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How Many Products Should You Have in Your Skin-Care Routine?

How to Tell If You're Using Too Many Products in Your Skin-Care Routine

Photo taken in Porto, Portugal

With so many skin-care products on the market boasting a number of different results and effects, it can be tempting to feel like you have to try them all — especially when it feels like there's a new, buzzy ingredient entering the chat every few months. But you only have one face, and as hard as it is to get over the feeling that you need to try everything, keeping things simple can do wonders for your skin. In fact, if you find yourself buying or trying new products often and have either noticed an overreaction or no reaction in your skin, there's a good chance that you're using too many.

According to Kenneth Howe, MD, of Wexler Dermatology in New York City, a common issue that comes along with using too many products is what he called "redundancy of effect," which means that a person could unknowingly be using two products that do the same thing. This can either irritate the skin and cause redness, roughness, sensitivity, and/or peeling, or cancel out the effectiveness of each individual product.

"Layering multiple skin products can make it more difficult for an active ingredient to penetrate the skin."

Plus, "layering multiple skin products can make it more difficult for an active ingredient to penetrate the skin," Dr. Howe said. "You effectively dilute an active ingredient if it's forced to traverse layers of cream to reach the skin. So an active agent won't work as well."

The number of steps in your skin-care routine should depend on two things: your overall skin concerns and how much your skin can tolerate. These things differ for everyone, but Dr. Howe recommended that any regimen have at least three or four steps.

"That accommodates a cleanser, a topical with an active (like antiaging or skin-brightening), and a moisturizer," he told POPSUGAR. "If the person has an actual skin condition like acne or eczema, then topical medicine needs to be incorporated as well into a step before application of moisturizer."

The bottom line: you can't go wrong with keeping things simple, but if you must use multiple products, just make sure you're paying attention what's in them.

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