When I’m feeling really lazy, I reduce my skincare routine to the bare minimum: cleanser, antioxidant serum, and sunscreen.
On most days, I’ll use moisturizer, too. And, two or three times a week, an exfoliant and sheet mask. That’s six products. And only because I don’t believe in toners and eye creams, or the number would go up to 8.
That’s nothing, though. In Korea, women use 10 products or more. Essence, emulsion, ampoule, sleeping masks… they have so much stuff that’s still unknown here.
But, isn’t that too much? Does our skin really need all these products, or will using too many damage skin?
How Many Skincare Products Should You Use?
Well, there really isn’t a definite number. That would have just been too easy, wouldn’t it?
The truth is, it’s not a matter of how many skincare products you can use, but of how many layers of them your skin can tolerate.It's not a matter of how many skincare products you can use, but of how many layers of them skin can tolerate.Click To Tweet
You see, to function, feel, and look its best, skin needs more than just one ingredient. It needs:
- Emollients and humectants, like shea butter and hyaluronic acid, to hydrate it and keep it soft and supple.
- Antioxidants, like vitamins A and C, to prevent and treat premature wrinkles.
- Skin-identical ingredients, like ceramides and cholesterol, to keep its protective barrier intact and prevent dryness.
- Exfoliating acids, like glycolic and salicylic, to remove old dead cells and prevent breakouts.
- Sunscreen agents, like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, to protect against UV damage.
- Skin-lighteners, like niacinamide and hydroquinone, to reduce dark spots and discolourations.
- Soothing ingredients, like allantoin and oats, to reduce inflammation.
So, it’s a matter of finding the right products with these ingredients. The best out there will contain a bunch of them. For example, Paula’s Choice is my fave skincare brand, because Paula includes antioxidants and soothing ingredients in all her moisturizers, toners, sunscreens… pretty much everywhere. So, you don’t need that many products at all.
Sometimes, though, these multitasking products ain’t enough. As moisturizing as Olay Total Effects Day Cream is, come winter, I still need to use a separate hydrating serum with hyaluronic acid to keep my skin supple and prevent dehydration.
So, again, it’s all about finding out what your skin needs, and where to find the ingredients that can fix your problems. Sometimes, you need to include an extra product to ensure your skin gets everything it needs. Other times, you can go back to basics because your skin is already functioning very well on its own.
It’s The Texture, Not The Number, Of Products That Can Cause Problems
Having said that, there is a limit to the amounts of products you can use. But, this limit is not set at a specific number. It’s not like you can use 10 products without problems, but when you add the 11th, all hell breaks loose.
You can use 5 products and see all hell break loose if they all have rich textures. Rich textures are very moisturizing, but, they can also clog pores and create a barrier that prevents anything you apply next from penetrating into the skin. That’s why, as a rule, you apply heavily-textured products last and lightly-textured products first.
If you plan to use a ton of products, they’d better have a lightweight texture. That’s why the Korean skincare routine works so well. Korean women may use 10+ products, but they’re all so lightweight, so they can penetrate skin easily without leaving a greasy residue behind.
But, Western products usually have richer and creamier textures. So, how do you know when you’ve reached your limit? “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?