10 skin care mistakes made when I was younger

young and reckless

I know a number of readers here are quite young and fall in the early 20s age group. So I thought I’ll do a post today about the skin care mistakes I committed when I was in my 20s. While many of you are already very beauty savvy, I still hope that some of you can learn from my mistakes and avoid what I did wrong when I was younger. Like they say, better early than late!

1. Not understanding my skin type
I only started going to the beauty counters maybe in my early 20s – in part because I couldn’t be bothered and in part because I couldn’t afford to. I had no idea what was my skin type. I just used whatever I saw on my mom’s vanity table. I could have been using all the wrong products but the thing was, I never knew. What was lucky was, my skin was rather good as a whole and I never suffered any breakouts and acne was never my concern.

Advice: Get your skin type determined. There are many offline and online resources these days that can help you do this. And to be doubly sure, tally that result with a test done at the beauty counter.  Having a correct analysis of your skin type is important as it will determine what products you should be using or avoiding.

2. Not giving much thoughts to my cleanser
I started using soap when I was in college. My first soap was a Neutrogena soap and I like it very much then. A few years later, I moved on to using the soap from Clinque and I remember it worked quite well for me. My problem was, I never knew much about cleansing. I thought it was merely to keep my skin oil free. I can’t say if those soaps stripped my skin of its natural lipids since I knew zilch about that then but if I were to be able to go back in time, I probably would have been more discerning. The good thing for me back then was, I hardly use makeup and I at least avoided those cleansers that left my skin tight and taut.

Advice: Be more selective about your facial cleanser. Choose one that does not contain SLS or if it does, it should not be listed right at the top. Don’t think that you can afford to use any cleansers just because you do not leave the product on your face for a long period. If your face is stripped off its natural lipids, you’re going to live with a host of other problems later.

3. Not cleansing thorougly enough
I started putting on makeup only when I started working. Again, I had no idea about the importance of proper makeup remover and of course, the concept of double cleansing was totally alien to me. Apart from using baby oil to remove my eye makeup, I only used my soaps to cleanse my face. Now I know it wasn’t good enough but the good thing for me then was, I never wore thick makeup so I didn’t have to live with much damage. The only times were when I went to sleep with my makeup after having too much to drink or when I got lazy.

Advice: Double cleanse. Get a makeup remover in the form of a milk cleanser or oil cleanser. Cleanse twice with these or use a foaming or gel cleanser the second time around if you dislike the reside left by the milk or oil cleansers.

4. Not moisturizing enough
I never understood the concept of moisturizing until I started using Clinque’s 3-step skin care routine. I remember my face was rather dry when I was in the university and I only realized we needed to moisturize after seeing skin care products in my best friend’s cupboard at the hostel. Horrors of horrors!

Advice: Choose an appropriate moisturizer to fit your skin type and moisturize religiously after cleansing your face every single day!

5. Not using a sunscreen
This was the biggest regret for me. I came from a generation that was never educated on the importance of using sunscreen. We never had the benefit of the Internet and face it, the importance of using sunscreen only surfaced these recent years. If only I knew, I would have slathered on sunscreen religiously but no. I swam about thrice a week under the hot sun as a teen and I went canoeing, rock climbing and trekking all without using a proper sunscreen. Maybe I did use something that I can’t remember now but I’m certain it wasn’t enough and that is why I’m now living with the damage.

Advice: Definitely use a sunscreen if you’re heading out for sports. Make sure you’re using something to protect your skin from both the UVA and UVB rays. In addition, wear protective gear like sunglasses and hats. For daily usage, a moisturizer with SPF can do the trick if you’re someone who hates applying sunscreen.  Of course nothing beats using a proper sunscreen.

6.  Not discriminating about skin care products
I wouldn’t call myself a beauty junkie when I was younger but I wasn’t very discriminating about what I applied on my skin either.  Well, I didn’t know better…and I was also gullible.  So I fell for some of the sales talks and went for products I totally did not need or treatments I shouldn’t have done.  I remember using an eye cream that was so rich, it contributed to milia seeds for me.

Advice:  Know your skin type and use only what is necessary.  While there is no harm to start on an anti-aging regimen when you’re younger, some of these products are unnecessary with their potent ingredients and may give you more grief than joy.  Be selective!

7.  Not caring from my neck down
It’s totally laughable that I have to come to my current age to understand that the other parts of my body are going to give my age away if I never cared for them properly.  Well, it wasn’t pure ignorance but more like, I was plain lazy!  So I never really cared that much about applying moisturizers to my neck or my body.  In fact, I only started applying sunscreen on my neck and hands these recent years!  Better late than never they say.

