I’m like a parrot, because I really tend to repeat »less is more« when it comes to using cosmetic products. But I have really good reasons for that! From my experience and many others I believe this is the best way for the majority of skins. I’ve already written about layering skincare products here: Layering, and now I’d like to shed some more light on this topic. I think it is necessary, due to the following reasons:
- Companies want to sell more: cosmetic manufacturers and aestheticians want to sell more. It is not a big secret, neither a crime (everybody has to pay bills!), but it can be tough on consumers. They’re not sure if they can trust and they don’t know enough to figure out themselves on how to proceed. That’s when other resources come into play…
- Bloggers, influencers that present and praise many different products: each week brings a bunch of new products, new routines, new solutions. I’m not an exception! While I have simple skincare routines, I’m a curious beauty blogger. So of course I may present many products, but I can fully understand that my readers can get overwhelmed. That’s why I put a lot of effort into explaining and reviewing plus individual advice, but it still might not be enough to avoid confusion. Keep in mind, that we try and use lots of products to widen our knowledge and present all the options. It doesn’t mean that you need to use all this products! It just helps you get some ideas and solutions. And of course, find bloggers and influencers your trust! Fast tip regarding this: avoid anyone that says: »you need to have this« – trust me you don’t need anything except die and pay taxes. You might consider buying it, if the review or presentation sparks you interest, period.
- The last but definitely not least – I’ve stumbled upon many cases where excessive layering, complicated routines and regular use of too many products led to skin problems even on previously healthy and beautiful skin. Damaged barrier, acne, sensitivity etc. Of course some may experience no problems, but many do. So you might want to keep in mind that the more the merrier isn’t necessary your cup of tea.
Let’s get into more detail.
Quantity isn’t quality
The Panic Loop
You just found some awesome skincare guru and you realize you don’t have the slightest clue. Now you want to know and fix everything at once. Suddenly you feel that you’re aging super-fast and your skin is going to fall apart in a matter of months. Oh, and there are also some first fine lines and you look up all the solutions to stop aging right away. You realize that you need at least 266172 cosmetic products in 13 step routines and a few treatments to stop the time. Welcome to the panic loop.
The panic loop is the worst that can happen to your skin, because you think you need all that products, devices and treatments to repair all the previous »neglect« and to achieve a new level of skin goals. But you don’t. Of course great skincare can make a huge positive difference and it is very important, but it is a process which takes time and requires patience.
Take your time and don’t smother your skin with everything that sounds good. I’ve talked to many women that made the panic loop mistake and turned their beautiful, healthy skin to a nervous wreck. You need to set skincare goals and follow them patiently. If your skin is already beautiful, you might need just some extra moisture and a good SPF product to keep it that way. If you notice a few fine lines, you might consider including some anti-aging active ingredients, etc. Think before you buy and use! And if you want to keep it simple, you’re actually on the safest path to better looking skin. Here’s why:
The layering trap
Some eagerly promote the xy layer routines and claim that it is perfectly safe, but the truth is, nobody can guarantee you that blending multiple products on your skin is safe. Personally I’m against routines that include more than 4 layers, because I’ve seen too many skins gone south due to excessive layering (mine included). Because:
Incompatibility of ingredients
By layering a bunch of different products we blend on our skin all their ingredients that might not be compatible. The safety, compatibility and effectiveness of ingredients within a specific product is tested and guaranteed by its manufacturer solely for this product. This most certainly doesn’t extend to all the possible combinations of ingredients from several other products applied at the same time. If you layer 10 water-based products, each with its own preservative, chelator, emulsifier, pH equalizer, etc. you end up with a surprise soup, which your skin has to process!
Amount of preservatives
Each product must contain preservatives that are classified as hazardous (dangerous) raw materials. Preservatives are toxic because they have to kill micro-organisms which guarantees, that our products are safe to use. They are a necessary evil that has no beneficial effects on our skin and they are the poisons in our layering soup. Of course, each product contains only the regulated maximum amount of preservatives, which is safe in a specific formulation, but the dose makes the poison. If we layer a bunch of products, we also layer a bunch of preservatives and there is no way of knowing, that we are still within the safe limits in terms of absolute quantity (that is, in the total sum of the grams applied).
Layering is always a surprise soup
The opponents of this theory have some arguments:
Argument 1: Manufactures mostly don’t use the maximum allowed amount of preservatives…
…in products, so it is hard to excess the safe amount even with multiple layering. But what if you layer 10 products? Will the total amount exceed the safe amount? Will the mix of preservatives still be safe? You just can’t know that, nobody knows that, because nobody tested it. Plus, let’s not forget that the safe amount also depends on the country of origin, what happens if you mix Korean, European and US products in one routine?
Argument 2: We can’t sum up percentages
Very true, but also very misleading. The argument implies that it is hard to get above the safe amount, because we can’t just sum up the percentages and exceed it. As said, very true but it totally leaves out a very important fact – that the safety of a product is established on a single recommended application and NOT on the whole product. Not sure? Imagine putting a whole tube of a tretinoin product with 0,05% concentration on your face in one single application. I promise it would get ugly, because there’s a huge difference if you put a recommended pea sized amount on your face 2 times a week in a period of 6 months or a whole tube in a day. It is important how much product you apply at once! The percentage is in both cases is still only 0,05%. The dose makes the poison!
In addition, certain ingredients (preservatives) can be irritating even in safe quantities (they are hazardous substances, remember?). Some people can have allergic reactions to preservatives even if the amounts are really small and safe, but they might not realize that. Users mostly blame strong actives for outbreaks, allergies and irritations and they rarely take in consideration all the preservatives they layer on their skin.
Argument 3: Look at those beautiful Asian women with glass skin! It is perfect!
Well, we’re not Asian in the first place. And you really can’t know with which skin problems these women can cope. Sensitized skin or an impaired barrier isn’t always obvious. Plus, the classic K-beauty routines don’t include powerful active ingredients, which is a very important difference, because ours do. We tend to take the K-Beauty steps and we upgrade them with some powerful actives along the way. If you don’t know exactly what you are doing, it is plain and simply a Russian roulette.
The safety of a product is established on the single recommended application and not on the whole product
Will your skin fall apart? Of course not, the incompatibility of ingredients and the amounts of preservatives aren’t lethal. However, you can start noticing deteriorating effects in long term. It can take up to 6 months or more to notice any visible damage. When it happens you might not connect the dots, because you’re on the nice routine for so long. Of course, your skin might be very resilient or your product soup fairly compatible, so you won’t have any problems, just happy skin. But if you start noticing any issues with your skin barrier or texture, rethink your complicated routine. It didn’t work for me and it doesn’t work for many.
The Quantity Trick
This one has to be short, so just one thing – stick to the recommended application doses. If you’ve read the previous chapter you already get the idea why. Especially with powerful actives, stick to the manufacturer’s recommendation about dosage and frequency. Many skin problems come from ignoring the rules of engagement and as with layering, they can show up only after a certain period of time! Keep in mind that larger amounts will not bring faster results, just drama!
Plus, you’ll save lots of money if you keep your dosage on a minimum.
Less is more also in terms of quantities