Main content
The Biggest Skincare Mistakes You Could Be Making


8 Common Skincare Mistakes Made When Applying Products

Applying skincare products correctly can be a big factor in your routine’s success. Here, Kiehl’s shares 8 potential skincare mistakes and what to do instead.

Nobody’s perfect. But that shouldn’t stop you from striving for a skincare routine that’s as close to flawless as possible. If that doesn’t seem of much importance, consider how skincare mistakes can take a toll on your skin—sometimes, without you even noticing.

Now, we don’t mean that occasionally letting your eyes flutter closed with your makeup intact will derail your entire routine. What’s of more concern is the seemingly minor things that you may consistently get wrong when applying skincare products. Incorrect application can result in products not serving their intended purposes, dryness, sun-damaged skin, and more. The first step in correcting these mistakes is learning what you’re doing wrong—it might come as a surprise. Below, we’re sharing eight potential flaws you may find in your routine. Read on to discover how to better care for your skin (and the Kiehl’s products to help, of course).

1. You Apply Too Much Product

Maybe you’ve heard otherwise, but it is possible to have too much of a good thing. Case in point: Slathering on an excessive amount of your favorite moisturizer won’t necessarily make your skin extra nourished. Not only is applying too much product a waste, but it can also have side effects you might not have considered. When you overdo it with moisturizer, it can cause pilling (where your product balls up and won’t stay on your skin) and prevent the rest of your routine from layering properly.

You can use just a dime-sized amount of moisturizer to cover your face. This is how much Ultra Facial Cream With Squalane is needed to provide instant and lasting hydration. The formula with glycerin and squalane balances even skin’s driest areas with 2.3X more moisture, and absorbs easily, thanks to its lightweight texture.

While how much product to use differs based on type, the idea that you shouldn’t apply an excess of product is true across the board. For any of the formulas in your routine, use the directed amount to see best results.

2. You Get The Order Wrong

Your skincare routine isn’t a recipe where you can toss everything into the same bowl simultaneously and hope for the best. You need to apply each product properly, including putting them on in the right sequence. The order you apply products matters, because it allows each one to do its individual job. If you smooth on lightweight serums after heavy creams, for example, both are unlikely to meet their potential. The thicker formula blocks the lighter one. To get things right, follow this general rule of thumb: apply from thinnest to thickest. This includes using serums after cleansing and toning but before moisturizing.

To incorporate Hydro-Plumping Hydrating Serum into your routine, dispense one pump into your hand and apply it to freshly cleansed skin. The serum with glycerin and epidermal hydration filler helps visibly plump skin to smooth the appearance of fine lines and uneven texture. It also visibly improves dull skin. After application, follow with your moisturizer and eye cream. Last in your routine will be sunscreen, which should always be your final A.M. skincare step.

3. You Skip Cleansing

It shouldn’t come as a major surprise that cleansing is necessary—after all, face wash exists for a reason. But you might not think it’s always a must. Perhaps you wash your face solely in the shower or only after wearing makeup. Well, that won’t quite cut it. You should cleanse twice a day, every day, as part of your morning and nighttime skincare routines. At night, in addition to removing leftover makeup and sunscreen, cleansing will also sweep away oil and impurities that have built up throughout the day. You might not think your skin would get dirty enough to require cleansing again between this and when you wake, but you sweat while you sleep. Using face wash is critical because you don’t want to apply the rest of your routine on top of oil, dirt, and sweat or other impurities.

Ultra Facial Cleanser

If the prospect of drying out your skin keeps you from cleansing regularly, try Ultra Facial Cleanser. This face wash with squalane and avocado oil gently yet effectively cleanses without over-drying or stripping skin of its essential oils. It’s also pH-balanced, formulated for all skin types, including sensitive skin, and made with recyclable packaging.

Kiehl’s Tip: If you’re an exercise enthusiast (or a reluctant gym-goer), you’ll want to add a post-workout cleansing session to your schedule as well. Use a gentle cleanser to remove sweat, then complete the rest of your skincare routine while your skin is still damp.

4. You Don’t Prime Your Skin

Primer has become a makeup staple, but what you might not know is that you can—and should—prime before applying skincare products, too. No, we don’t mean using makeup primer before moisturizer. Instead, use a priming toner to prep your skin for the products that follow. This extra step won’t add much time to your routine; what it will do is help the rest of your products be more effective.

