Yes, Less Is More If You Want to Avoid These Common Skin Problems
These days, men are much more woke about their skin care and understand the value of investing serious coin in the right products to enhance their appearance. However, when witnessing the quick results these topical lotions and beautifying potions can deliver, we can get overzealous and apply more than what’s recommended in hopes of speeding up the process. As it turns out, that can be a huge mistake, my friends.
The saying “too much of anything is bad for you” also applies to your skin care regimen. So put down the anti-aging cream, close your grooming cabinet, and just listen.
Most often, we look for products that are formulated with high concentrations of active ingredients to give our skin the best outcome. Unfortunately, using too much can also traumatize skin and trigger worse conditions than what we might be currently treating. If you happen to be noticing differences in skin texture too, you need to know what’s really happening.
To flag some warning signs of overdoing it with your skincare products, we spoke with board-certified skin-care experts who also serve as major contributors to RealSelf, one of the web’s biggest community-driven cosmetic surgery sites.
Read on to learn the major indicators of skin care no-nos.
When your skin starts to feel tighter than a pair of millennial-worn jeans, it’s time to swap out your grooming products for some kinder ones.
The first skin care product you should start with is cleanser. Dermatologist Michele Green points out, “If your skin feels tight after cleansing, your cleanser may not be pH-balanced,” and does more harm to you skin and skin barrier than good. Using a lot of alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) such as lactic acid and glycolic acid or beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) such as acne fighting salicylic acid can strip skin of its natural moisture.
Green adds: “Using products that disrupt the skin’s pH balance can cause your skin to feel this way, and maintaining pH balance aids in cell renewal and collagen reproduction.”
Multiple factors can cause skin to flare up, from active ingredients such as the aforementioned acids for exfoliation including AHAs and BHAs, plus retinols, retinoids, and enzymes, to bacterial infections, to shaving. Going heavy on the aftershave or moisturizer only aggravates this condition.
“If your skin is feeling uncomfortable, you may be too aggressive with products,” says Lara Devgan, a plastic surgeon and chief medical officer of RealSelf. “Dial back to nothing for a day or two and slowly add products back [into your routine] to identify the best level of intervention for your skin type.”
Green stresses that “a combination of strong concentrations from the use of multiple products can cause skin sensitivity, resulting in burn or irritation when applying other products or just plain water.” Good to know.
Joel Schlessinger, a dermatologic surgeon, also adds that “over-exfoliating” may result in some redness and inflammation: “If you use a product with glycolic acid and follow with a retinoid, you may be damaging your skin’s healthy cells, leading to dryness, redness, and other signs of irritation.” If you’re not sure about the order and strength of the products you’re using, schedule an appointment with your dermatologist and get some additional information. Don’t have one? Me neither. I’m one lucky bastard with perfect skin.
Much like those little fuzz balls that form on your sweater after a few wears, the skin on your face and body can also pill up when applying too much product. Schlessinger explains that if cream or lotion “immediately pills off your skin, this means the formulas don’t mix well — or there’s too much product on your skin.”
Most companies mention the suggested amount of use for their products in the directions. If you’re not sure, this list from Schlessinger and the “Today” show clarifies exactly how much of the good stuff you really need.
Dry Skin and Flakes
It’s inevitable that just about everyone is likely to experience drier skin during the colder seasons, which can be treated by practicing these great winter skin care tips. If you’re one of those who feels extra dry and takes matters into your own hands (and face) by going HAM with thick, active, anti-aging moisturizers (read: vitamin A, retinol, retinoids, and glycolic acid) to soften your face and slough off flakey skin, just how much of the especially potent stuff should you use, and what ingredients work best? These are dependent on your skin’s sensitivity, and the answer is different for everyone.
“Some degree of dryness is common and expected from medical-grade skin care like retinol and vitamin C, but if your skin is chapped, peeling, and resistant to moisturizer, you may need to decrease product strength,” says Devgan. Green agrees, adding that “overdoing skin brighteners and anti-aging products can cause excessive dryness and peeling, so pay careful attention to ingredients and concentration in the products being used.”
