When the lockdown was imposed on March 24, Bhumika Malhotra, Bengaluru-based product designer, woke up to a very quiet morning. There was no rush to get ready for work or to meet deadlines. She decided to use the extra time catching up on skincare. The day would start with exfoliating. Afternoons were dedicated to deep cleansing, and as night drew, she pasted a sheet mask on her face. Malhotra did this for a month and had to eventually see a doctor. Her injudiciousness had caused her a serious bout of skin purging for which she is now taking treatment.
Too much of anything is a bad thing
It was Columbia University-educated skin specialist Dr Kiran Sethi, who recently spoke about a slew of people, particularly post lockdown, complaining of ache, rosacea, rashes… even eczema. With extra time on their hands, she said, people have gone overboard with skincare. They forgot that skin is designed to express health and protect against external elements. It is not designed to be perfect, she wrote on her Instagram handle.
Several dermatologists stand with her on this.
Overdoing anything is harmful and where the skin is concerned, this becomes tricky because it’s a delicate layer of protection for the body that guards against temperature variations, weather fluctuations, bacterial attacks, chemicals and others. Exfoliating has been the biggest villain in addition to over-hydrating in the last few months. “All of a sudden, people were home with extra time on their hands and so they decided to use every product from their arsenal at once. Like any other thing, skin too demands balance,” says Dr BL Jangid, Dermatologist and Hair Transplant Surgeon, SkinQure Clinic, New Delhi.
“Different products promise different benefits but over-layering those could be disastrous, as they don’t prove to be the perfect combinations. Besides, some products tend to lose their beneficial properties when mixed with chemicals and substances, resulting in skin disorders and itchiness like we’ve seen emerging in the last few months,” he adds. Stutee Rao, a 22-year-old student of architecture in Rajkot, who had never used anything on her skin besides a face wash and mild cream, jumped at the idea of experimenting with new products when her college called off classes. “It seemed like this was a great time to do everything I had fancied.
My skin had been breaking out and I decided to use the lockdown period to heal it. I used face scrubs, masks, serums… all at once thinking the more I use these, the faster my skin will improve, but on the contrary, I have developed rashes and extreme dryness for which I’m seeing a dermatologist,” she says.
A damaged skin barrier allows for skin conditions to germinate.
Exfoliating, for instance, with multiple chemical compositions can result in irritation, redness, soreness, pimples and other things. You will also begin to see a change in the skin’s texture. “There could be thinness of skin and loss of tightness. Skin allergies are a common side-effect of overuse of skincare products. Premature ageing is known to happen to many. And no, even your anti-ageing products won’t work if used in excess. For some people, indiscriminate use of skincare can lead to a hormonal imbalance,” says Jangid.
Natural products need balance too
It’s a misnomer that home remedies can be used without balance. This leads to a host of skin disturbances and people don’t realise this because they consider everything coming out of a kitchen safe. “Fruit extracts, lime juice, and potato are not advised to people with dry, flaky skin or those taking acne medication. Butter, milk and cream tend to worsen oily skin by increasing whiteheads. Acidic products like vinegar prove to be harmful to people with sensitive skin,” he says.
Reversing the damage
For those who have developed a skin condition due to overindulgence, there are a few things you can do to control the damage. “Firstly, it’s important to identify the problem and its causative agent. Your dermatologist will help you with this. Removal of the causative agent is the first step towards the treatment.
To reverse the symptoms, one needs to keep up with the treatment and not lose patience when results don’t show up immediately,” says dermatologist Simal Soin, also the founder of Aayna Clinic in Delhi and Ludhiana. She adds, “On your part, you can consume a healthy diet, stay hydrated and use products mindfully. Don’t follow fads, they may not be for you. Everyone must learn to think for themselves. And before trying a new product, read the ingredients carefully.” But most of all, the only thing that can be used in excess is moderation.
Over-indulgence in skincare can lead to:
- Thinness of skin and loss of tightness
- Skin allergies
- Premature ageing
“Different products promise different benefits but over-layering those could be disastrous, as they don’t prove to be the perfect combinations.”
Dr BL Jangid, Dermatologist and Hair Transplant Surgeon, SkinQure Clinic, New Delhi
“To reverse damage caused to skin by overusing skincare products, it’s important to identify the problem and its causative agent and removing it is the first step towards the treatment.”
Simal Soin, Dermatologist; Founder, Aayna Clinic, Delhi and Ludhiana