Advice:  Extend whatever goodies you’re using on your face to your neck and moisturize your hands and your body religiously every day if you want them to look good too.  It’s a bit of work there but you’ll be thankful someday.

8.  Not sleeping on my back
I used to sleep on my left side, right up to last year.   So my left side of the face is slightly flatter and also, I have more wrinkles on that side of the face!  Perhaps there were other reasons, but I believe, the wrinkles were hugely a result of my sleeping posture.

Advice:  Sleep on your back!  Or invest in a soft pillow.

9.  Not watching my diet
This is probably something we all go through when we’re young – eating indiscriminately.  I ate lots of junk food and drank lots of coke!  I went on binge drinking at one stage of my life; downing alcohol almost every other night.  The only good thing was that my mom cooked me lots of nutritious food as well so that probably helped counter some of those negative impacts.

Advice:  Watch your diet!  It might be a bit hard for some of you to be selective about what you eat but at the least, don’t eat too much sweet stuff and don’t drink too much canned beverages!  Avoid the alcohol at all costs!

10.  Not drinking enough water
This is a huge problem for me, even up to now.  So I’m always told I’m not drinking enough.  My skin suffers from it too because it’s not as hydrated as it should be.

Advice:  Drink lots of water.  Canned drinks and cokes don’t count.  And don’t wait till you’re thirsty before you take a sip because you should be hydrated from inside out.

It’s easy to take some of these advices for granted when we’re young especially because our skin can heal relatively fast and in certain cases, the damages do not appear until we are much older.  But like I mentioned, better early than late! And remember, at the end of the day, the best skin care products can only help provide 40% of the desirable results. The rest of the 60% comes from your lifestyle and your diet. So start nourishing your skin from inside out as early as possible!


  1. stella says:

    spot on, i made almost all of those mistakes too in my teen and early 20s. i also used really harsh products on my oily acne prone skin like tons of alcohol, scrub, mattifying powdery things, picked my skin etc. etc. horrors! unfortunately my mother didn’t know any better as she always had perfect skin all her life (i inherited my father’s skin, boohoo!), good thing the internet came along! and thankfully my skin is behaving more than my mother’s now but it’s still healing after years of abuse!

  2. ayn says:

    I only gave importance to my skin recently! yah better late than never (lol!) good thing I’m still on my early 20s ? better start to focus on my skin or else I’ll just get mad on myself later on…

  3. Bee says:

    What would be a good age to start on anti-aging products such as eye cream?

  4. Ivy says:

    thanks! im in my late twenties, not early..abit late for you pointers… but your 10 steps is still educational for me… need to brush up point 4,5,7, 9 and 10 which i always neglect (lazy sometimes)…

  5. Angie says:

    Thanks for the advices!
    I’m in my early twenties and I’m guilty of some of the mistakes here! Certainly, I don’t want to see the damage years down the road…

  6. zhenling says:

    would like to add that cutting out junk food and fried food plus dinking more water helped in managing my acne. more than any topical product has. oh yes and managing stress too.

  7. FG says:

    This is of great use and helps to overcome the common mistakes we make in skin care.This helps us to remain younger with glowing skin forever.

  8. Pigita says:

    I too have left my twenties far far behind.

    And yes, I committed ALL the same mistakes you’ve listed there, every single one of them!

    Didnt have any good advisers at that time – so all you lucky young readers here, take note!!

  9. Amanda says:

    Great advice!

    I’ve already made some of those mistakes, but I’m learning =).

    I’ve only recently taken an interest in skin care and I’m so glad I have done so! Researching ingredients have really paid off.

  10. pf1123 says:

    Oh gosh, I did those things too..I’m just plain lazy and ignorant about skincare. haha…

  11. sesame says:

    Yes, picking is bad and because I never had an issue with acne, picking wasn’t in the list. But you know what? It is now!

    Good that your skin is behaving and truly, the Internet is so wonderful…I wish I had access to it earlier.

  12. sesame says:

    Yes, better late than never.

  13. sesame says:

    You can start in your 20s no problem…but no need to choose one that is rich. Just use a gel or a light lotion like eye cream. Some girls say it’s okay to use moisturizer but I hesitate to recommend cos not all moisturizers are suitable.

  14. sesame says:

    It’s applicable to those in their 20s…so it’s not too late. Some in their 30s may also not be too aware and can use some of these tips.

  15. sesame says:

    Yes, take good care of your skin when you’re young. Don’t take it for granted like me…

  16. sesame says:

    Yes, diet is important especially for certain pple who breakout easily. You’re also spot on about managing stress!

