Skin care is super fun and it’s imperative to maintaining the health of your skin. However, you might be canceling out the effects of your routine without even knowing it.

Here’s a few things you might be doing that can sabotage your skin care routine.

Not cleansing correctly

Just because you might not wear makeup, or a lot of it, doesn’t mean you don’t need to completely wash your face. While only using a typical cleanser every night might remove your makeup, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s cleansing your skin.
Double-cleansing — or using an oil-based cleanser or micellar water first, then using a traditional cleanser — has made the biggest difference in my life. There’s oil in makeup, SPF and on our skin naturally. Like attracts like and oil-based cleansers or micellar water remove that top layer. Then, you go in with a cleanser that lathers to get deeper into pores. It only adds about 15 seconds to your routine.
Also, while it’s OK in a bind, a makeup wipe doesn’t cut it. That’s like using a dry paper towel to clean your whole house.

Not changing your pillowcases

You can buy the most expensive, dermatologist-formulated products, but if you’re sleeping on dirty pillowcases, you’re canceling out all of your hard work (not to mention wasting money.) Pillowcases are filled with bacteria, dirt, oil and old makeup — especially if you’re not taking all of your makeup off before bed. Not washing your pillowcase is like smushing your face onto a locker room floor for eight hours a day.
No matter how clean you think your face and hair are, I promise your pillowcase is a breeding ground for breakouts and irritation. Wash or swap out your pillowcase at least once a week (I do every four days but that’s just because I’m extra.)

Not giving it enough time

Patience is a virtue and no where is that more true than in the world of skin care. It makes it even harder because everything in our lives is instant and, with skin, we’re dealing with something that’s on our face that we wish it would go away or get better.
You have to give your products time to work, though. It takes about 28 days for our skin cells to turn over so it’s usually 3-4 weeks before you will truly see a difference. Some products will get to work right away and you might see some changes. Others, like retinoids, antioxidants or anything else preventative, you won’t see their true power for months. For most things, though, 21 days is the sweet spot.
If you experience any irritation, stop using it immediately. How to tell the difference between irritation and getting worse before it’s better? Think uniform. Irritation looks like all-over redness, small red bumps all over your face or all over itching or stinging.

Not knowing when to stop

Bottles look pretty. Formulas feel luxurious. You’re like an ancient goddess, slathering yourself in oils and creams. When you first get into skin care, it’s impossible not to want everything in sight. Introducing too many things at once, though, can cause irritation and make it harder to narrow down what’s causing problems. Using too many actives or overusing products, such as over exfoliating or using an acid with a retinoid can also make your skin worse.
For the best results, introduce one new product at a time and wait about a week or two before adding something else. Introduce actives, or products with ingredients that change your skin’s structure on a cellular level — alpha hydroxy acids, beta hydroxy acids, retinoids and vitamin C — once or twice a week to start. Also, stagger their use. For example, I use vitamin C in the morning and acids and retinoids on alternating nights.

Not wearing an SPF

Babe, I can’t possibly explain to you the importance of sunscreen any more than I already have. Even in the winter, even if you work a desk job, even if you have a deeper skin tone — unless you’re truly being a hermit at home —  you need an SPF on your face every single day. It not only protects you from pre-mature wrinkles and lines, but also sun damage or worse.
Make it the last step of your morning skin care routine, after moisturizer and before makeup, if you’re wearing any.

Not consulting a pro

I absolutely get it. You might not have insurance and even if you do, co-pays are high. Facials can be expensive. At some point, though, you have to see a dermatologist or a licensed esthetician who can really assess what’s happening in your skin. If over-the-counter products aren’t working for you or you have a series skin issue, a pro will be able to figure out what’s happening under your skin and how to help. So skip buying another serum and put that towards an appointment. It’s absolutely worth it to keep yourself healthy.