6 common mistakes for damaged skin barrier
After hundreds of skincare consultations, here is a summary of the mistakes people make that damage their skin barrier.
Lu Li
April 22, 2020
Through Glowism, my cofounder and I (two female engineers) get to work alongside some seasoned estheticians who have been dealing with various skin problems on a daily basis for over ten to twenty years. After working through hundreds of consultations with them, we noticed some common patterns/mistakes which are surprising and interesting to us as consumers. We thought we might as well share them publicly. It might be helpful to other consumers just like us. So here you go:

1) It's common for people to skip the most basic & important steps in their skincare routine: cleansing and sunscreen!
Some people impaired their skin barrier in the past, to avoid further damage, they would skip cleanser and just use water; some people hate the greasy feeling of sunscreen and are worried about clogging the pores and more acne, they would skip sunscreen (I was in the same boat in my teenage years). It takes time to find a gentle cleanser and a sunscreen you like, but they're the most important investments to prevent further damage!


2) It's common for people to not know the products they're using well.
We've seen people using pre-cleanser/makeup remover as their main cleanser (I think skincare companies with confusing product names & unclear instructions are also at fault here); we've seen people using moisturizers with SPF for both AM and PM; we've seen people continue using their cleanser with strong acids without knowing while having irritation after overdosing retinol. Keeping up with a routine requires a lot of effort, knowing your product well is making sure your effort is not in vain, or even worse, causing further damage.


3) It's common for people to have a routine with too many products.
Maybe due to the popularity of the Korean 10 step routine, we saw a lot of people with routines of 10 or more products, quite a few of which contain duplicated or contradicting ingredients. For people with sensitive skin, less is really more.

4) It's common for people to get overly excited about actives.
I guess actives and cosmetic chemistry make us feel empowered like witches making magic potion to maintain youth and beauty. Some people mix too many actives without understanding their interplay; some people apply high strength actives which are supposed to be spot treatments for the full face and we've got a lot of questions on whether they should ask their dermatologists for a prescription of higher strength. We really need to remind ourselves that actives though powerful, a lot of them do have side effects, so always patch testing, introducing one active at a time, starting sparingly and working your way up.
5) It's common for people to panic during breakout and cause more damage.
When some people are experiencing breakouts/flareups, they alarmingly put high strength actives and other solutions they heard about on their face all at once, in the hope to suppress whatever is coming up. However, this is really the time to get back to minimal and give your skin the time to heal with the least irritation possible.

6) It's common for people to be bothered by their skin imperfections that only they could see.
It's true that we all look at ourselves under magnifying glasses. Interestingly people who got the consultation result not impressed are the ones who were told their skin looks healthy and beautiful. It's indeed unsatisfying to not getting your concerns acknowledged. Often times it's hard to un-notice those imperfections you notice (I, myself, fall culprit to this as well), but besides skincare, accepting oneself is another important lesson for self-care.
Lu Li
Co-founder @Glowism
Formerly @Google, @Foursquare, @Stanford
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