You wash your face in the morning and at night.
Cleansing too frequently can strip the skin, leading to dry patches and irritation, says Emmy Graber, MD, president of the Dermatology Institute of Boston. At night, remove oil, dirt, and makeup with a gentle, nonsoap face wash. In the morning, don't bother with a cleanser—for many complexions, a few splashes of water is enough.
You love your super-sudsy cleanser.
If it produces a rich, soapy lather, your face wash is likely too harsh for your skin, says Graber. Surfactants—ingredients that generate bubbles—can remove the skin's natural oils (along with dirt and makeup), exacerbating dryness. Opt for a creamy formula.
Fresh Soy Face Cleansing Milk, $38; Fresh.com
You rinse with hot water.
While hot water may feel good, it can deplete your skin's natural moisturizers, including fatty acids and lipids, says Valerie Callender, MD, a dermatologist in Glenn Dale, Maryland. Very cold water can also be damaging, so wash with lukewarm instead, says Graber.
You exfoliate every day.
A gentle face scrub or chemical exfoliant can brighten your complexion and slough off surface cells, allowing the active ingredients in your products to penetrate better, says Callender. But exfoliating more than once or twice a week or using abrasive scrubs can create microtears, resulting in parched, irritated skin, says Graber.
Murad Rapid Resurfacing Peel, $44 for 16-pack; Murad.com
You've made toning part of your daily routine.
Even if you typically have an oily complexion, you may want to lay off the toner; many contain ingredients like alcohol and propylene glycol, which can intensify dryness, especially during winter, says Callender.
You're still loyal to the moisturizer you used in your 20s.
We bet you've noticed: Skin texture changes as you age. The most notable difference? You're not naturally producing as much oil. If you're still using a lightweight lotion, replace it with a super-emollient formula containing a mix of hydrators like ceramides, which strengthen the skin barrier and prevent water loss, and hyaluronic acid and glycerin, which draw moisture to the skin, says Graber.
Avène Tolérance Extrême Cream, $38; AveneUSA.com
You're trying to tackle several complexion issues with one cream.
You might love the convenience of a moisturizer with antiaging or acne-fighting ingredients, but a product with too many actives may irritate delicate skin, says Arielle Kauvar, MD, clinical professor of dermatology at New York University Langone Medical Center. It's best to limit antiaging or acne-fighting ingredients to one product, like a serum; apply that first, then layer on a simple moisturizer.
Perricone MD Pre:Empt Series Skin Perfecting Serum, $90; Sephora.com
You believe any moisturizer labeled "Natural" or "Organic" must be good for your skin.
The reality: People can develop allergies to essential oils like chamomile, lavender, and tea tree, says Graber. If that's the case, these ingredients can worsen redness, flakiness, and dryness. If you love oils, look for a product containing jojoba or olive oil—both hydrate while rarely causing irritation.
Malin + Goetz Recovery Treatment Oil, $82; MalinAndGoetz.com
You avoid products with silicone.
Silicone has gotten an undeserved bad rap as a pore clogger—and it's actually a fantastic hydrating agent, says Graber. To give your moisturizer a boost, apply a primer formulated with silicone, which prevents moisture loss, before foundation.
It Cosmetics Bye Bye Pores Primer, $38; Sephora.com