What do you wish you had known about skincare when you first got into it?

1.) Don’t believe all the claims (in fact, take them with heaping mountains of salt!). 2.) SUNSCREEN IS NOT OPTIONAL. 3.) Use a good makeup remover to thoroughly remove your makeup!

— Christine


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Mariella Avatar

“the hottest water your skin can stand” is NOT a good idea (that used to be Erno Laszlo’s instruction when I first started using EL back in the 80’s), nor is over-vigorous scrubbing with a Buf-Puf or granular scrubs. Oh – and those Biore nose strips will leave you with even more broken capillaries!

Alexis Avatar

Similar to Christine’s: The main one is sunscreen. I wish I would have known how important it is for your skin’s health and appearance.
Secondly is thoroughly washing your face every night. For YEARS I hardly ever did it.
Third – using acids instead of harsh face scrubs for exfoliation.

Ana Maria Avatar

I love acids and what they do for my skin, I use them every day (I alternate between AHAs and BHAs depending on how my skin feels), I wish I would have discovered them sooner… but I need a good old classic scrub at least once a week 😆 It’s almost like a placebo. Fortunately, nowadays there are plenty of gentle physical scrubs on the market.

Jessica Avatar

I wish I’d known that oily skin still needs moisture! My skin is between combo and oily. When I’m adequately moisturized it produces way less oil.

Stephanie Avatar

1) Patch test all products, and 2) only use one new product at a time. When I first got into skincare I just used products at random and would use lots of new ones together. I had no idea which ones were helping or which ones were hurting. Testing products slowly helps me make more informed decisions about what is worth using. And of course, SUNSCREEN!

Kristin Avatar

For years, I avoided buying skincare because every new product made me breakout. I wish I had known that this is common for sensitive skin, and to wait it out for a day or two before abandoning a product to allow my skin to calm down. If after two uses it’s still Breakout City, return and try a new one!

Btw for oily skinned folks, give Son&Park’s Beauty Water a try to help add moisture back in after a shower. You can get it at Sephora or Walmart (weird, I know) but it really made a difference for me!

Evi Avatar

oil makeup removers!
You can still get sunburned on a cloudy day, in fact you are more likely to because you won’t notice it as much until its too late, so wear sunscreen even if its cloudy out.
also, a clean pillowcase is the first and most important step to clear, clean skin. I now change mine twice as regularly as the rest of my sheets and it makes such a difference.

V Avatar

I’m embarrassed but you reminded me of how important going Oprah is. I’m sure she has servants change her bedding daily. I should change pillowcases even more frequently due to a cat that sleeps on my head.

Evi Avatar

aww yeah, I used to sleep with a cat that would slowly take ownership of my pillow during the night, so I know the feeling!
I definitely dont have the energy to change all my sheets as regularly as I do my pillowcase. Just thinking about it makes me feel exhausted.

V Avatar

It’s so exhausting to change bedding and do laundry so often (in addition to cleaning up after kitties) but my sensitive skin appreciates your reminder. Idk if this is a decent skin care tip: Put clean towels or blankets that belong only to animals wherever they sleep and keep sticky lint rollers around although they always end up sleeping on my head like a hat and on my chest w/ paws in my face.

Minnie Avatar

Sunscreen here too!! I used sunscreen when outdoors for extended periods but had never considered it a daily thing, or as part of my daily makeup routine.

Try different products or brands until you get the results you want. I’ve recently switched from a brand I’d been using for YEARS to a new brand with drastic positive results.

Moxie Avatar

– Sunscreen is a necessity. Even if it’s cloudy.

– Using scrubs like St Ives on your face is basically asking for trouble.

– Sometimes the best thing you can do for your skin is leave it alone. No products beyond washing it.

– Lip skincare is extremely important and overlooked.

– Tea tree is great for the skin when you have excess from weight loss or being larger.

– The 7 Skin method and grits methods may not work for you, and that’s ok.


Mimi Avatar

A few off the top of my head:
– Sunscreen is not optional, rain or shine. Take the time to find the one(s) that you will actually be happy to use every day and stick to it!

– Have realistic expectations from skincare products. They definitely will help and are important but some things are either genetic or need the attention of a dermatologist. Also usually it takes some time to see results from OTC products.

– Don’t overwhelm yourself with a massive routine. Take time to have a general understanding of ingredients and what they do to choose the products that address your specific concerns. A routine that you will consistently stick with will yield better results.

– Don’t strip your skin with harsh cleansers or scrubs, even if it’s oily. Definitely exfoliate but don’t overdo it.

