One of the Most Common Skincare Mistakes (and How to Fix it!)

I’m going to let you in on one of the most important lessons I learned while working for Sephora in hopes that it can help anyone out there who has “tried everything” for their skin with no luck.

One of the most common scenarios I encountered went like this: I would spend almost an hour with a client trying to choose a skincare routine based on their needs, and a few days later, they would come back to the store to return everything they had picked out. The first question I would ask? “How often have you been using this product and for how long?” Sometimes the answer was, “I used it every other day for a few days and nothing happened,” or “I tried it out one night and the next day I had pimples!”.

While I wish MORE THAN ANYTHING that skincare products were magical one-time fixes, they typically aren’t. If we think of skincare like a DIY project, it’s more of a trial and error to figure out the best way to actually do the project than following a DIY blog post where you follow the steps one time and know the result you’re going to get. Very seldom will you enjoy a “finished product,” or in this case, happy skin, after one try of a product.

Going back to those Sephora returns, we usually recommended that clients take the products back home and use them for two weeks before throwing in the towel and returning them. It was staggering to see how many of those same people we would see a month or two later, back to buy the products they almost returned. What changed? Fair trial/consistency. If your skincare products aren’t performing the way you thought they would or you’re breaking out on the first few uses (breakouts/pimples are completely different from a rash—if you are experiencing a rash, discontinue use of the product immediately), commit to giving the product two to three weeks to give you results.

By giving your products a fair trial of two to three weeks, you’re allowing them to have the time they need to see you through changes like hormones and weather, and you’re giving your skin a chance to adjust to ingredients it may need time to familiarize itself with. I liken this to drinking celery juice: When I first started drinking it, I was honestly almost sick over how gross it tasted. After a week, I could tolerate the taste, and after two weeks I started to enjoy the flavor and could really see and feel its benefits. Your body just needs time to adjust to things sometimes.

Now, let’s talk consistency. If you have a cleanser that says “use twice a day,” you know what to do! I would say in any case of a cleanser, using it twice a day is a good way to go. Your skin needs to be cleansed of dead skin cells that it’s shed off at night each morning (and any other dirt/dust that might be on your skin while you sleep), and of course every night it’s key to cleanse your skin of any makeup or undesirable material that it’s accumulated throughout the day. In the case of a mask or exfoliating treatment, those only need to be used twice a week. Which brings me to my next point: overuse!

One of my favorite points to illustrate overuse is the Clarisonic cleansing brush, which is ultimately an exfoliating tool. A common complaint is that people were constantly broken out over their Clarisonic with no end in sight, and that’s usually because they were overdoing it and overstimulating oil production. Using something like that 2-3 times a week is more than plenty, even with the sensitive skin brush. You’re basically cleaning your face with a giant sonic toothbrush, which is pretty intense!

To sum it all up, use your products long enough (at least 2-3 weeks) and consistently enough (if you’re unsure after looking at the directions on the packaging, ask the store you purchased from or email the company) before determining whether they don’t work for you, and also beware of overuse! These few adjustments can be total game changers for your skincare routine.

xo, Keely

Credits // Author: Keely Rust Photography: Amber Ulmer. Photos edited with A Color Story Desktop.
  • You are quite right about consistently using a product for a time to see if you get results. Its not always easy because we all want results asap.
    But the reason i am leaving a comment is because of Sephora. Question! Where on earth did you work in a Sephora where you could spend up to an hour helping a customer?? Where i live you are lucky to get 30 seconds of attention,during which the staff are distracted and listening to their headphone.Someone told me its because management are telling them to go look somewhere else in case of shoplifting. Or maybe the manager thinks they will spend too long with someone because they are older and not the target audience,Thus, i never go into Sephora, but i don’t miss it and i don’t mind not going in there because they sell products at a higher price than other places..

    • Hi Fran! I was the Education Lead, so whenever I wasn’t the manager on duty, I was mostly helping clients. 🙂 You can always leave a survey for your Sephora location to give feedback. It really is a bummer when clients don’t get the help they need, everyone’s needs are so different!

  • So true. I have learned the last few weeks skincare takes time. I used Accutane over 20 years ago. It was the best my skin ever looked. At 51 I’ve tried a few things in last few years. Worked for a while and skin returns to dull and blemished prone. Lately I’m doing the work it requires to get it to what I want. Work it is… I was thinking I spend a lot of time showering so why not spend more than 5 minutes treating my face. Vitamin C is a great find. Castor oil. Clay masks. Face roller and massage are awesome too. I like CeraVe better than cetaphil which is recommended by most dermatologists. Trying and finding new products and numerous websites with great info. Do the work and you will be amazed.????