Hyperpigmentation and Discoloration
Notice some discoloration on your face? Maybe some dark spots on the side of your eyes, nose, or chin? Sun damage or even skin cancer from sun exposure? Devgan believes it could be the products you have in excessive rotation. “Hyperpigmentation can occur paradoxically from some of the products or things we try to do to treat it, such as acid peels,” she says. “If you’re getting brown spots or color irregularity, this can be a culprit.”
In addition, Devgan points out that skin tone blotchiness can “suggest contact dermatitis or allergy,” and to look over the product ingredients, as well as “consider patch testing any new ingredients on your wrist crease.” It’s better to find out if you’re allergic to something before you slather it all over your dry, tight, irritated face.
Excessively Oily Skin
If you’re shining brighter than aluminum foil, something is completely off with your skincare approach. According to Devgan, this could be the result of “layering too many products, especially facial oils.” Pare down and use just one to moisturize dull skin.
To those among half the population suffering from the skin condition seborrheic dermatitis, Schlessinger urges you to forget self-medicating and to make a trip to the dermatologist for treatment.
Overexposure to sunlight makes skin super sensitive and more susceptible to UV rays – even in the winter. Yes, a safe sunscreen will form a barrier to protect your skin, but according to the Environmental Working Group, the majority of sunscreens on the market formulated for daily facial wear contain chemical filters, which are loaded with active ingredients.
Slathering on a ton of sunscreen might render it useless against strong UV rays, especially since these ingredients destroy the protective layers on the skin’s surface. “If the acid mantle of the skin is unbalanced, you can experience sun sensitivity,” says Green.
It’s important to remember that there are a lot of skincare product that can help or hurt your skin, but one of the most important products to use is, and always will be, sunscreen.Too much sun exposure can not only cause sun damage that can lead to skin cancer, but not using it will almost guarantee fine lines and wrinkles earlier. Additionally, sun exposure to skin frequently exfoliated by acids can be even more sensitive to the sun’s harmful rays.
Acne and Bumps
As much as you enjoy the manly musk emitted from your favorite beard oil and body lotion, the fragrance additives in these and other skin care products could actually be the cause of your face breaking out like a pubescent teenager’s. Pimples, clogged pores, or any red bumps or blisters that crust or drain liquid are a sign that you need to fall back on scent-heavy products and go with fragrance-free options.
“Small blisters are an indication of contact dermatitis or an allergic reaction to the products you are using,” says Green. “Using products containing fragrance can be irritating or over-moisturizing to the skin, which can cause acne comedones.” Read: blackheads or whiteheads. Be careful when it comes to dealing with those bumps as well, since popping can lead to long-lasting scars that require laser treatment to get rid of.
Devgan has her own recommendation for combating acne or ingrown hairs: “With acne, this can suggest folliculitis or irritation of the base of the hair follicle — you may need more exfoliating products or less heavy or greasy ones.” Don’t know which? Make an appointment with your dermatologist to help get on a good skin care regimen and forget all about these irritating issues.
Finding Your Best Skin Care Routine
Making subtle changes to your grooming or skin care regimen can make all the difference in maintaining a healthy, glowing complexion. After all, “the skin can only absorb so much product,” says Schlessinger. “If you use too much, the product will just sit on top of your skin and is, frankly, a waste.” This stuff ain’t cheap, so it’s better to use wisely instead of willy-nilly.
Per Schlessinger, when integrating new products into your routine, work them in one after another: “If you have recently decided to try a new moisturizer, cleanser, and sunscreen, it’s best to introduce them into your regimen one at a time, unless otherwise directed by your dermatologist.”
Regarding cleansers containing glycolic acid or moisturizers with retinol, Schlessinger points out that “your skin could overcompensate, leading to the warning signs mentioned above.”
If you’re in a constant battle with your skin (sensitive skin or not), taking a break from a lot of your normal skincare routine can be another way of ensuring your skin’s overall health.
You’ll want to adopt certain lifestyle changes, such as drinking more water, exercising regularly, and getting the recommended amount of sleep you need to help better improve your complexion. A diet of nutrient-rich ingredient or stress-relieving activities like yoga can do wonders for those skin cells you love.