Cleansing, exfoliating and slathering on wrinkle creams seem to be the secret to smooth, fresh-looking skin. But if you overdo it, you can actually make your skin look worse, according to ShopSmart magazine.
It’s also easy to overdo it on nail polish removers, tooth whiteners, facial cleansers and wrinkle creams. How do you know if you’re guilty of beauty-product overkill? ShopSmart outlines the signs and how to prevent it:
• Exfoliation products. When you overdo it, by using an exfoliant too often or too vigorously, you can easily end up with red, blotchy skin and even abrasions.
“Just as you can scratch wood with sandpaper, you can scratch the surface of your skin by aggressive scrubbing,” says Dr. Barbara R. Reed, a clinical professor of dermatology at the University of Colorado Hospital in Denver.
Play it safe. Exfoliating once or twice per week is plenty. If you have highly sensitive skin, acne or rosacea, go easy with strong exfoliating products such as alpha hydroxy acid scrubs or mechanical brushes, which can make your skin condition worse.
• Nail polish removers. When you overdo it, your hands might look fresh, but if you use the wrong type of polish remover too often, your nails could become brittle and discolored.
“Most nail polish removers contain acetone, which dehydrates the nails,” says Dr. Erin Gilbert, an assistant professor of dermatology at SUNY Downstate Medical Center in New York City.
Play it safe. Limit the use of nail polish remover to a max of once per week. After removing polish, rinse your hands and nails with water to remove the chemicals and rehydrate the nails. Then moisturize your nails with hand cream or cuticle oil.
• Teeth whiteners. When you overdo it with at-home whitening strips, you can cause permanent damage by softening tooth enamel, irritating the dental pulp where the nerves are and even burning the gums and other soft tissues in the mouth, warns Dr. Gigi Meinecke, a dentist in Potomac, Md., and a spokeswoman for the Academy of General Dentistry.
“If your teeth become chalky white,” she says, “you’ve had a profound effect on the micro-hardness of the enamel. The tooth now is susceptible to abrasion even from a toothbrush.”
If you find that food is getting stuck between your front teeth, you may have “burned away that small triangle of gum that normally sits between each tooth.”
Play it safe. ShopSmart suggests using whitening strips as directed daily for just a week or two. Then use them for a day or two every other month to maintain the results.
• Facial cleansers. When you overdo it with sudsy or foaming cleansers – especially those with salicylic acid or glycolic acid – you could strip natural oils from your skin. That can cause dryness, itchiness, flakiness and inflammation – and emphasize the appearance of fine lines.
Play it safe. Vary your cleansing regimen with the seasons. In the warmer months, when you’re sweating, a sudsy or foaming cleanser will do a better job of cleansing and reducing clogged pores.
“Most people need to cleanse once a day if their face is dry, and twice a day in the summer if it is sweaty or oily,” Reed says.
• Wrinkle creams. When you overdo it on retinoid creams – especially strong prescription formulas – which work by stimulating collagen production and increasing cell turnover, you can end up with red, dry, peeling, stinging and burning skin. Play it safe. “A little goes a long way,” says Dr. Sonia Badreshia-Bansal, a dermatologist. who is also a clinical instructor at the UCSF Medical Center. “You only need a pea-sized amount for the entire face.”