A dermatologist reveals your biggest skincare mistake

Marni Dixit
·Lifestyle & Entertainment Producer
·6-min read

We spend a lot of money every year on skincare, but what if your purchases are actually doing a whole lot of damage, rather than any good?

According to research completed earlier this year by Catch.com.au, the average Australian woman spends over $3,600 on beauty products ever year, which ends up being over $225,000 spent over a lifetime. So, you better hope what you're buying is worth it!

Woman with moisturiser on her face
A dermatologist has shared the biggest skincare mistakes you're likely making. Photo: Getty

Dr Shreya Andric, a dermatologist at Northern Sydney Dermatology and Laser on Sydney’s north shore, spoke to Yahoo Lifestyle and shared her top tips for glowing skin, as well as the biggest skincare mistakes you're probably making.

Dr Andric shared that while "there is no one-size-fits-all skincare regimen", there are certain products with active ingredients that you should be looking out for.

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"The best way to achieve 'glowing' skin is by using products that have active ingredients in them that work at increasing cell turnover," she said. "These include retinol/retinoids as well as alpha and beta-hydroxy acids (e.g. salicylic and glycolic acid among others).

"Vitamin C is an antioxidant which works at reducing sun damage, promoting collagen synthesis and reducing pigmentation and can therefore also help to achieve a glow!"

When it comes to products Dr Andric recommends, she said, "For retinoids, I prefer prescription ones (e.g. tretinoin 0.025-0.05%) as I know they’re the most effective."

Vitamin C serum
Dr Andric said, "Vitamin C is an antioxidant which works at reducing sun damage, promoting collagen synthesis and reducing pigmentation and can therefore also help to achieve a glow!" Photo: Getty

Thankfully, she revealed we don't need to spend an arm and a leg on cleansers and moisturisers, however, there are products she believes you should invest in if you can.

One of those items, is a good vitamin C serum, "My personal favourite is the SkinCeuticals CE Ferulic," she added.

There is, of course, one item that Dr Andric wants everyone to be using without question – sunscreen.

"I like to remind my patients that Bob Marley died from a melanoma under the toenail of his big toe!" she said, adding people are often shocked when she looks at their feet during a skin check.

"Sunscreen is the most effective anti-aging tool that we have but it also prevents skin cancers which are the most common type of cancers we see in Australia," she said.

"I encourage all my patients to incorporate sunscreen into their daily routine as it should be second nature, however hats and sun avoidance are also important factors."

While Dr Andric, like many other dermatologists, always says the best sunscreen is the one you will actually use, she did provide tips on finding the best one possible.

Dr Andric shared how important skin checks are after revealing she recently had a patient in her 20s who thought she had a pimple on her head, which ended up being a skin cancer. Photo: Instagram/DrShreyaAndric
Dr Andric shared how important skin checks are after revealing she recently had a patient in her 20s who thought she had a pimple on her head, which ended up being a skin cancer. Photo: Instagram/DrShreyaAndric

"Look for sunscreens that are at least SPF30+ and that have broadband UVA and UVB coverage. UVA is responsible for photoageing and UVB causes burning and skin cancers so you want to block both of those.

"Any sunscreen with the above that is approved in Australia will be good because the TGA [Therapeutic Goods Administration] has such strict criteria. The most important factor is finding a sunscreen that you/your skin likes that you know you will wear everyday."

If you need any more inspiration to wear sunscreen, Dr Andric shared a horror story of a patient in her 20s that should have you slip, slop, slapping in no time.

"Recently I had a patient in her late 20s come to see me for a cosmetic treatment," she said. "She mentioned that she had a pimple on the forehead that was not going away and asked me to look at it. I checked it with my dermatoscope and knew immediately it was a skin cancer so took a biopsy which confirmed it.

"Thankfully, because it was early, it was confined to the top layers of the skin so we were able to get away with using a light treatment and she was able to avoid a large surgical scar, however, had she not mentioned it, it could have become more invasive over time and required surgery.

Dr Andric says to "look for sunscreens that are at least SPF30+ and that have broadband UVA and UVB coverage." Photo: Getty
Dr Andric says to "look for sunscreens that are at least SPF30+ and that have broadband UVA and UVB coverage." Photo: Getty

"This story emphasises the importance of daily application (and re-application if needed) of sunscreen as well as the need for regular skin checks. She will need to have 6-monthly checks from here on out."

Dr Andric also shared the biggest skincare mistake you've probably made at some point in your life, "[The biggest skincare mistake people make is] not using skincare that is appropriate for their skin type.

"I see so many patients with acne for example who are using products that friends have recommended which clog the pores and make their acne worse, including heavy moisturisers, oil cleansers, hyaluronic acid, etc. Just because it works for someone, doesn’t mean it will work for you too!"

She continued, "I also try to keep skincare simple - you don’t need to spend a lot of money and you don’t need a 10-step skincare regimen!"

Another huge mistake many of us have made over the years? Physical exfoliation.

"Another tip: don’t physically exfoliate your skin! It causes microtrauma to the skin so should be avoided. Chemical exfoliants like the alpha and beta hydroxy acids mentioned above are a better alternative."

If you're hoping to have glowing skin for the rest of your life, you'll need to change your skincare as you age.

One mistake you're likely making with your skincare routine is physical exfoliation, you should instead use a chemical exfoliant. Photo: Getty
One mistake you're likely making with your skincare routine is physical exfoliation, you should instead use a chemical exfoliant. Photo: Getty

"As we get older skin loses tone, tightness and elasticity. It also becomes drier, more fragile and thinner. These changes can result in more pronounced wrinkles, dryness, redness and sagging of the skin," Dr Andric explained.

She shared her top tips on what skincare you should use at different stages in your life:

In your 20s:

"This is the time to get into a good routine of removing makeup and cleansing the face every evening and applying a sunscreen in the mornings."

In your 30s:

"Add a retinoid to your skincare regimen to improve your skin’s texture and tone. Also introduce a hydroxy acid toner maybe once or twice a week. A vitamin C serum will work synergistically with your sunscreen to reduce sun damage and any pigmentation that may be starting to develop. Make sure you don’t forget the neck when applying your serums/creams!"

In your 40s:

"Wrinkles might be starting to set in and become more permanent (unless you have started some anti wrinkle injections!) so you may need to use a heavier moisturiser at night. Switch to a non-foaming, non-drying cleanser."

In your 50s and beyond:

"Keep up all of the above! You may also consider hyaluronic acid fillers to help restore volume in areas that the collagen has been lost."

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