Cleanse, tone and moisturize. Use a good exfoliant to get rid of the dead skin cells that are accumulating on the surface and an antiaging serum to keep skin looking younger for longer. And do apply a retinol product to fight off wrinkles. Oh, don’t forget the sunscreen! Nor a nice pampering mask twice a week! And what about eye cream? Should I use that too?
There are just so many beneficial active ingredients and products out there that if we were to use them all we could end up applying a dozen products in the morning and another dozen at night! But even when we use products with several active ingredients (such as a moisturizer with antioxidants and retinoids or a sunscreen with moisturizing ingredients) our skincare routine can still consist of 7 or 8 products.
While some women don’t mind using so many, others think that applying more than 3 or 4 products is too much and may end up damaging skin. So, who’s right? Well, there really isn’t a definite answer. It’s not really a matter of how many ingredients or products you can use, but of how many layers of them your skin can tolerate.
Skin, to function, feel and look its best, needs more than just one or two active ingredients. A combination of antioxidants works best than using only Vitamin C or green tea for instance. A lot of products contain more than one active just for this reason, and they are formulated so that they don’t conflict with one another. Some ingredients, in fact, can inactive others (AHAs inactivate retinoids so use the former in the morning and the latter at night), but if you’re careful to avoid these bad combinations you can use as many actives as you need to.
Instead, it’s the texture of the products that can cause problems. If you apply too many, they can feel too heavy on the skin and all those layers may prevent the products you’ve applied last from penetrating the skin properly, compromising their efficacy. So, stop worrying about numbers and use common sense instead. “When one product just doesn’t seem to set”, says Dr Schultz, “or seems to be sliding off your skin, because you have so many others underneath, then you’ve probably reached your limit.” Until then, you can use as many products as you feel your skin needs.
How many skincare products do you use?