Before you apply yet another antiaging cream, serum, or product, stop right there—you could be using it all wrong. Many people unknowingly misapply some of the most powerful ingredients to their skin. As a result, they waste valuable time and money on products that could be effective – if used correctly. From sunscreen tips to retinol mistakes, these are the skincare experts on the anti-aging products they say you’re using wrong.
First off, you probably don’t wear sunscreen every day, which means you’re missing out on opportunities to protect your skin from the damaging, aging effects of UV light, whether it’s July or December.
“Preventive measures are the most important step in anti-aging,” says Dr. Adrienne O’Connell, Medical Director and President of Laguna Beach aesthetic. “You must wear sunscreen every day, in all weathers, that protects against both UVA and UVB (broad spectrum) rays with an SPF of 30 or higher. I highly recommend a 100% mineral sunscreen, which is much safer for sensitive skin and has no added chemicals.”
The second most abused product, according to Dr. O’Connell Retinol. “As the ultimate skincare ingredient for looking younger, retinol accelerates your cellular turnover, allowing your body to replace damaged surface cells with more radiant, younger skin cells,” says Dr. O’Connell. “More is not better when it comes to this product. It can dry out or irritate your skin. It is also dangerous to use in the morning as it makes your skin more sensitive to sunlight.”
If you choose a retinol product, says Dr. O’Connell that it is best used at night and washed off in the morning. “Also, as an extra precaution, you need to put on sunscreen in the morning,” says Dr. O’Connell. “Start slow, too. Use the product once a week and gradually increase until you are using according to the product’s directions and never use more than the directions direct you to.
People often buy the products they see on TV or promoted by a favorite celebrity without caution, warns dr Nadir Qazi, DOa board-licensed physician, cosmetic dermatology surgeon and owner of Qazi Clinic. If you then look at the ingredient list, it may instead contain ingredients that are known to be harmful to the skin. For example, a product may contain retinol to fight wrinkles,” says Dr. qazi “However, if the same product contains a coconut oil derivative such as coco-caprylate, the product can slow wrinkling but clog pores and cause acne. Or they only add a small amount of active ingredients to the product. Suppose an eye cream advertises vitamin C as the main active ingredient. Then they put it at the bottom of the ingredients list under a name like sodium ascorbate. At the same time, this product uses silica as a key ingredient and filler to smooth the appearance of dark circles while using the product without treating them.”
Because of this, says Dr. Qazi that it is imperative to look at the ingredients and do your own research to determine if a product can be harmful or beneficial.
“Exfoliation is wonderful – it leaves the skin fresh and rejuvenated,” says Dr. qazi “It feels so comfortable and alive that people are often tempted to exfoliate more often than they should, with products that do more harm than good.”
Excessive exfoliation makes the skin sensitive and inflamed, and the skin may begin to flake and peel, Dr. qazi says. In addition, when the skin becomes dehydrated from over-exfoliation, collagen is broken down, causing the skin to lose its firmness and elasticity and wrinkles to form.
“To maintain a youthful glow, chemical peels are a good substitute for the abrasive peels you might have used as an adult,” says Dr. qazi says. “Look for alpha hydroxy acids like glycolic and mandelic acids. These acids exfoliate efficiently, and it’s easy to find lower concentrations or limit how often you use them to avoid over-exfoliating. Mandelic acid can be particularly beneficial for sensitive skin as it has a larger molecular structure and is very gentle as an exfoliant.”
It’s not enough to own a bathroom pharmacy’s worth of expensive anti-aging skin care products. Knowing which ones you may be misusing is the key to healthier, more radiant skin at any age.