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The "Rules" of Skin Care That You Should Be Breaking

School days mean it's time for a routine, especially when it comes to your skin. But what if the routine you swear by is actually ruining your skin? Wait until you see these sneaky ways your skin care habits are causing wrinkles, zits, and more
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Fall is all about getting into a routine. After the lazy days of summer, there's something about applying a strict order to your life that feels incredibly satisfying. Some of these routines we never question. Brush your teeth in the morning, take your makeup off before you go to sleep, wash your face twice a day for clear skin.

But what if we told you that one of the above routines couldn't be more wrong?

Many of us have been following the same skin care regimens our whole lives, which we learned from our moms, who learned from their moms, and so on. We thought they were the perfect way to keep our faces clear and wrinkle-free. Turns out we were wrong.

Click here to see seven skin care habits that are ruining your skin.

Even something as simple as washing your face twice a day could be the reason for your crow's feet and pimples -- and that's just the beginning. To find out exactly what skin care "rules" to stop living by, we assembled a healthy skin dream team: Dr. Semira Bayati, an Orange County, Calif.-based cosmetic plastic surgeon; Alexandra Spunt and Siobhan O'Connor, authors of "No More Dirty Looks: The Truth About Your Beauty Products;" New York City dermatologist Dr. Jeannette Graf; and Dr. Michael Gold, a dermatologist in Nashville, Tenn.

They shared with us the outdated and overrated skin care advice they wish we'd all stop following, and offered some new, must-try tips to add to our regimens. Ready to go back to skin care school? Check out the seven skin care rules are keeping you from perfect skin.

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Rule No. 1: You should wash your face twice a day
While we're not saying you should abandon hygiene all together, Spunt and O'Connor say that you don't always need to wash twice a day. If you skipped wearing makeup and don't live in a polluted city, you can likely get away with sudsing up once a day or even every other day.

In fact, washing less can even be better for you. O'Connor says that cleansing (especially with a harsh product) strips your face of its natural, hydrating oils, drying skin out and also leaving it vulnerable to bacteria. Do that too often, and you could be looking at zit-causing bacteria making its way into your pores.

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Rule No. 2: Exfoliating often is crucial
We think of dead skin cells as the enemy, but they do serve a purpose, says Gold. What does the skin you don't slough off do? It shields your complexion from environmental pollutants and bacteria. Rather than scrubbing daily, you should only exfoliate once every two weeks, Gold says.

Graf also points out that it's not just how often you exfoliate, but the type of exfoliator you're using that also matters. She recommends avoiding face scrubs because "the sharp edges of the particles in some scrubs made from apricot pits and walnut shells can injure the skin." Instead, try chemical exfoliants (like alpha hydroxy, glycolic, or lactic acid) or more gentle scrubs made from rice or synthetic beads. Graff says to look for products that say they are gentle enough for daily use (but you should still only use them every two weeks). Chemical exfoliants may give you a slight tingly feeling, but if you're ending up with red or irritated skin, the product is too intense and you should try something gentler (look for lower concentrations of the active ingredients).

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Rule No. 3: Retin-A and retinol are just for wrinkles
The truth: Gold says these ingredients are for everyone. Or at least, everyone who wants help with acne, wrinkles, pore size, skin care prevention, or skin tone (so, as we said, everyone).

Gold adds that retinol has been around for close to 50 years and has a ton of research to prove its safeness. So rather than jumping from fad ingredient to fad ingredient, he recommends sticking with tried and true retinol to fix almost any skin issue.

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Rule No. 4: Acne-prone or oily skin should always use 'oil-free' products
There are a few things wrong with this rule. First, Graf says that "oil-free" isn't even a regulated term. Essentially, a brand could slap it on almost any product, so it's no guarantee that you won't get zits.

Second reason to ignore this label: Even the oiliest skin needs moisture, says Bayati. Skipping oil can lead to skin that's chronically dry, which is when skin starts to produce more oil.

Finally, Spunt and O'Connor say all skin actually needs oil -- as long as it's the right type. "We've been told to avoid oils, but there are some, like argan and coconut oil, that are skin compatible, absorb well, and even work [to prevent] acne," they say. "[These oils] have antibacterial properties and can help balance the skin." So while it may seem strange to slather on some lavender or argan oil over your broken-out skin, it may just do the trick.

SEP 2, 2013 | SHARES
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