  17. sesame says:

    Sure do…by the way, I do not allow comments using SEO names.

  18. sesame says:

    Haha…looks like we’re in the same clique! The younger generation really are lucky to have the Internet for all the info helpful to them.

  19. sesame says:

    It’s not too late! Reading more about ingredients is definitely beneficial.

  20. sesame says:

    Ya, many a times, we’re lazy and sometimes can’t be bothered to find out more. Quite common that most pple usually wait till there are problems before they start checking for answers.

  21. Leon says:

    Very helpful Advices. Smoking could be another culprit which makes your skin look horrible(at least my skin looked bad when I used to smoke).

  22. coco says:

    looking back i made a lot of mistake in my 20s too!

  23. pf1123 says:

    Oh yeah, what Leon says is true. Smoking makes the skin looks terrible and age women a lot. I don’t understand why women smoke.

  24. Jyoan says:

    What you say is really true. Very good reminder for me, and it will definitely help those who don’t know these yet.

    Right now, I am just feeling so awfully glad that I grew up with the internet.

    Yet, I think 20s is still way too late. Especially for sun protection and neck care.

    I am sort of doing my best, yet simply waiting for those sun spots to surface. Cos all the damage has been done in my first 18 years. It’s only a matter of time… … hahaha.

  25. Jyoan says:

    And to the other readers, agree with the smoking part. I myself know a few girls who smoke, so they have faces that look so much older than their real age, yet figures that are still very good. Such a pity.

  26. Carla says:

    I used to be so lazy and ignorant about skincare, but now that I’ve turned 25 it hit me like a train: I AM AGEING.
    Now that I’ve educated myself about ingredients I’ve stopped putting junk on my face and only use certified organic & natural products. I’m definitely gonna start to put on moisturizer from the neck down too hehe, Thanx for the tip!

  27. sesame says:

    Never mind…we can still learn from those mistakes and make amends…better late than never!

  28. sesame says:

    Not forgetting the way they puff would cause more wrinkles around their lips…

  29. sesame says:

    Yes, it’s good to start early. My sun damage started when I was in my teens so it was accumulative for sure. But with today’s technology and wonder products, it is possible to keep some of these under control.

    On another note, please check your email.

  30. sesame says:

    You did? Quite unthinkable…but at least you quit early.

    Lucky I never picked up smoking. Hate the smell.

  31. sesame says:

    They probably think it looks cool.

  32. sesame says:

    It is not too late at 25. If you are careful about your products and your lifestyle, it is possible to reverse some of the earlier damage. Yeah, don’t be lazy like me.

  33. Juny says:

    What can you do to minimize the wrinkling on the forehead? I guess I didn’t put that moisturizer on it because whenever I do I always break out so sometimes I don’t put any moisturizer on my forehead, hence making it dry and pronouncing wrinkles whenever I lift my eyebrows up!

  34. Juny says:

    Oh gosh, huge run-on sentence there. I’m embarrased, my apologies.

  35. Yanley says:

    Just sharing my two cents worth. Agree drinking water is good but too much isn’t good too. Recently was admited to hospital to due to excessive water drinking that causes low sodium levels.I was taking abt 1.5-2litres of water a day and my diet was pretty much less salt. You wouldn’t know your drinking too much water till your body gives way. So ya keep to 8-10 glasses a day should be safe enough .

  36. Angel says:

    Thanks for all the tips! I am part of your 20’s age group of readers and I find your tips very helpful!
    I think it’s a good idea to be reminded even if we have heard it before. ?

    A year ago I started to pay more attention to my diet, I don’t drink soda anymore and don’t drink alcohol or smoke.
    I also started to apply sunscreen almost everyday and am religious about wearing sunglasses and taking vitamins!

  37. Yvette says:

    i am so glad that you posted this! Thank you for the advice. I’m 21 right now and I will definitely keep these tips in mind. My weakness is sweet food though. I really need to control that…

  38. msfatgraycat says:

    I am in my 20s and I am trying very hard to do the diet & exercise thing.
    Its easier said than done! I know the effects probably won’t show till a few years later but it’s not easy to do something when you don’t see any immediate impact.

  39. chenyze says:

    to Yanley: what was your diet like? Because I’m drinking about that much water now, although my diet isn’t really the healthiest – lots of coffee/tea, oily food and chocolates x= And what were the symptoms you faced when you had too much water?

    I noticed this really weird thing. When I’m not drinking much water, i don’t even feel thirsty. yet when I am drinking water continuously, I get thirsty very easily. What gives?!

