What Happens When You Go *Overboard* With Skincare Treatments?

Cosmetic Treatments

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Moderation is key in all things, including your skincare routine. For example, while it might seem like a good idea to wash your face throughout the day – particularly if you have oily or acne-prone skin – doing so can really do a number on your barrier and make things worse. And though laser treatments can make your skin look amazing, too many visits can actually backfire. We spoke with two skincare pros who were happy to school us on the kinds of skincare treatments people easily go overboard on. Let’s dive in.

1. Washing Your Face

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The general rule of thumb is to wash your face no more than twice per day, though many prefer to just wash once. And we know, we know. It’s so tempting to wash more frequently if you have oily or acne-prone skin, but this can impact overall balance and create a cycle of breakouts and excessive oil production.

“Overwashing can harm the skin barrier, which allows bacteria to enter easier, causing more breakouts,” explains Dr. Michael Jacobs, a board-certified dermatologist and medical technology director for Cortina. It can also kick oil production into higher gear since existing oil is consistently being washed away.

Signs You’re Over-Washing

  • Tight feeling
  • Itchy skin
  • Increased breakouts
  • Redness
  • Irritation
  • Excess oil production

Top Tip: Harsh cleansers – those that foam or contain AHAs/ BHAs – can also cause similar results if used too often, even twice daily. We find the sweet spot is a hydrating gel or milk cleanser in the morning and a double cleanse at night (start with an oil-based cleanser and finish with a water-based cleanser of your choice).

2. Injectable Filler

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A little strategically placed filler here and there can really transform your face in a natural, “You must get great sleep!” kind of way. However, this is one of those office treatments that can easily cross the “a little too much” line.

“Dermal fillers are a useful way to restore natural contours and sculpt the face when placed appropriately,” says Dr. Marisa Garshick, a board-certified dermatologist at Manhattan Dermatology and Cosmetic Surgery and advisor of BioRepublic. “However, overfilling with dermal fillers distorts the natural appearance of the face.”

Everyone has different goals, so what’s “too much” for one person might be the perfect amount for others. That said, it’s best to find an injector that you trust and has a portfolio of work that resonates with your aesthetic preferences. Also, Dr. Marshick says that if you find yourself in an over-filled sitch, your results can be reversed via an injection that dissolves the filler.

Signs of Too Much Filler

  • You are unhappy with how you look
  • Swelling that won’t go away after two weeks
  • Disproportionate features
  • Bulging cheeks
  • Distorted eyes/changed line of sight
  • A top lip that looks unnaturally full or disproportionate
  • Your mouth won’t close all the way/it’s hard to speak normally
  • Filler fatigue – AKA a consistent need for dermal filler injections to fill out skin that’s become stretched/ loose over time

3. Botox

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The “frozen face” effect is one that keeps people from using Botox, but when done well this treatment can shed years off your face by smoothing lines, opening eyes, defining brows, and helping you look more refreshed overall. It can even help prevent signs of aging.

“When it comes to Botox, less is more. You want a subtle and natural look and still be able to feel and look like yourself,” says Dr. Garshick. “While it is personal, I always tell my patients we can always add more Botox, but we can’t reverse it, so if they are nervous or doing it for the first time, it is always best to take a less is more approach.”

While getting too much Botox isn’t harmful, it can prevent you from being expressive and lend to that “frozen face” look. Fortunately, it does gradually wear off over two to four months, and after the first month you will regain more flexibility and movement.

Signs You Might Have Gotten Too Much Botox  

  • You don’t like how you look
  • Brows feel heavy
  • Eyelids feel or look heavy/droopy
  • Eyebrows are arched too high for your preference
  • It’s impossible to make expressions (and you’d prefer that you could do so)

4. In-Office Lasering

Here’s the thing – everyone has different skincare goals and needs. In terms of lasering, some people will need a bit more while others need far less to reach their goals.

“Your laser specialist will examine and determine how many sessions for your skin and hair type are needed,” notes Dr. Jacobs. “Overdoing or going over the recommended sessions can make the skin get to be too sensitive and reduce healing post laser. I recommend doing your research to find a reputable dermatology or plastic surgery practice and practitioner who really understands the skin.”

Signs of Excess Laser Usage

  • Hyperpigmentation
  • Increased, lingering sensitivity
  • “Burnt” skin
  • Healing takes longer than what’s expected
  • A waxy appearance (this can happen over the long term with resurfacing lasers)
  • Thinning skin (also happens over the long term)

5. Exfoliating

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We believe in routine exfoliation, but there’s definitely a line between perfection and “oh no!” Face exfoliating should be done very carefully and once or twice a week max. However, if the exfoliating agent is particularly potent – which is more likely the case with a chemical product – then reduce that frequency.

“Overdoing it can harm the skin barrier, strip your skin of its natural oil, and cause breakouts,” says Dr. Jacobs. “Limit the number of times you exfoliate if you are seeing signs of having overdone it, and use gentle, dermatologist-approved products and tools.”

Signs of Over Exfoliation

  • Redness
  • Peeling
  • Irritation
  • Breakouts
  • Dryness
  • Increased Sensitivity
  • Burning sensation when applying products

Top Tip: Just because a product isn’t labeled as an exfoliator doesn’t mean that it doesn’t contain ingredients that do so. Look out for products that contain glycolic, salicylic acid, lactic acid, and enzymes, as these also exfoliate the skin and can often be included in toners and serums. You shouldn’t be using multiple products that contain these ingredients in your skin routine every day, or you run the risk of damaging your skin barrier. Healthy skin is strong and hydrated, so go slow with actives to maintain skin health.

Um, these five in-office skincare treatments deliver wow-worthy results and are worth every penny.

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