Ferulic Brew Antioxidant Facial Treatment With Lactic Acid

We recommend Ferulic Brew Antioxidant Facial Treatment With Lactic Acid, which is made with ferulic acid, lactic acid (an exfoliating alpha-hydroxy acid), and squalane. It primes your skin to help it better receive your serums and moisturizer, making it an essential first treatment step. The formula for all skin types also helps defend the skin against skin-aging free radicals and visibly reduces fine lines. Use the Kiehl’s 5-5-5 technique. First, shake the bottle five times, then pour five drops into your palms. Finish by pressing the toner onto your skin five times, focusing on your cheeks, forehead, and chin.

5. You Forget Small (Yet Significant) Spots

It’s all too easy to skip a small spot when applying skincare products. It may even seem inconsequential. But with certain steps in your routine, like sunscreen, you can experience swift signs that you’ve assumed incorrectly. Forget to apply sunscreen to the tops of your ears or the sliver of scalp revealed by your hair part, and you may be met with a red, painful sunburn. Down the line, this sun damage may result in visible signs of skin aging.

You’ll need about a nickel-sized amount of Super Fluid Daily UV Defense SPF 50+ to cover your whole face. Take your time and apply the sunscreen carefully to make sure you hit every spot. Our broad-spectrum formula will help protect skin against UVA and UVB rays as well as pollution.

Areas that are hard to coat with SPF can also be defended with the help of accessories. Shield your scalp and ears from the sun’s rays with a broad-brimmed hat, and wear UV-blocking sunglasses to help protect the skin around your eyes.

6. You Only Apply To Specific Spots

Next, we have the opposite of not applying products to specific areas: only applying them to specific areas. While some formulas are meant to be used as spot treatments and applied to targeted areas based on your concerns, others are supposed to be used all over. And the two types aren’t interchangeable. This is most relevant with products for acne-prone skin. It may seem wise to use them only where you’re breaking out, but in actuality, that may not result in clearer-looking skin. Abide by the application guidelines for the specific product you’re using.

With Breakout Control Acne Treatment Facial Lotion, you’ll want to apply it liberally to your entire face (avoiding the immediate eye area and your lips). Used properly, it visibly diminishes blemishes and helps prevent future ones from forming. If you’re tempted to spot treat, reach for a product meant for that purpose, like Breakout Control Targeted Acne Spot Treatment, which also reduces the appearance of breakouts. Apply a thin layer of the treatment with sulfur and niacinamide directly to any blemishes.

7. You Get Too Close To Your Delicate Eyes

Your eyes are delicate and can become easily irritated. This makes it important to be cognizant of what you apply near them. Many formulas aren’t designed for use around the eyes at all—read instructions for your products to be sure. As for those that are, you’ll still want to be careful. Eye creams and serums are meant to care for the skin around your eyes, but you don’t want them to get in your eyes. That may seem easy to avoid, but keep in mind that creamy formulas can migrate. This is why you shouldn’t apply them right up to your water or lash lines.

Avocado Eye Cream is special because it’s uniquely-formulated not to migrate into your eyes. Even so, it’s key to get eye cream application right. Focus the formula along your under-eye area and the orbital bone, not carrying it up to your lashes. If you use our aforementioned avocado eye cream (starring avocado oil and shea butter), it offers all-day hydration and defends the eye area against digital fatigue caused by blue light.

8. You Don’t Moisturize Your Neck

Your vanity is stocked with face moisturizer and body lotion, but what about your neck? This oft-forgotten area needs moisture, too. Not only can it get dry, but the skin on your neck is also prone to visible signs of aging. Thankfully, if you’ve been neglecting the skin below your chin, it’s easy to rectify. Simply carry your face cream or lotion down to your neck.

Super Multi-Corrective Anti-Aging Cream For Face and Neck

You can also amend your routine and incorporate a moisturizer specifically for the face and neck. We recommend Super Multi-Corrective Anti-Aging Cream For Face and Neck, formulated with phytomimetic vitamin A and fragmented hyaluronic acid. It addresses the most visible signs of aging on your face and neck and is clinically demonstrated to reduce the appearance of wrinkles in just four weeks.*

*Results based on a 12-week clinical study of 53 panelists in the US.

Orientation message
For the best experience, please turn your device