  40. sesame says:

    Hmm…you should be moisturizing your forehead as well. Did you try a different product or you tend to breakout with most products. Forehead tends to show lines early cos of our expressions. So massages with oil helps ease some of these lines overtime.

  41. sesame says:

    Woah…this has not been on my radar. Haven’t given any thoughts to drinking too much water cos most pple I know don’t drink enough. My guideline is 8 – 10 glasses – which I can hardly keep up.

  42. sesame says:

    That’s a good start Angel. I wish I had the advice when I was your age. *sigh* But I wonder if I would have the discipline even with the advice given.

  43. sesame says:

    Haha…you’ve got a sweet tooth! Some food are really hard to resist…for me, it’s chocolates!

  44. sesame says:

    Yes, we tend to take some things for granted when we’re younger. And if we don’t see the damage, then it’s out of sight, out of mind.

  45. Dawn says:

    I was just wondering if you could tell me your skincare routine?

    I’m currently 18..so I guess those 10 mistakes mentioned above..I’m currently mostly guilty of them! >0<'''

    I am trying my best to use sunscreen.. Olay one [Is it alright?] and I use Cetaphil cleanser and Nivea Oxygen for Night use.

    Hope to hear from you soon!

  46. Leon says:

    Yes dear, but I quit smoking within a year:)

  47. everbluec says:

    I don’t remember where I read it from.. but it’s good to sleep especially on our right side, Cos sleeping on our back can further damage our spinal bone and sleeping on our right is becos most of the majar organs(heart) are on our left.

    And sleeping on our side also prevent our wind pipe from blocking. Our tongue can stretch out more when we sleep on our side prevent it from falling back towards our throat.

  48. OceanBlue says:

    I’m going to turn 20 in about a month’s time, and thanks to this blog I have just started using sunscreen on a daily basis. I know that most sun damage happens in childhood when skin is most vulnerable and more time is spent playing outdoors, but hopefully it’s not too late for me! So, on behalf of my 45 year old self, I would like to thank you a lot. ?

    You might want to add something about acne and certain acne treatments. Suffering from acne means that skin ages faster, since skin is almost constantly “wounded” or inflamed. (Studies confirm that acne suffers on average look anything from 4-7 years older!) So for the long term beauty of your skin, it’s super-important to treat acne ASAP.

    However, some acne treatments themselves can also age the skin. For example, benzyl peroxide (the main ingredient of many OTC acne treatments) creates free radicals in the skin.

    Personally, one of my biggest skincare regrets is that before I started using sunscreen I took two 7 month courses of Isotretinoin – an anti acne drug which makes skin very vulnerable to UV damage, even for several months after treatment. Not even my dermatologist warned me about these side effects of acne treatments – like you I had to find out over the internet for myself.

    The only thing now is to get my suncreen to absorb without rubbing…

  49. sesame says:

    When I was pregnant, I slept on my right I think…it’s supposed to be better for the baby. But I’ve never heard about sleeping on our back damaging our spinal bone. Doesn’t that depend on the quality of our mattress?

  50. sesame says:

    I didn’t add acne here cos it wasn’t a concern for me back then. But you’re right that many young pple are plagued by this problem and some treatments cause more harm than good for the skin in the long term.

    I’m glad you’re using sunscreen religiously. This is probably the product you want to invest well in. ?

  51. everbluec says:

    I remember somethings.. like the spinal bone around our waist/hips there are more curve in.. so laying flat on our back force the bone to sunk into the position when we laying flat and when we sleep on the side.. the bone was in a straight line. (somethings like that)

  52. Marina says:

    I read a lot about #8 lately and it’s the hardest thing for me too sleep on my back. But I am trying!
    Although I have no problem with other 9 thing you’ve mentioned thank you for reminding them.

  53. Marina says:

    I am sorry I could not edit my comment
    * to sleep
    * 9 Things

  54. Yanley says:

    chenyze: was more or less on the protein diet. I can eat anything except no carbs. Drank lots of water cos you felt thirsty and not hungry as what the doctors thought( in fact I was dreading eating cos you were full most of the time) Not much sugar in my diet. The protein diet does work but well learned something from the doctor, water binds to carbs so when you cut off carbs, your body is in lack of water so you drink more and in the process, dilutes the sodium levels in your body.
    Sesame: Oh 8-10 glasses includes all liquids(ie: coffee, soda, soup, anything) I thought it wasn’t easy to hit it..but actually its pretty easy to hit it..

