5 Warning Signs You Are Overdoing It with Skin Care

Skin Care

natural-skin-care-40s by Laurel.Miss
Submitted via the FutureDerm.com Facebook page(a great way to reach me!):

Hi Nicki, let me thank you first for being so helpful and providing such wonderful guidance regarding skincare when needed most. My question for you today is, how do you know if your are overdoing with your skin care regime? […] So how many products/ ingredients can you use? Is there a point when they become marginally redundant? Thank you for your time


Dear Nadia,

Thank you for your great question. There are a few signs you are overdoing your skin care:

1. You have the classic signs of a burn: Red, inflamed, and/or irritated SKIN.

Burns are one of the more common signs you are overdoing it with your skin care. These are especially noticed when using physical scrubs or microdermabrasion, and/or chemical peels including salicylic, glycolic, malic, and/or lactic acids. Retinoids are another common offender.

Keep in mind it is not necessary to exfoliate your skin more than once per week. Those starting with a retinoid regimen can also benefit from using their skin care once every 2-3 days at first, gradually working up to once daily as their skin learns to tolerate it.

2. Your skin feels more dry than when you started.

Like burning, increased dryness is more common with scrubs, peels, microdermabrasion, and retinoids than other ingredients. The right cleanser will leave your skin feeling soft, smooth, fresh and clean after you use it, not dry, tight or irritated.

Again, certain ingredients can make skin look worse before it gets better. These include alpha hydroxy acids, microdermabrasion crystals, niacin, and retinoids. It is always best to consult with your dermatologist. If your skin is red, inflamed, irritated, or dry, cut back on your usage. Allow your skin to build up some tolerance.

3. You have small blisters, draining in fluid and crusting in severe regions.

Note the small red blisters surrounding the wound. These are signs of contact dermatitis.

Small blisters with these characteristics are a telltale sign you are suffering from contact dermatitis, which results from exposure to allergens or irritants. Common irritant offenders include harsh soaps, chemical solvents, and cosmetics or skin products, including deodorant.

Although many people often assume it can only be contact dermatitis if all of the locations directly contacted by an aggravating agent are affected, this is not the case. If you apply a lotion all over your face, for example, you may only get contact dermatitis on small patches of your cheeks or forehead – not your entire face.

It is also not true contact dermatitis only affects regions that are directly in contact by the offending agent. If you develop a skin sensitivity to an agent, and that later enters your body through food, drink, medications and/or supplements, you may have another reaction that affects larger areas of your body. This is sometimes seen with chemicals like avobenzone and oxybenzone in sunscreen.

It is important to see your dermatologist if you think you are exhibiting the signs of contact dermatitis. He or she may prescribe a hydrocortisone cream and/or oral corticosteroids, depending on the severity of your condition.

4. Your SILICONe-based makeup looks like it is painted on with a brush.

If you are using too much of your serum, moisturizer, or make-up products, this will cause your silicone-based makeup products to lay on the surface of the skin, rather than slyly fill in fine lines and wrinkles. Silicone-based products are designed to disguise signs of aging in this way! Not sure if your products contain silicones? Look for ingredients like dimethicone, cyclopentasiloxane, cyclohexasiloxane, and phenyl trimethicone.

Keep in mind that the right amount of moisturizer is approximately the size of a pea, or 0.4 grams:

The right amount of cleanser is about the size of a quarter:

Well, not this enormous quarter. 🙂 You get the idea. Use more than this, and you could be defeating the purpose entirely.

5. You are experiencing an increase in the number of breakouts.

Overtreated skin may demonstrate signs of inflammatory acne. This is most common in women who are premenopausal and applying too many peels and alpha hydroxy acid-based creams. The reason? A sudden change in hormones causes swelling and relatively deep inflammation within the follicle. Peeling agents accelerate the rate of cell turnover, aggravating the region further. A telltale sign is pain, as inflammatory acne lesions will often create pressure on nerve endings.

Inflammatory acne is in sharp contrast to non-hormonal acne, which develops more slowly as the result of build-up of sebum within the follicle. It is less painful. Non-hormonal acne, which occurs in various forms, may be the result of using too many skin care products. For instance, it is a bad idea to use ingredients that trap moisture into the skin with common irritants, as the irritants become trapped into the skin as well. As a general rule, I avoid using petrolatum and mineral oil with any of the ingredients on this comprehensive list from Temptalia.

Not sure which product is irritating? Do this test.

Simply remove one product from your skin care regimen for two weeks, and notice if your skin quality increases or decreases. Examine changes in the amount of oil production/shine, dryness, redness, acne breakouts, smoothness/crepiness, and overall quality. Once you experiment, you can choose how to adjust your skin care regime accordingly.

Bottom Line

I hope the above tips help you determine if you are overdoing your skin care regimen. Most dermatologists are more than happy to analyze your skin care regimen in-person. In the office setting, they can determine if the regimen is optimized for your skin type, and make considerable recommendations for improvement. However, via the internet, I do not have the permission or capability to assess everyone’s skin care regimens. I recommend a reading of Dr. Leslie Baumann’s The Skin Type Solution, as well as an annual screening with a dermatologist for everyone.


Top photo source:  natural-skin-care-40s, a photo by Laurel.Miss on Flickr.

Check our bestsellers!

Recent Posts