Vicious Skincare Cycle: It’s Time to Take a Step Back
Picture this: you use top-of-the-line, professional-quality products daily, following all provided instructions. You address every issue, from dead skin to dark circles to hyperpigmentation to fine lines. You’ve thought of everything. Then, you spend a bit of time on the Internet and learn that some skin issues are preventable if you only start using x, y, z products at the right time (coincidentally, “the right time” seems to always be now according to beauty brands), so you buy and start using those too.
The shelf on which you keep your beauty products is starting to look crowded, but that’s okay—at least you’re 100% ready! For what? Any beauty emergency, of course! Premature aging and clogged pores can’t get you if you put anti-aging cream on every night and exfoliate religiously.
Not quite. Medical professionals have been warning about excessive skin care for a while now. You can accidentally give your skin too much love and inadvertently cause breakouts, dryness, or an allergic reaction. Curious about where you might be going overboard? Then, keep on reading.
Is exfoliating helpful? Undoubtedly. Exfoliating is a great way to prepare your skin for other beauty products and enhance their effectiveness. It helps remove dead skin and unclog pores, allowing for better absorption of all your favorite skincare products. Moreover, it improves the overall look of your skin by boosting circulation and stimulating skin renewal. So, if you’re not exfoliating regularly, we highly recommend you try!
That being said, don’t overdo it. Chances are, you don’t need to exfoliate more than a couple of times a week! Be especially careful if you have sensitive, combination, or dry skin; you might only need to exfoliate weekly or not at all!
If you notice any of these symptoms, you might want to rethink your exfoliating habits:
- Irritation and redness
- Dry or peeling skin
- Breakouts and increase in sensitivity
- Skin tightness
- Shiny T-zone
Over-exfoliating is one of the most common skincare mistakes that might negatively affect your skin. To avoid irritation, we recommend you:
- Stick to one type of exfoliant (either chemical or physical)
- Start slow (1–2 times weekly, depending on your skin type)
- Never exfoliate more than four times weekly (take note of your skin’s reaction)
- Be gentle (don’t rub your face harshly when using physical exfoliants)
Know your skin care.
Peptides, vitamins, acids—you have many options to enhance your beauty routine! Do you need all of them? Probably not. But suppose you wish to use multiple products that target different issues. In that case, you will want to know how to mix and match the ingredients properly!
But why is this important? A study on the quality of ingredients in beauty products highlighted how important it is for skincare ingredients to support or enhance the effectiveness of a product.  If you use them together, many ingredients offer no additional benefits or even cancel their effect on your skin! Let’s take retinoids and vitamin C: the former makes your skin more photosensitive, while the latter protects your skin from sun damage. There’s a reason dermatologists recommend using those two at different times of day—they have the opposite effect on your skin!
Another example would be AHAs and BHAs. You can use both acids to exfoliate your skin, but you should be careful if you want to mix them. We recommend using them interchangeably or going for a formula that combines them in a balanced manner.
Making smart, informed choices is how you avoid skin issues and save money on buying a bunch of products you don’t need!
Quit over-layering products.
Professional-quality skin care feels fantastic. Putting the products on, gently massaging, and caring for your skin feels like getting pampered. It’s that much-needed me-time we manage to carve out in our hectic lives that can be relaxing and meditative.
“So, what’s the harm there?” you might ask. As with many things, less is more when it comes to skin care. Putting on too many products (that, in some cases, might not mix well) might cause your skin more harm than good. Trying to deal with multiple issues and using too many products simultaneously might exacerbate your problem instead of solving it. Not giving your skin time to absorb the products and process the changes you introduce might cause irritation, dryness, increased sensitivity, breakouts, and a whole pile of brand-new skin issues! For example, a 2021 study found a correlation between excessive use of skincare products and the development of rosacea. 
Our advice? If your facial beauty routine takes you longer than 15 minutes to finish and you still have persisting skin issues, maybe it’s time to try something different.
Go back to basics.
So, what’s the solution if you’re having skin issues because of an overcomplicated beauty routine? How do you find which product is causing problems? We recommend you consult your dermatologist for more severe issues, but scaling down to the basic 5-step beauty routine is a great place to start. Here’s a simple step-by-step that gives your skin everything it needs without going overboard:
- Cleansing: Gently cleanse your skin with a facewash that best suits your skin type.
- Toning: Toning your skin further cleanses it and helps prepare it for the next steps.
- Eye Cream: The thin skin under the eyes needs love too! Eye creams help you deal with puffiness and dark circles.
- Moisturizing: Always remember to moisturize! It’ll keep your skin hydrated and lock in moisture.
- Sunscreen: Using sun protection cream daily will help protect your skin from sun damage (yes, in winter, too!)
Once you’ve scaled down your beauty process and given your skin time to recover, you may slowly start introducing other treatments (if you wish!) and see how your skin reacts.
Dermatologists have been warning about the dangers of overcomplicated beauty routines for a while now. So many popular trends have taken over our lives, and every time something new pops up, we just have to try it!
But with this many options available, you can inadvertently damage your skin. Irritation, redness, dryness, and frequent breakouts are only the tip of the iceberg. Studies show that excessive use of skincare products can trigger multiple problematic skin conditions.
We recommend scaling down your skincare process to a 5-step routine to avoid potential harm or help deal with existing issues. Simply cleansing, toning, moisturizing, and protecting from sun damage is enough for most people. However, contacting your dermatologist for more severe cases and personalized care is always a good idea.
How much moisturizer should you use?
Using a nickel-sized amount for your entire face is a good rule of thumb to avoid overhydrating your skin. You might need a touch more depending on your skin type.
How many skincare products are too many?
It will depend on your skincare goals and needs. Cleanser, toner, moisturizer, and sunscreen are your starting points. If you wish to introduce more products into your routine, do it slowly and see how your skin reacts.
How long till you see results from a new skincare routine?
You will likely see the results in six to twelve weeks, but that time can vary significantly from person to person.
Why is my skincare not working?
You might want to restructure your beauty routine if your skin issues persist. It’s always good to step back and try a basic 5-step routine. However, contacting your dermatologist for personalized advice is always a good idea.
Should you use skincare every day?
Daily skin care that benefits your skin type and individual needs is a great way to keep your skin youthful for longer!
- Zatz, J. L. (2001). The quality of skin care products and their ingredients. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, 44(2), 235-241. https://doi.org/10.1067/mjd.2001.11235497
- Li, G., Wang, B., Zhao, Z., et al. (2021). Effects of skin care habits on the development of rosacea: A multi-center retrospective case-control survey in Chinese population. Archives of Dermatological Research, 313(4), 225-234. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00403-020-02095-w
Please be aware that this article has been created for informational purposes only and does not substitute professional medical care. We encourage you to consult with your dermatologist for personalized skincare guidance.