It’s no secret that creating and maintaining a good skincare regime takes A LOT of dedication. So there’s nothing worse than when despite your hard work, your skin isn’t bringing its A-game; it’s oily, it feels rough, or it’s prone to dry patches. If this sounds familiar, you could be making one of these common skincare mistakes. The good news is there’s often a quick and easy fix to address the skincare issue. We’re breaking down five signs your daily skincare routine isn’t working for you, so you can switch it up and make your skin feel happier.
Sign 1. Tight Skin
Cause: Over exfoliation or dehydrated skin
Solution: Change your formulas and check your ingredients
If your skin feels tight, chances are your lipid barrier – the skin’s protective layer that protects it from dryness, sensitivity or irritation – has been compromised. This could be a result of using too many harsh ingredients like retinol, AHAs or BHAs or using formulas that strip the skin of its natural oils like soaps or foam cleansers. Check your products for ingredients like Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS, and SLES as well), as these can compromise the skin’s natural barrier. Tight skin can also be a result of overwashing your skin or washing your skin with water that’s too hot, which disrupts the lipid barrier that holds in moisture, so make sure you wash your skin with lukewarm water a maximum of twice a day.
Source: Geinz Angelina/Shutterstock
Exfoliating can also make your skin feel tight and sensitive, which is why you should only exfoliate once or twice a week. However, if it’s currently feeling dry and tight, we’d recommend taking a break from exfoliating until it feels restored. To avoid over-exfoliating, examine your entire skincare regime including your toners, moisturizers, and serums, and look for AHAs, salicylic acid, and retinol. You shouldn’t use too many products that contain ingredients that naturally exfoliate or speed-up skin cell renewal. For example, if your daily toner contains glycolic acid, you should limit your exfoliation to once a week and ensure you don’t use the toner on the same day you exfoliate. For more deets on how to avoid over exfoliation, read this.
To restore tight skin, you need to rebuild the skin’s epidermis by following a gentle routine packed with hydrating formulas and active ingredients like hyaluronic acid and antioxidants. Make sure you’re double cleansing, (find out how here) first using an oil or balm as these will help lock in moisture, then follow with a gentle, water-based cleanser. Finish with a hydrating serum and moisturizer, and a facial oil if you have one. Considering dry, tight skin is caused by a lack of moisture in the corneous layer, your number one aim is hydration.
Sign 2. Oily Skin
Cause: Hormonal fluctuation, weather change, skincare regime
Solution: Change up your regime
The truth is oily skin can be a result of so many things; some are within your control and some are not. It can be down to genetics or it can be due to a hormone fluctuation (find out how hormones affect your skin at every stage of your cycle) including puberty, PMS, pregnancy or the impact of your birth control. If this is the case; you need to follow our derm-approved guide to oily skin.
Source: Dmytro Zinkevych/Shutterstock
However, oily skin can also be induced by an aggressive or incorrect skincare regimen. What a lot of people don’t realize is that oily skin is often a sign of dehydrated skin. While we understand this may seem counterintuitive, the fact is when your skin is lacking moisture it tries to compensate by producing even more oil. This is why it’s so important to moisturize regularly. A lightweight formula is ideal as it’ll penetrate your skin and hydrate at a deeper level without sitting on your skin and blocking your pores. Look for a gel or water-based moisturizer or serums that contain hyaluronic acid; it’s an intensely moisturizing molecule found naturally in your body and skin – it’s able to hold 1000 times its weight in water. Find out fave hyaluronic acid serums here.
Environmental factors can also increase oiliness; exposure to cold weather can impact your skin’s barrier, as can sun exposure or sun damage, or increased temperature and humidity. So if you notice increased oiliness coinciding with a change of season, be sure to read our summer skincare guide or our winter skincare guide.
Sign 3. Uneven Texture
Causes: Build-up of dead skin
Solution: Exfoliate more often or use AHA toners
Uneven texture is a skincare issue we’re constantly asked about and the answer is simple; you need to step up your exfoliation. Uneven texture or bumps underneath the skin are a result of dead skin build up on the skin’s surface. It can also feel rough to the touch. To resolve the issue, start to exfoliate once or twice a week using a cleansing brush, scrub or chemical exfoliant. A chemical peel could also be a good solution; it’ll remove dead skin debris and leave fresh, radiant skin in its place. We like to use the Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Extra Strength Daily Peel, $88; the two-step process is made easy with single-use wipes and it offers gentle but effective exfoliation. Check out this post for our go-to exfoliators.
However, be careful not to go overboard with exfoliating; stay clear of harsh abrasive scrubs and if you’re using chemical exfoliants (AHAs and BHAs) in your toner, use them no more than once a day and not on the same day as using another exfoliator. Plus, post-exfoliation, make sure you protect your skin with sunscreen (find our fave sunscreens here) so it’s not exposed to sun damage.
Sign 4. Small Red Bumps
Solution: Introduce products more gradually
If your skin has developed small red bumps that look like a breakout, your skin could actually be purging. Purging usually occurs when you start using a new product that contains potent ingredients that are irritating your skin.
Another common cause of purging is using a new cleansing tool that’s too abrasive on the skin. We know this can be super frustrating especially if you’ve just splurged on a new product, but the best solution is to stop using the product and give your skin time to heal and recover. Once your skin has settled, you can begin to reintroduce the product more gradually. Start with just once or twice a week, and then gradually increase use over the following weeks. If it still doesn’t work for your skin, don’t force it. Find out more about purging and how to treat it here.
Sign 5. Redness or Sensitive Skin
Cause: External factors, over-exfoliating and using potent ingredients
Solution: Trade in exfoliating potent ingredients for more gentle products
Sensitive skin can be triggered by a number of factors that cause the nerve endings in the top layer of the skin (the epidermis) to become irritated. The nerve endings are particularly sensitive because your skin’s natural barrier is weak, which makes it easily affected by external factors like sun exposure, cold weather, hot water, stress, hormonal changes or a lack of sleep. If your skin is continually sensitive, read our dos and don’ts for sensitive skin.
If your skin is not ordinarily sensitive but feels sore to the touch and is red and inflamed, it could be due to over exfoliation. And while we understand the post-exfoliation feeling is so satisfying and oddly addictive, by exfoliating too regularly you’re weakening your skin’s outer layer, leaving it exposed to bacteria and irritation, plus you’ll be more prone to breakouts. One of the biggest giveaways that you’re over-exfoliating is when your face stings when applying another product. If this happens, take a break from exfoliating for a couple of weeks, as well as any other potent ingredients like retinol and opt for a gentle hydrating routine instead.
For more skincare tips on how to create a good skincare regime, read this.