– “Natural ingredients” are not better than what some brands are calling “chemicals” — that is marketing and everything (even water) is a chemical. Natural ingredients can still irritate skin and may go off quicker if it does not have a good preservative system, and for some sensitive skin types/issues the right “chemical” ingredients are actually less likely to irritate because they are manufactured to standard with better controls.

kjh Avatar

Bravo to last paragraph. I’ve said ‘water is a chemical; everything is a chemical’ until I was blue in the face. How about ‘organic?’ So called organic sunscreens are the ones that are not reef safe, and produce severe allergies for me. What are most people allergic to? Pollens, animal hair…all the ‘natural’ side. Oftentimes the alternatives are far less aggro.

Ana Maria Avatar

1) Skin is a living organ, adapt to it, do not force a routine
Skin has it’s own life and reacts to our lifestyle and environment; it changes every year and every day. I wish I knew that skincare is something I need to adapt on what my skin needs and how it feels, not use only rules set in stone. It’s not a `on Mondays I apply this and on Friday that`. Some days I need an extra boost of hyaluronic acid or to seal my face with an oil, other days it’s too much. I have a high tolerance to retinol and I can use a 1% one every day without issues, but some days on a odd while I simply need a break.
Yes, there’s the basic `cleanser, toner, morning routine / night routine`, but in some days I’ll apply one layer of toner, in others I might end up with doing the whole `7-layer`.

On your face and body! Girl, do not leave the house any day of the year without putting suncreen on your hands!!!

3) Skincare is an investment
Good quality ingredients and great elegant effective formulas come with a high price and it’s worthwhile. A good moisturizer, serums, treatments lasts for months. It might be a hefty price tag now, but it pays up in time.
3a) Don’t spend too much on cleansers
Some products don’t need fancy ingredients and cleanser is one of them. If you can splurge, do it; but a $35 cleanser is as good as a $5 well formulated one.
3b) Don’t buy full / large sizes of specialty treatments
Benzoyl peroxide, vitamin C boosters, retinol serums, eye creams etc… I didn’t need to buy full / large sizes; even if used regularly, I won’t finish them in 6 months or a year and by then their potency slowly diminish. Yes, buy the biggest cleanser, toner and SPF bottle you can find; but otherwise less is better.

4) Read the ingredient list; then remember it
I just wished I was more aware of the ingredient list not just for avoiding irritants or not be fooled by active ingredients. Even a `clean` label can sensitize, some people have very wild rare sensitivities. And ingredients from different products interact, I need to check ingredients to know what doesn’t work good alone or together on me.

Nancy T Avatar

To teenage and 20-something Nancy,
1.) Sunscreen is your friend, despite not being a burner or much of an ager, it would have spared you all those sun freckles and hyperpigmentation!
2.) Alcohol is NOT your friend, even though you will have literal oil-slick skin as a teen clear into your 40’s.
3.) Please use an eye cream and moisturize your neck from your 20’s forward. You will thank me when you turn 60. Because, hunny, you may get taken for a 40 or 40-something, but your undereye area and neck need some help!

Ana Maria Avatar

For me I will say neck and upper chest area; I was quite diligent with my neck after my mid 20s, but now I see my shoulders and upper chest showing more signs of aging that my neck. Which is not unexpected since that area is more exposed to the sun, especially during summer. It’s not like I’m wearing deep T-shirt cuts, but even that little bit of cleavage doesn’t age well.

V Avatar

Yes. Yes. Yes! I often use facial skin care from the boobs up, sometimes full torso, arms, even legs. It can get pricey. I’ve been trying to stick to serious neck & décolleté products and routine since 29. Now I’m in my late 30s. I hate to admit it but I notice ppl’s necks frequently. I SO don’t want to get that injectable fat dissolver 1 day. I hear it burns and can cost more than laser treatments. ?

Rosalie Avatar

1) Don’t throw all the actives at your skin at the same time. Start slow, build up.
2) Learn to know your skin. When I started keeping a skin journal, I learned that my combination-oily skin has a tendency to get dehydrated and to break out as a result. The products that work for me are thicker than what I thought I needed, and often even contain oil (!). It also helped me find the right strength, frequency and type for my actives.
3) Consistency is key.
4) Sunscreen… always, and especially if you use actives.

Sam Avatar

Dear younger self,

Go see the doctor about your damn acne. Topical cream can help, you’ll only need it for 3 months. Don’t spend 15 years hating yourself and feeling shit about the mirror – you don’t have to.

