Derm DMs: Will I Break Out If I Switch Skin-Care Products Too Often?

February 04, 2020
Samantha Holender
By: Samantha Holender | by L'Oréal
Derm DMs: Will I Break Out If I Switch Skin-Care Products Too Often?

Admittedly, we’re commitment phobes when it comes to our skin-care products. It’s not that we don’t love our current regimen (trust us, we do), it’s more that we have a never-ending list of cleansers, serums and moisturizers that we want to take for a test run. But, we got to thinking: Could our non-committal relationship with skin care and constantly changing lineup be causing irritation and breakouts? To find out if stability in our routine is really the key to a flawless complexion, we consulted with board-certified dermatologist and Director of Clinical Research at Mount Sinai Dr. Joshua Zeichner. Find out what he had to say about why swapping out your skin care may be doing more harm than good. 

Is it Harmful to Switch Skin-Care Frequently? 

According to Dr. Zeichner, swapping out multiple products at once is troublesome. Reason being: In order to achieve any benefits from your skin-care products, you have to use them for at least several weeks. “Unfortunately, most products don’t give an immediate benefit,” says Dr. Zeichner. “They usually take weeks or even months to exert their effects.” He explains that this is most prominent with topical retinoids, hydroxy acids and antioxidants because it takes time to change the biology of the skin. While it may be tempting to try something new, it’s best to wait until you can actually see whether or not your current skin care is having any effect on the appearance of your skin before moving on. After all, you don’t want to miss out on any of the benefits. 

Can I Break Out From Changing My Skin-Care Routine? 

 Dr. Zeichner explains that if you’re switching products too often and experiencing irritation or acne breakouts, it can be  hard to pinpoint what’s responsible. What’s more, irritation (read: flakes and dry patches) might not be visible immediately but can translate into acne breakouts in the long run. “Irritation can lead to acne because you end up developing inflammation around the hair follicles, which promotes blockages, and that can cause breakouts — slow and steady wins the race, especially with skin care,” he says. 

If you try a new product as an isolated swap, you’ll know if it’s to blame for your breakouts. But with that being said, an acne flare-up  isn’t necessarily a red flag. Sometimes, when testing retinoids or hydroxy acids, your skin will purge before you start to see a difference, says Dr. Zeichner. “Purging is a process where the blockages in your pores are all brought to the surface at once, and you develop blackheads, whiteheads and pus pimples.” Give products a few weeks before making a decision to keep it in your regimen or toss it aside. 

What’s the Best Way to Incorporate New Products? 

If you are looking to mix up your routine, Dr. Zeichner recommends getting adjusted to one skin-care routine for several weeks before adding in a new product (just one). If you are going to swap out products frequently, Dr. Zeichner says you have more leniency when dealing with moisturizers, cleansers and toners rather than products with antioxidants, retinoids or acids. Regardless, it’s best to take the process slowly, especially when you have sensitive or easily irritated skin.

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