  • Hi,

    I’m 44 with skin that breaks out very easily, especially due to hormones, and has done for my entire life. I just switched to a cleanser with 10% benzoyle peroxide and it cleared up my skin in a week! It’s not a “naturally safe product”, but it worked wonders for me. It’s called PanOxyl. I use it once a day so it doesn’t dry out my skin, and moisturize with a tiny bit of argan oil (from Trader Joe’s-it’s amazing!) morning and night. Hopefully that will help! 🙂

    This is so true! Our skin goes through a cycle every 30 (ish) days. It takes time to see progress and so many of us are expecting a quick fix. Remember….anything quick, will not last!
    I’m turning 50 in a couple days and have just started to see the loose skin around my eyes. I’m virtually wrinkle free….that didn’t happen overnight, I’ve been taking care of my skin seriously since I was 24. I distinctly remember the day I went to a very nice spa (a divorce present to myself….I could NOT afford it, but I didn’t care!) and I walked out feeling beautiful with a bag full of high end skin care.
    I used the best I could save for (usually on Natural products…leave the chemicals alone) for the next 26 years and now at the eve of my 50th I am so glad I took the time to learn what was good for my skin.

    Learn about your skin care, read up on the ingredients and take the time (at least 30 days) to see if it works for you. You won’t regret it ????

    Oh and….use the most gentle cleanser possible, regardless of skin type. It’s not the product that washes the skin, it’s the length of time that you wash and rinse. Oily skin…wash for at least a minute (time it, you will be surprised how long a minute is) and rinse well. Take time for yourself everyone, you deserve it!

  • I also think knowing your skin type and getting it tested by a credible person really helps know your skin. For example…I always thought I had oily skin because of my breakouts…and I kept using products for oily skin…thinking why isn’t this working. Constantly breaking out bad So I went to a professional to get a facial to see what type of skin I had and she recommended me products that changed my life literally saw results in a week. So now I only buy products that are for dry skin. And moisturize daily and use a really good face scrub for my face and a really great toner. I know what works and what doesn’t work for my skin now knowing this.

  • Thank you for your tips, Keely! I’ve always wanted to invest in a Clarisonic machine. Will definitely start saving for one! ❤️✨

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

  • This was so super helpful – thank you! I will take any and all skincare tips that you have 🙂

  • I’ve had skin problems my whole life. I was practically born with Acne. If over exfloiting is the main problem why sell anyone one of the brushes? You could change it out for a mask you know would have little likely hood too hurt people. Maybe look up the most popular ingredients people have a reaction too and avoid them. (This includes putting oil on your face) there are other natural ingredients that have less side effects that you could recommend. I’ve had products that work overnight and I’ve had products that take 6 weeks. I’d rather find a naturally safe product that I know would work great for most skin types that works instantly… I’ve wanted to much time on stuff to not work thanks you.

    • I feel exactly the same way! I don’t expect overnight results, but I go months and nothing. I’m nearly 44 and my skin is like a hormonal teenager. Something’s gotta give!!

      • In your case, you might want to start looking into the actual ingredients of the skincare products. Believe it, or not many well respected and well known skincare companies use various alcohols in their skincare, which many women, and men as they age find themselves, unknowingly develop allergic reactions too.

        It happened to me, around your age, maybe you’ve always had an allergy to it. I remember going to a dermatologist, what a joke he was. My face, first off looked horrifying, I didn’t even like going out in public, because it was severely broken out, in a rash, or something undefined, it was painful I knew that for sure. What he told me next, I wasn’t prepared for, since he had done no testing, of any kind, all he did was look at me, and said, “well, your skin is thinning.”
        Now something you should all know about me, is since I was 16 years old I always used the best products on my skin day and night, I stayed out of the sun, and I always used the latest technology, and here this man is, who didn’t bother running any tests told me, what he told me, and there’s not going to be anything I can do for my skin…yeah needless to say I never went back to him. Instead I started researching, and somehow I came across,
        Origins, “DR. WEILS PRODUCTS” which use a special kind of mushroom for healing. I can tell you right now, its been the ONLY THING WHICH WORKS FOR ME. My face cleared up, within weeks. In no way shape or form, am I compensated by them, or any skincare company. I just know what I’ve been through, and what finally worked for me.

        Maybe this can help you and others.

    • I absolutely agree with you on the harshness of certain tools and irritating ingredients but on that same note these tools(cleansing brush etc) have some really good results when used as directed. Also, whenever we start a new skincare regimen, it’s not uncommon for our skin to purge all the junk that has been trapped making it appear as if we are having a bad reaction but that goes away and after that is when the products will start to really go to work for us. It’s definitely not an overnight fix but it’s worth a little trial in order to get the promised results of the product.

      • Definitely! I think it’s intuitive to feel like the more you use it, the better off you’ll be. Sometimes they work a little too well and ya gotta scale back ; )

  • This post is so helpful. I am gonna stick to this three mantras if and when i try something new on my skin. Thanks for sharing.


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