This Is Hands-Down the Most Common Skincare Mistake Women Make

I've committed many skincare faux pas in my life-I slept in makeup countless times in college, skimped on the sunscreen for most of my teenage years, and even went to the tanning salon in the early 2000s (I blame Laguna Beach). On the opposite end of the spectrum, fully embracing skincare-something I started doing in my mid-20s-is laden with a whole new host of possible mistakes.

"Succumbing to skincare is an exciting, wild ride," writes Into the Gloss's senior editor Emily Ferber. As a bona fide skincare connoisseur, Ferber shared the most common blunders that she herself has committed-and trying too many products at once headlined her list. "This is Beauty Editor Tenet #1," she writes. "A complete and total routine overhaul can happen, but if you change everything at once, how will you know what's working? Or more importantly, what's not working?"

If you're just now dipping your toes into the world of skincare, she recommends thinking about it like this: "Maybe you have a cleanser and a moisturizer. First, start using those regularly for a week. Then use those regularly and add in a toner," she advises. "See how it goes, then maybe try a mask on Thursdays… And so on and so forth. Steady as she goes." Not only is product-hopping counter-productive to your journey to achieving improved skin, it can leave you guessing when an allergic reaction comes into play. If you can't confidently trace the reaction back to a single product, you might have trouble addressing your symptoms, and you won't be able to identify the product or ingredient to avoid in the future.

The second-most essential skincare principle? Patience. The waiting game is an integral part of any skincare regimen because, as Ferber points out, "skin is a persnickety organ; it likes to do things at its own pace." As your skin cycles through its natural process of shedding and regenerating, that dewy-fresh visage you're hoping to achieve may take as many as seven weeks to reveal itself. "Let your skin turn over (several times if you can stand it) before you pass judgement on that anti-aging serum," says Ferber. In other words, persistence is key.

Of course, you shouldn't give the benefit of the doubt to products that cause you to break out or have an allergic reaction, and you should always give your board-certified dermatologist a call with any unnerving symptoms. After all, self-diagnosing is among the top skincare mistakes that dermatologists wish their patients wouldn't make. So the next time a sketchy-looking mole, a case of contact dermatitis, or a zit sends you down an internet rabbit hole, step away from your laptop and call your dermatologist instead. He or she is well-equipped to make those tough diagnoses that leave the untrained eye guessing, and why would you leave your skin-and your health-in anything less than expert care?

Head over to Into the Gloss for the rest of Ferber's list, and read up on why a humidifier should be your wintertime skincare essential next.