12 Skincare Mistakes: Why Your Skin Isn't Clearing Up

If you are anything like me, you have probably gone on an eternal rampage on Google just typing in how to get rid of acne, how long does purging last before my skin clears up, or how to clear up skin. You have probably tried all the Tiktok trendy products, DIY face masks, and even the most ridiculously expensive skincare brands in hopes that your skin will clear up. 

It seems never-ending but you keep asking yourself: What am I doing wrong? Why isn't my skin clearing up?

I think it's time to clear the air and take a long look at the mirror, no matter how hard that may be, and assess what you have been doing or not doing that is preventing you from having the clear, healthy skin you long for.

Not wearing sunscreen

Is this not the cardinal rule of skincare? Always apply your sunscreen

No matter how good and effective the skincare products you use are, if you don't wear (and reapply) your sunscreen during the day, your skin is still in danger of sun damage and burning. Remember, protection is better than cure, and sun damage is cumulative meaning all those sun tans and burns you got in the past may come back to haunt you in a few years.

If you really want to get clear skin and keep it that way, you must wear your sunscreen.

Touching your face

Get rid of acne by keeping your hands off your face. It may not be seen by the naked eye, but our hands are filthy because we touch doorknobs, switches, cellphones, and all other surfaces without knowing the number of germs and dirt that can be found on them. 

Before you touch your face make sure to wash and sanitize your hands. If possible, the only times you should have your hands on your face is when you are doing your skincare routine, reapplying sunscreen, or doing your makeup.

Using products with harsh alcohol content

Certain alcohols are included in skincare to give them a thinner consistency and help the ingredients penetrate the skin better. They will give a temporary cooling and matting effect to the skin so you think that your greasiness and oiliness will stay away but in the long term, your skin will get dry and sensitized.

In small amounts, the alcohol content is safe so it is best to check the ingredients list before buying and trying a new product. If alcohol is at the top of the list, it is likely drying.

Good news! Not all alcohols are drying and bad for the skin. There are some fatty alcohols that are beneficial to the skin as they are moisturizing and form a protective barrier to prevent transepidermal water loss. 

Not cleansing properly/Over-cleansing

Cleansing your face is the most simple yet underrated step in a skincare routine. The cleanser you choose and the way you cleanse are so important. If you are using your cleanser for only a few seconds, dirt can still be left on your skin causing a build-up of bacteria, sweat, and dirt.
  • Cleanse at night for at least a minute
  • Double cleanse if you are wearing heavy makeup/sweating a lot in the day
  • Do not over-cleanse or wash your face more than twice a day
As a rule of thumb, cleanse your skin at night for at least a minute or you can double cleanse if you are wearing heavier makeup or did laborious activities that day.

Also, remember not to over-cleanse the skin by washing your face too many times a day. This can cause more skin problems because you are stripping the skin of its natural oils making it dry and sensitized. A maximum of twice a day (in the morning and at night) is good enough to keep your skin clean and healthy.

Not using the right cleanser

As I said, the cleansing step is simple but underrated. This is when a bar of soap just won't cut it because the pH level of your skin will be affected and some cleansers are not effective enough in removing all the dirt off your face.

If you truly want clear skin, it is as simple as picking the right cleanser-- one that will not strip or dry out your skin and cleans properly.


Exfoliation has been found to be the key step in getting clear skin and getting rid of acne. 

Whether it is physical or chemical exfoliation, doing this step daily is just ruining your skin. If you exfoliate every day or multiple times a day, your skin will suffer from microtears and become sensitized, ruining your skin barrier in the process. 
  • Physical exfoliant - once a week
  • Chemical exfoliant- 1-3x a week, depending on the strength of the product

Pimple popping

I am so guilty of this! Pimple popping used to be my freaking hobby, as disgusting as that sounds. 

Why you should stop popping your pimples?
  • pushes bacteria and pus deeper into the skin
  • causes permanent scarring or pits in the skin
  • delays the healing process
  • spreads bacteria to other parts of your face
  • causes hyperpigmentation or discoloration
Never, ever pop a pimple!

Not washing pillowcases/sheets

We all love being a sleeping beauty. What we do not love is suffering from allergies, acne, and bacne (back acne).

Your pillowcase and blanket are used daily, harboring a buildup of oils, dirt, dead skin cells, and sweat. Aside from being bad for your skin, it can also be damaging to your hair. Wash and change your pillowcase and sheets at least once a week.

Not getting enough sleep

Sleep has so many benefits some of which are reducing stress, improving mood and memory, helping in weight loss, and reducing inflammation.  It is great for overall body health.

By getting enough sleep, you are allowing your body to rest and heal. Experts suggest that an adult should get at least 7-9 hours of sleep to truly reap the benefits.

Too much sugar

According to studies, when your blood sugar spikes, it causes inflammation throughout your body. These spikes also cause your body to make more sebum, an oily substance in your skin. Both inflammation and excess sebum can lead to acne. By reducing your sugar intake, you eliminate spikes in your blood sugar, thus, reducing acne.

Not washing makeup brushes or sponges

Makeup brushes and sponges come in direct contact with products and your skin, and just like your pillowcases, can have a build-up of dirt, oils, and dead skin cells. It is important to regularly wash your makeup tools and dry them properly to prevent acne from getting worse.

Expired skincare/makeup

When was the last time you checked the expiration stamp on your favorite products? 

Some products can have changed consistency, weird smells or textures, and decreased effectiveness if they are past the expiration date or suggested shelf life date. Using expired skincare and makeup can cause so many health problems from allergies to acne. 

If you are an avid shopper, make sure to go through all your products (sealed and unsealed) to ensure that they are still safe to use.

Ready for clear skin?

Perhaps you have realized that you are committing some of these skincare mistakes. If you want to start your journey to getting rid of acne and having clear skin, it is time to correct these bad habits and mistakes. 

For more skincare content and tips, here are some related articles:

Photo by Karolina Grabowska via Pexels.com

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