Deborah S. Avatar

SUNSCREEN, SUNSCREEN AND MORE SUNSCREEN. Wear sunscreen everyday regardless of whether you are going to be in sunlight or not.
Wear a hat and avoid direct sunlight on your face for more than 5-10 minutes.
Do not use a straw. Learn how to read your skin and determine what it needs. Skin needs change on a daily basis and knowing how your skin reacts to chemicals is important before shelling out hundreds of dollars on skin care.
Read product labels and research what those chemicals are. Science is forever changing and what they say is good for your skin today is just as likely to be harmful when new research is done or when products have been used for awhile.
Always patch test your products. One bad reaction and you will never forget that step again.
There is a topical product for instantly removing fine lines under eyes, etc. It does work but when you read the instructions you cannot put anything on over it or the effect would be lost. I don’t know about anyone else but I have to use products over my skin care!!
Don’t buy into the hype. If something is going to make a miraculous difference in your skin believe me, everyone would be using it!! Even products that do what they say they will can be suspect.
Skin care needs to be started young and used religiously. When you are young and have beautiful skin it is hard to understand that it isn’t going to be that way forever and regardless of all the care you take, aging is going to happen. A good portion of it is genetics. It can be depressing and so you have to come to grips with the fact that your face and skin are going to change regardless. The only thing you can do is minimize the known skin damaging chemicals and be at peace with the changes. Harder to do than to say. I have recently noticed a pretty drastic change in my skin and it has felt that all of a sudden my lines are deeper, wider and just plain “more” of the bad stuff. I was talking to a friend of mine about it and they mentioned the whole genetic relationship and so I took the time to go back and look at photos of my grandparents, great grandparents, etc and discovered that one side of my family, my father’s side had really beautiful skin. My paternal grandmother had almost no wrinkles when she passed away at age 89. On my mother’s side of the family they all had pretty severe wrinkling from a relatively young age. I assumed it was because of working out in the fields as they were all farmers and ranchers. That certainly accounts for a good portion of it but there were family members who didn’t spend a lot of time in the sun and yet were quite wrinkled from a relatively young age. Sometimes genetics just messes with you and you have to accept that. I would say, in comparing where my skin is at now with similar age of my ancestors, overall, my skin is much better than my maternal side and not quite as good as my paternal side. Who knows what it would have been like had I not started using skin care rather young.

kjh Avatar

So right on the hardwired/genetic aspect. When gents inherit their mother’s skin, it is often refined and gorgeous. When a female inherits her father’s (worse) skin, oy vay, not so much, believe me.

Kate Avatar

I feel very lucky because I didn’t take care of my skin properly until I was well into my thirties. It’s lucky that I always had to be careful in the sun, so I don’t have too many signs of photo-aging but there has definitely been a progression from freckles to hyperpigmentation. In terms of what I wish I’d known:

1. Regular exfoliation is important but it’s also important to recognize the difference between chemical and mechanical exfoliants. And I don’t mean “chemical” in the sense of artificial ingredients but in the sense of acids that gently slough off dead skin, as opposed to granular scrubs that can leave micro-tears in the skin.

2. If a moisturizer leaves your skin feeling greasy, it doesn’t mean you don’t need a moisturizer. It means that you need a lighter one. To this day, gel-like textures work MUCH better for me than heavier creams other than in the dead of winter.

3. If you have to scrub really hard to remove your makeup, you’re doing it wrong. Being too rough is almost as damaging to skin as not removing makeup at all.

Karen Johnston Avatar

1.) Sunscreen, Every. Single. Day.
2.) Start retinal therapy earlier.
3.) If the result of a particular skin care regimen is that it is holding back the clock, be satisfied. Very rarely, if ever, will you ever see the clock reverse.
4.) To my teenager self: “Don’t pick!”

Alecto Avatar

~ Sunscreen!
~ No mechanical exfoliation!!! (other than the occasional body dry-brushing)
~ The only cleanser you’ll ever need is oil, and you’ll never need hot water or washcloths — be kind! Don’t destroy your defenses — it’s almost impossible to get them back!
~ Oily skin likes moisture, and oil-free is not necessary. In fact, the more you remove oil from your routine, the oilier (and more irritated, and generally unhappier) your skin will get!
~ AHAs and BHAs FTW!
~ Drink healthy amounts of water, and never stop!
~ Scent is no indicator of function; also, camphor and eucalyptus are NOT good for your skin!

Not sure if this counts as a skincare note to former self (though it should): Figure out what food(s) you might be sensitive to and avoid it (them) for ALWAYS.

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