Sarkar stated that patients often come to me with peeling, dry skin. They forgot to use their retinoid and their acne medicine alternately every other night. They double up and use two irritating ingredients, such as benzoyl peroxide and retinoids along with glycolic acid. This is a recipe for disaster. All of these ingredients can be used to treat different skin conditions. However, it is best for your skin if your skin has a healthy barrier.

Neglecting your neck

“The skin on your neck is delicate, and as a result may show signs of aging sooner than other areas and is often neglected,” said New York City dermatologist Marisa Garshick. “In this era of fine lines and textural changes, also known as “tech neck”, it is important to take care of your neck as well as your face.”

To keep your skin moisturized, apply your face moisturizer to the neck. There are also neck-specific products that you can purchase.

Picking and popping

Farhang stated that pimple-popping at nights is a big skin care sin. “The skin is soft and clean after showering, and there are hours over night for skin recovery.” “The problem is that many people don’t know when it’s time to stop.”

She pointed out that whiteheads can be too intense and people overuse blackhead extractors. Farhang suggests instead that you place a pimple patch over problem areas.

New York City dermatologist Hadley King similarly advised against picking at your skin.

She said that picking behaviors are often seen at night before bedtime. Picking is one of most damaging things that you can do for your skin. It can increase the risk of infection, inflammation, scarring, and discoloration. Also, it delays healing.

Ignoring your lips

persons face with red lipstick

Garshick stated that “many people don’t use the right type of lip product, or [are]n’t using any lip products.”

She advised that those with dry or chapped lips apply a thick ointment such as Aquaphor or Vaseline Healing Jelly Ointment at night.

Garshick stated that this will not only lock in moisture to boost hydration but it will also protect lips from irritation overnight. This could be caused by lip-licking and drooling which many people do while they sleep, without realizing it.

Lal stated that he often sees cheilitis (or inflammation of the lips), which can be exacerbated by how we breathe while we sleep.

He said that “Breathing at night without adequate hydration can dry out the lips and cause chapped lips.” “It is because of this reason that I recommend an ointment based emollient to the lips before going to bed for all my patients.”

Not changing your pillowcase often enough

Evening skin care doesn’t have to be about what you do at the sink. Your bed is also important.

Houshmand stated that you may not have known that your pillowcase should be a part of your skin-care routine. Many people don’t change their pillowcases enough. This can lead to breakouts. Even if your skin is clean every night, it’s important to change your pillowcase at least once a week.

Nina Antonov is a Westport dermatologist who recommended switching to silk pillows.

She said that this helps avoid hair breakage and fine lines. Silk is less likely than other materials to absorb skin care products, so the products stay on your skin and your pillowcase.

Insufficient sleep

Sarkar stated that while this isn’t a strict skin care regimen, binging on the latest TV shows or using your phone late at night can disrupt our natural circadian rhythms. This can lead to sleep disruption. Studies have shown that poor sleep quality and chronic poorness are associated with skin aging, poor barrier function, and worsening of appearances.

On the other hand, getting eight hours of sleep every night can be very beneficial for your skin.

Weitz stated that “while you sleep, blood flows to your skin is increased, which allows collagen rebuilding and repair of environmental damage,” Get your beauty rest!

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