  55. sesame says:

    Ah…so it’s a bit of a problem for our face then…I guess the best option is to invest in some soft pillows.

  56. sesame says:

    That’s great! You’ll still have youthful looking skin in years to come then. ?

  57. sesame says:

    Ei…no worries…I make typos all the time too!

  58. sesame says:

    Your diet sounds like my husband’s. He’s also into low carbs and more protein. And he drinks like tubs of water but still told recently that he’s not drinking enough!

  59. everbluec says:

    From one of the taiwanese show.. it say that the models love using silk pillow casing… it’s prevent causing wrinkles and sleep lines on their faces!

  60. sesame says:

    Yes, silk pillow casing are recommended…but it’s very expensive. ? So the next best alternative is a soft pillow for me.

  61. OceanBlue says:

    Everyone discussing silk pillow cases/sleeping on your back might want to read this link


    A company selling silk pillow cases was forced to take its adverts off the market when the claims they were making about cotton pillows causing wrinkling were found to be false. As beauty junkies I’m sure that we’ve all seen many products making impossible claims, but for the government to actually intervene and ban them, shows that this must have been particularly outrageous.

    Maybe something else caused the wrinkles on that side of your face. For example, I’ve read that some women’s faces age faster on a particular side due to one sided sun expose when driving. Or maybe one side of your face is more expressive than the other – I know it sounds weird but I’ve actually seen this happen! I noticed that photos of my aunt always show her smiling more with the left side of her face…her least good side :-0

  62. sesame says:

    I’ve read that article at beauty brains. I see where the govt is coming from because something like this is hard to prove. I still believe it is true that how we sleep will affect our face but what you stated also makes sense. I tend to smile in a certain way that creates more lines around the mouth on that side of the face. I think wrinkles is a combination of different factors as well.

  63. Yanley says:

    Ooo.. Actually the low carbs diet does work to a certain extend. However, it can’t be a stricly NO carbs diet. I was practically off carbs for two weeks. The first symptom for me was gastric then headache and chestpains. Subsequently it went to severe vomiting, I couldn’t keep any food down and could only take in water. This might have aggravated my situation. All the doctors said was gastric.. ( I ought to sue the doctors for malpractice
    I guess drinking tubs of water is fine.. so long as you do take in some carbs.Just tell yourself alittle won’t kill you.

  64. sesame says:

    Yes, still have to take some carbs but of a different quality I was told. Like wheat, etc. Not too familiar with this…my husband is the one who is very particular. I just eat. ?

  65. Dil says:

    wow, thnx for all the posts. i’m learning alot from here.

    i’m 19 this year and i sorta beginning to treat my skin even though its been problamatic for YEARS. i’ve got eczema and i think thats one of the reasons my face is dry. i usually have get an acne or two before periods, and it takes ages to go away. problem is, pimples also tend to appear. and i’ve got blackheads and large pores. when i was young, my mom didnt actually teach me to care for my skin, and since i lived at home with no female siblings, i didnt know anything bout facial care. by the time i was 15 in middle school, i was too lazy to care.
    oh, and now my mom makes me go for free facial trials. problem is, she wont let me buy the products recommended for me, thinking that normal products would be okay for me.another sad thing is, my mom buys me products to lighten my skin, when i’m already fair and my real problem is pores. so i usually just chuck out the stuffs she gives and buy my own. lol.

    and i’ll try really hard on the diet part!!

  66. sesame says:

    Sometimes it’s tough when you’re young. I faced the same problem as you, especially cos being young means a lack of budget and financial independence. Perhaps you can tell your mom that the whitening stuff won’t do for your skin – they can make your skin more sensitive due to the whitening ingredients and if you have eczema, then you need to treat your skin more gently.

  67. w89 says:

    hi, thanks for this article. i am 20y/o right now and i realized i do alot of reckless things on ur lists but luckily i am reminded not to do so!

  68. sesame says:

    Yes, prevention starts early. ?

  69. xin says:

    ok interesting to read an old post. and certainly did not expect you to be a binge drinker! ><

    one mistake i have realized recently is the lack of sunscreen on my arms ? I knew about it but never expected the consequences to resurface earlier than I thought. I have some annoying spots on my arms now ? and I have been religiously applying sunscreen twice a day on body since starting this year
    xin last post is: Friday Fun: Do you apply lipstick in the car?

  70. Sesame Chew says:

    Well, those were the not so glorious days. That’s why I wrote about being young and reckless. ?

  71. Issho Genki says:

    These mistakes will really hurt us in the future so as early as today we should start taking care of our skin to avoid certain problems when we grow old.

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