Not washing your face...
We know, you know this. But you might not know why it's so important. And it will probably gross you out. Your face picks up more pollutants and grime than you'd think during the day, even if you don't wear makeup. While you're sleeping, your skin regenerates, meaning it rubs off dead skin cells and builds new ones. "When you have buildup of grime or makeup or other pollutants, it makes it hard for your skin to get rid of those dead skin cells," says dermatologist Dr Mona Gohara. Over time, the cells that weren't rubbed off build up on your face and clog your pores, which can lead to acne.
...and waiting too long to do it
What's the first thing you do when you get home? "Wash my face" should be your answer. OK, maybe it doesn't have to be the first thing you do, but you definitely shouldn't wait to wash off your makeup until right before bed. "If you don't wash your face right away, then you're spending an unnecessary 4 to 8 hours in pore-clogging makeup," says Dr Tyler Hollmig. If you're prone to clogged pores, those extra hours can make them even worse.
Rinsing with hot or cold water
It may not feel as nice or wake you up in the AM, but lukewarm water is what's best for your skin. Both really cold and really hot water can inflame your skin and lead to irritation, Gohara says.
Not using a retinol and a moisturiser
You should start using a retinol after age 40. Or is it 30? "It's 20," Gohara says. "Applying a retinol product is good for everyone because it increases collagen production and decreases collagen breakdown." Her three-step skin care routine goes like this: 1) Wash your face. 2) Apply a retinol. 3) Moisturise. Totally doable, right? The retinol medicates while the moisturiser soothes any irritation you'd get from it, plus keeps your skin plump.
Piling on the product
While it's good to layer a moisturiser on top of a retinol, you shouldn't just keep adding tools to your arsenal, says Hollmig. "I see patients using a harsh exfoliator, plus a drying retinoid, plus other products at the same time," he says. "They end up with dry, irritated skin.' The rule here? Keep it simple.
Using cotton pillowcases...
Sorry, cotton lovers. Silk or satin is the best material for your skin. Harsher materials like cotton are rough on your skin-and your hair-while you toss and turn in your sleep, leading to wrinkles and irritation. If you can't give them up, dermatologist Dr Sandra Johnson, suggests buying ones with a high thread count, which makes the material softer.
...and washing them with scented detergent
It might be time to rethink your "mountain fresh" soap, at least for your pillowcases. Chemicals in fragrance can irritate and inflame your skin while you sleep and even sometimes cause a rash, says Johnson. She suggests washing your pillowcases with unscented detergent, and without fabric softener, at least once a week.
Checking Facebook right before bed
By now, you should know about the dangers of blue light. Spending too much time on your phone, computer or tablet before bed can ruin your sleep and therefore put you at higher risk for cancer and depression, among other problems. Still can't give it up? Knowing that it can also mess with your skin might sway you. Getting enough sleep is essential for that bright, healthy glow you're after, Hollmig says. "Not getting enough sleep gives people a tired, dehydrated look and often requires makeup to be worn much longer than is ideal, leading to clogged pores and acne," he says. But spending too much time on your phone doesn't just affect your skin via sleep quality. It can also encourage the development of lines around your eyes. "It's dark, you're holding your phone up to your face, and you're squinting to see the screen," Gohara says. Over time, all that squinting will lead to wrinkles.
Only moisturising your face
When we think about skin care, most of us immediately think "face" and forget about the skin that covers the rest of our bodies. Gohara urges everyone to moisturise their body at night. "Even if you don't want to lube up your whole body, give extra love to your knees, heels, elbows and any other patch of skin that tends to get really dry," she says.