This is How to Tell If You’re Using Too Many Skincare Products
We’re all guilty of adding that trendy new serum or acne-busting face mask to our shopping carts after a late night Instagram scroll. All is well and good if there are no associated skin problems, but what happens when your skin starts acting up in the form of redness, irritation, and acne flare-ups? Could your desire to mix and match a perfect skincare routine be more of a detrimental experiment than a pampering session?
According to Dr. Paul Jarrod Frank, NYC-based board-certified dermatologist and author of The Pro-Aging Playbook, the answer is yes. In fact, one of the most frequent skin complaints he hears from patients come from one common issue: using too many products. This can lead to sensitized skin, a clinical malady that describes skin that has become sensitive by product overuse and abuse. Keep scrolling to learn exactly what sensitized skin is, the signs of product over-use, and how to treat skin that’s gone through the gamut.
What is Sensitized Skin?
“While skincare is an important part of skin maintenance, using too many products typically ends up irritating or over drying the skin,” notes Dr. Frank. What’s more, our skin can actually be more prone to sensitivity if you’re using either too many products or a combination of products that simply don’t mesh well. “For example, using multiple acids along with exfoliating cleansers can strip the skin of its natural oils, which exist to protect the skin from bacteria and other harmful elements that can damage your skin long-term,” explains Dr. Frank. And, though all skin types are susceptible, those with thinner skin are more prone to the harmful effects of product overuse and abuse.
Signs of Sensitized Skin
You’ll know you have sensitized skin if you’re experiencing extreme dryness, tight skin, erythema (reddening of the skin), itching, or blotchiness. While some burning is to be expected when using certain ingredients like AHA/BHA, if the sensation lasts longer than 10 minutes, Dr. Frank says to wash it off immediately. Also, strength matters. “Always start with a low percentage of acid and leave the medical-grade peels to a board-certified dermatologist,” he says.
How to Treat Sensitized Skin
When it comes to treating sensitized skin, it’s all about the actual products you’re using together. For example, Dr. Frank says to avoid mixing retinol products with AHA/BHA, certain vitamin C products, and benzoyl peroxide, as this can be drying and cause irritation. Also, avoid using products with fragrance, as the word “fragrance” on an ingredient list typically gets a free pass (translation: it doesn’t have to disclose exactly what’s in it, which means fragrance often hides a slew of potentially irritating ingredients). Instead, keep your routine simple: A cleanser, moisturizer, and sunscreen is all Dr. Frank says you need to keep your skin healthy.
And remember, even if you have skin of steel, Dr. Frank warns against experimenting with too many products. “Using too many products at once or combining active ingredients isn’t beneficial for any skin type,” he says. “While some won’t feel as irritated or react as quickly, no one is doing their skin justice by using too many sensitizing products.”