Are you sabotaging your skin without realizing it? Cleanse your routine of these common missteps and get ready to glow.

You may follow all the skin care commandments — such as using face wash and applying moisturizer — but those bright, smooth results you’re after just won’t show. Or, worse, you might be damaging your skin in the process.

That’s because all skin care routines are not made equal. Depending on your skin type and concerns, you may need certain formulas and ingredients. Here’s what might be getting in the way of your best skin.

Mistake No. 1: not targeting your skin type

The first key to a good at-home skin care routine: knowing (and treating) your specific skin type. The wrong formulas can wreak havoc on your skin. If you have dry skin, then rich, hydrating products are essential. If you’re on the oily side, opt for gentle, oil-free formulas, especially when you’re cleansing.

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“Always use a gentle cleanser, since harsh soaps can trigger the skin to increase oil production,” said April Armstrong, MD, associate professor of clinical medicine and vice chair of clinical research in the Department of Dermatology at the Keck School of Medicine of USC. She is also a dermatologist at Keck Medicine of USC.

Mistake No. 2: not exfoliating on a regular basis

Exfoliation can work wonders. It removes dead skin cells, which otherwise can pile up and lead to a dull complexion. Exfoliating also can unclog pores, brighten your appearance, reduce hyperpigmentation (patchy, darker areas) and give your skin a smoother texture.

So, if exfoliation isn’t a regular part of your at-home skin care routine, you’re missing out. But before you rush out and buy a six-pack of pumice stones, consider the next common misstep…

Mistake No. 3: exfoliating too often or harshly

Here’s the rub: Exfoliating too much or too intensively also can damage your skin. That’s because some exfoliating agents, such as gritty scrubs, can work a little too well, potentially harming your skin’s protective barrier.

It’s best to opt for gentler exfoliating agents such as lactic acid (which removes the top layer of skin), exfoliate less frequently and remember to moisturize afterward. If your skin hurts or stings when you’re scrubbing, it’s a sign you should stop.

Mistake No. 4: going to bed without washing your face

Washing your face nightly accomplishes much more than just removing your makeup. It helps reduce breakouts by removing daily oil and grime buildup. It also allows your skin care products to be absorbed — and therefore to work — more effectively. Plus, when you wash your face, you remove the free radicals (molecules that break down collagen) your skin has accumulated during the day. With this addition to your skin care routine, you’ll help avert accidental damage and be on your way to the brighter, smoother results you’re looking for.

By Deanna Pai
If you’re in the Los Angeles area and want to know more about skin care, make an appointment with one of our dermatologists. To schedule an appointment, call (800) USC-CARE (800-872-2273) or visit