"_____________ mistakes you're making" are hardly my favorite kind of post to read (especially when they're phrased like that...I made sure to title mine at least somewhat nicely!) but they are some of the most useful ones I've come across regardless. While many of them are about makeup, which I consider to be extremely relative, skincare is another story (at least in my humble opinion.) While everybody's skin is different (and therefore your routine should be too!) there are some general rules you should follow when it comes to taking care of your skin. Here are the mistakes I see made most often:
Skipping moisturizer and/or SPFThere are very few skincare products I think are absolutely necessary (sure, I love my serums and eye creams, but would I say you need them? No.) As someone who had oily skin in her teens and now has combination skin, I know all too well the fear that if you moisturize, it will just make your skin greasier. However, skipping moisturizer will do far more harm than using it (and if you use the right product, you shouldn't have to worry about looking greasy.) I have noticed such a difference in my skin's appearance since I started to moisturize properly and my makeup goes on so much smoother (if your foundation always starts to look bad at the end of the day...it's probably not the foundation but dehydrated skin.) To avoid having my skin look like a grease ball during the day, I stick to hyaluronic acid and SPF during the day and load on the heavy creams and oils at night.
Speaking of SPF, you really should be using one! UV rays can dry out and age your skin, cause dark spots and exacerbate hyperpigmentation. Unless you like those effects, use at least SPF 15 (although 30+ is better) every single day.
Exfoliating wrongThere are so many variations here: exfoliating too much, not exfoliating enough, doing it with the wrong products... Obviously I don't know what's best for your skin (I don't even know what's best for my own skin sometimes, which is why I have to do my research and try out different products to see what works) but there are a couple of rules of thumb I've found (thanks largely to Reddit and Caroline Hirons.)
First of all, you want to make sure you are exfoliating with the right product. There are two main different kinds of exfoliation: physical (scrubs, sonic cleansing brushes, washclothes etc.) and chemical (AHAs, BHAs etc.) Some people can get away with just chemical exfoliants, but I find I need a little bit of physical exfoliation to get rid of dead skin cells (most weeks I can get away with just using a washcloth, during bad skin weeks, I usually use this.) With either kind of exfoliation, you need to be careful not to use products that can damage your skin. For physical exfoliants, this means avoiding harsh scrubs and using the correct brushhead/setting on your Clarisonic or whatever cleansing brush you might use. For chemical exfoliants, this means starting out at a low percentage and slowly working your way up (your skin has to get used to it first!)
Just as important as which product you use is how you apply it. If you're using a scrub, make sure to use gentle circular motions and never use a washcloth or sonic cleansing brush on top of that (you'll over-exfoliate for sure!) If you're using a cleansing brush, there's no need to dig it into your skin, I barely press mine to my skin and it still works wonders. With chemical exfoliants, it is absolutely vital that you use an SPF (okay, okay, I know I already drilled SPF into your head.)
Finally, it's important to exfoliate the right amount. Unless a scrub explicitly says it's okay to use daily, you should only use it a few times a week (even if it's a "daily scrub" doesn't mean you have to, or should, use it daily though.) And while you can use a washcloth morning and night, you definitely shouldn't use a sonic cleansing brush more than once a day (preferably less than that.) For chemical exfoliants, it depends on the percentage of acid in the product, but the packaging will generally dictate how often you can use it. If you're new to chemical exfoliants, it's best to start slow.
Applying products in the wrong orderObviously you should wash and tone your face before you do anything else, but when it comes to the rest of your skincare routine, it can be confusing to know when to apply what. The general rule of thumb is to apply thinner products first so they won't be "blocked" from getting to your skin by thicker products. You can always tweak the order of your routine to see what works best for you, but if you're looking for some guidance, I really recommend Caroline Hiron's routine worksheet (I'm not saying you have to use every kind of product she lists, but the order she suggests has worked really well for me.)
Neglecting to check the ingredient listThere's two ways forgetting to check the ingredient list can hurt you: you can buy a product that won't actually do what you're hoping it will do or you can buy a product that will irritate your skin. As I've said before, skincare is very personal and what works for/irritates my skin won't necessarily do the same to your's, but some very common irritants are fragrance and alcohol (especially when it's higher in the ingredient list.) Similarly, some ingredients have been proven over and over again to be effective, especially for certain skin concerns (some shining stars include AHAs and BHAs, retinol, hyaluronic acid and peptides.)
If you aren't doing anything of these, I am really impressed! (Believe me, I've done plenty of these before...) However, if you're currently doing one or more of these, don't fret, there's always room for improvement: just make little tweaks until you're where you want to be with your skincare routine!