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10 Common Skincare Mistakes (And What You Should Do Instead)

We asked  skin care experts about persistent misconceptions about proper skincare — why they’re wrong and what’s the truth behind the myth. If you’ve ever wondered if your skin really should be squeaky clean, this list is for you.

Myth 1: Your should clean your face vigilantly 

Many men believe that the best way to keep their skin clean and oil-free is to vigilantly wash their face with powerful scrubs and other products. Unfortunately, there is such a thing as too much when it comes to skincare and overdoing it may lead to dry skin and flakes. Ideally, men should only be using these strong cleansers two or three times a week.

— Caleb Backe, Health and Wellness Expert for Maple Holistics 

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Myth 2: You need to use toner

The truth is there’s no real need to use toner on your skin. If you still want to use it, avoid any with alcohol to avoid drying or irritating your skin. I would recommend Thayers Rose Petal Alcohol-Free Witch Hazel with Aloe Vera as a gentler alternative. 

Myth 3: You need to use a separate eye cream

Your regular moisturizer should be rather adequate, so eye creams are not necessary, but they can be used to reduce the appearance of dark undereye circles. Under-eye dark circles may be helped by topicals such as those containing vitamin C, niacinamide and vitamin A derivatives such as retinol, or the more-potent tretinoin. Do note, however, that under-eye circles tend to persist. 

— David Lortscher, Board-certified dermatologist and founder of Curology, a teledermatology and custom skincare brand

Myth 4: You should shave against the grain

Before shaving, always wet your skin with enough warm water to soften the hair. Apply a quality moisturizing shaving cream and shave in the direction of the hair growth. This will ensure that when you use the blade, you don’t pull on the hairs, which can leave behind ingrown hairs and razor burn. Also, always avoid using a dull blade as this can cause more irritation to your skin. 

Although shaving with the grain may not be as close a cut as against the grain, you’re skin will look healthier and less rough. If it’s not a close enough shave, simply take a few minutes to re-lather and go for round two for the closest shave you can get. The extra time is worth the effort if you don’t want your face to look like an old leather baseball glove down the line.

— Dr. Alain Michon, Dermatologist and Medical Director at the Ottawa Skin Clinic

Myth 5: Cold water closes your pores

“Cold water closes your pores…. always finish your face wash with cold water to close pores.”

Hot and cold water don’t affect your pore size.  Your pores don’t have sphincter-like muscles around them and they certainly don’t just open and close as they please.  If you really want to shrink pore appearance, exfoliation is just about the only way..  (just don’t over exfoliate, that’s a guaranteed irritant)

Myth 6:  If you have oily skin, you shouldn’t moisturize  

Actually quite the opposite.  When your skin gets dry, it often over produces oil to compensate.  For those that want to slow oil production while still moisturizing, jojoba oil is the perfect solution.  Jojoba oil is the closest thing to the natural oil our skin produces.  Use a few drops to moisturize after washing your face, and you will actually see your skin be less oily than before.  Remember our skin is an organ.  And it’s smart.  With jojoba being so similar to the natural oils our skin makes, the skin gets signals that it is moisturized and does not need to expel more oil to compensate.  

—Adam Villani, Founder Energy: Made with Intention 

Myth 7: If you don’t have dry skin, you don’t need to exfoliate

Oily skin actually needs more exfoliation than dry or sensitive skin types. This is because skin cells often mix with sebum and clog pores. As your glands continue to produce sebum that can’t reach the skin’s surface, breakouts form. But exfoliating can unclog pores and help prevent acne-prone skin from breaking out. Regular exfoliation boosts cell turnover for smooth, healthy and radiant skin. I recommend gently exfoliating every day with a topical exfoliant helping to reduce wrinkles, fine lines, large pores and other signs of aging.

Myth 8: Drinking water hydrates your skin

Sipping on water throughout the day is great for your body but this hydration doesn’t actually reach your skin unless you’re extremely dehydrated. I always tell this to my patients and it seems that it still pops up on every magazine article out there! Instead, skin is hydrated through one of two different ways: natural oil production or topically applied creams, lotions and serums. Drinking plenty of water is still essential to your overall health but it isn’t a good substitute for your daily moisturizer.

Myth 9: You know your skin is clean when it squeaks

A ‘squeaky’ clean face after cleansing means your cleanser probably contains sodium lauryl sulfate, or SLS. Used as a cleansing agent and foaming agent, SLS is found in products that are intended to create a lot of suds, like cleansers, soaps and shampoos. SLS is what gives your skin that squeaky clean feeling but it’s also known to cause irritation. Even in small amounts, SLS can cause allergic reactions in sensitive skin. This ingredient is something the skincare industry is moving away from due to so many issues with it. Skin won’t ‘squeak’ anymore but that isn’t bad at all. Clean is clean. 

— Dr. Joel Schlessinger, Board Certified Dermatologist and RealSelf contributor 

Myth 10: Men don’t have sensitive skin

The truth is, a lot of men end up with overly sensitive skin because they shave every day. The skin on the neck is incredibly sensitive and often gets inflamed and bumpy from the razor and the collar of a shirt. A great solution is for guys to use a soothing balm on the face and neck right after shaving. It will bring down the inflammation and prevent bumps which lead to ingrown hairs. 

Myth 11: Guys don’t need sunscreen

I have a ton of male clients and none of them come in saying they wear sunscreen. Most guys think “they don’t need it,” but I always tell them the same thing- you don’t want your wife or partner to be the only good looking one in the house! Guys lose the elasticity on their neck super young because of this ‘no sunscreen policy,’ and it can be very aging. There are so many great formulas out there now just pick one and be religious about wearing it!

​Myth 12: Men can’t wear skincare products because when they sweat it will bother their eyes

Most of my male clients are pretty athletic- in fact I have an Olympic Silver Medalist and an NBA player too! Every guy I work on is concerned about skincare and his workout. My solution is again my Daily Serum because it’s such a light formula that works even in the eye area, so it’s perfect for a sporty guy! 

— Joanna Vargas, Celebrity Facialist and Founder of Joanna Vargas Salons and Skincare Collection

Bonus Myth: If there’s a problem with your skin, you should apply something

Yes, sometimes leaving skin alone and not over washing it is what you need most. Try using a humidifier — they will do wonders to keep skin looking hydrated.  

— Elaine Consalvo,