These 5 Skincare Treatments Can Ruin Your Skin (If You Abuse Them)

by Gio

5 skincare treatments that can damage skin

I think I gave you the wrong impression.

I’m a skincare geek with a beauty blog. That sort of means I try every lotion and potion under the sun, have a 10 step skincare routine and go for facials every other week.

This couldn’t be further from the truth.

I’m very selective of the skincare products I try. My skincare routine rarely features more than 4 steps. And facials are a rare treat before a special occasion.

Because, as much as I love skincare, I think we’re overdoing it. Skin needs tender loving care. The more stuff you do to it, the higher the chance you’ll upset it.

Sure, there are times when you need to bring in the big guns. But I see so many women with great skin who go to extreme lengths to prevent sun damage when simply wearing sunscreen would do. Or women who are OCD with cleansing and then complain their skin is dry as sandpaper.

The truth is, even the best skincare treatments can ruin your skin if you abuse them. Here are the worst culprits:

eudelo clinic

1. Chemical Peels

Chemical peels are exfoliating treatments on steroids. 

They use acids, like glycolic and lactic, to remove the top layers of the skin, which are tarnished by dark spots, wrinkles and other imperfections. Without them, skin looks more even-toned, smoother and brighter.

Peels are great every now and then. If dark spots are starting to make an unsightly appearance on your face, I’d go as far as to say they are a must. Under medical supervision.

Don’t even try to buy one of those 50% glycolic acid peels you can find on Amazon or Ebay. Those are dangerous and the people selling them completely irresponsible.

Beware of facials, too. These days, chemical peels are often parts of facials. Before a big occasion, that’s cool. But if you go for a facial every few weeks, you’ll soon find yourself with paper-thin skin. Let me explain.

Why Are Chemical Peels Bad?

Here’s the deal. Those dead cells on the surface of your skin are there for a reason. Their job is to protect the new and raw skin underneath that’s not ready to come to the surface yet.

Remove one layer too many and your skin will become all red and inflamed. It’ll hurt like hell, too. For weeks, if not months. This kind of damage heals SLOWLY.

But you don’t need to go that far deep to do some serious damage. If you go for a peel every month, you never give your skin the time it needs to heal itself and recompose those layers of dead skin.

The result? Your skin becomes so thin, it’s practically transparent. You can actually see what’s under it.

There’s worse.

Your skin is your first barrier against the outside world. Against bad weather, germs and all that stuff that can hurt you. When skin is so thin, you’re practically left unprotected.

And don’t get me started on sun damage. It’s no secret peels increase skin’s sensitivity to the sun. When your skin is that thin, sun damage is a done deal. And then, you’ll have to have more peels to get rid of the dark spots and wrinkles that causes. It’s a vicious circle.

What You Should Do Instead

Well, you can still have a peel done every now and then. I have a mild glycolic acid peel done once or twice a year. 

If I had dark spots, I may have them done a bit more often, if my doctor agreed that’s a good idea.

My point is, don’t have chemical peels done for the sake of it. If you want to prevent premature aging, there are better ways to do it.

Related: TCA Peel VS Glycolic Peel: Which One Is Better For You?

Less is more. Even the best #skincare treatments can ruin your skin if abused.Click to Tweet

the ordinary glycolic acid toning solution

2. Overexfoliation

This is related to chemical peels, so I’ll be brief.

Chemical peels are the quickest way to remove enough layers of dead cells to cause some serious damage. But, anything you use to exfoliate your skin can do the damage if used too often.

That includes milder concentrations of lactic and glycolic acid, scrubs, the Clarisonic, microdermabrasion

In moderation, they give you brighter, smoother, even-toned skin. In excess…

Related: Does The Clarisonic Help Or Harm The Skin?

Why Is Overexfoliation Bad?

Again, it exposes raw skin, which is ugly and painful. And it makes skin more prone to irritations and sun damage.

What You Should Do Instead

Exfoliate in moderation. Some experts say you can exfoliate daily if you’re gentle enough but I’m not a big fan of that.

What I recommend is between one and four times a week, depending on your skin type:

Dry: Twice

Oily/combo: Three or four

Sensitive: Once

Related: What’s The Best Exfoliator For Your Skin Type & How Often Should You Do It?

optiat pick me up lemongrass lifter coffee scrub

3. Scrubs

Ok, ok, you got that exfoliation can be dangerous business if done too often. But, scrubs do deserve a special mention. Because they’re bad. Period.

So, what’s a scrub?

Anything that uses small particles to exfoliate. For example, apricot kernels or walnut shells.

Related: Physical Vs Chemical Exfoliation: Which One Is Right For You?

Why Are Scrubs Bad?

Because those little unassuming natural particles often have ragged and jarred edges that can scratch and tear the skin.

That’s not good. Especially when germs and bacteria use them to find their way inside your body. Need I say more?

P.S. Have you heard? St Ives is being sued for its famous apricot scrub for this very reason!

What You Should Do Instead

Use a gentler exfoliant. But which one? That depends on your skin type, too:

Dry skin: glycolic acid

Oily skin: salicylic acid

Sensitive skin: lactic acid or washcloth

Related: Glycolic VS Lactic VS Salicylic Acid: Which One Is Right For You?

eucerin dermopurifyer oil control cleansing gel

4. Overcleansing

Ok, I’m done with overexfoliation. Promise. Now, let’s talk about overcleansing.

We’ve become obsessed with cleansing. It’s not enough to cleanse once anymore. Now it’s all about double cleansing.

Wait, that’s outdated, too. The latest Korean craze is triple cleansing. And, frankly, that’s the stupidest thing I’ve heard in a long while.

Triple cleansing starts with using a cleansing wipe to get rid of eye makeup. Because we all know how good those are at removing stubborn makeup. All that rubbing to remove next to nothing is oh so good for the delicate eye area… I’m being sarcastic, obvs.

I’m not saying cleansing is bad. Of course, you want to get rid of the dirt and makeup on your skin. And I do like double cleansing – when done right.

But, it’s one thing to cleanse the skin. It’s another to make it squeaky clean.

Related: Triple Cleansing Is A Thing: Should You Do It?

Why Is Overcleansing Bad?

You know sebum, that little thing we all love to hate?

Turns out, it’s pretty useful. It’s your skin’s natural moisturizer. If your skin doesn’t make enough of it, it becomes dry. And when skin is dry, irritations are just around the corner.

When you overcleanse, you get rid of too much sebum. That leads to dryness, flakiness and irritations. 

But how do you know when you’ve gone too far? Your skin will tell you.

You know that tight feeling you sometimes get after washing your face? That’s your skin’s way of telling you “Stop using that bloody cleanser so often. You’re stripping me naked and I don’t like it!”

What You Should Do Instead

Use a gentler cleanser. If you have oily skin, go with a foaming cleanser. Everyone else, use something creamy or oil-based. Those cleansers replenish the moisture they strip away, keeping your skin happy and balanced.

Doesn’t matter what skin type you have. Never cleanse more than twice a day. Never.

Related: How To Choose The Right Cleanser For Your Skin Type

5. DIY Skincare

I’m not saying DIY skincare is bad. A lot of it is pretty good.

You just need to take the time to learn how to formulate products properly. Scouring the internet for random recipes may do you more harm than good.

Auntie Google is pretty crazy. She’ll rave about how good exfoliating with baking soda is, recommend you pop that pimple with toothpaste and forget to warn you about the dangers of using honey in your DIY lotions and potions.

All things that spell bad news for your skin.

Why Is DIY Skincare Bad?

Baking soda and toothpaste are really harsh on the skin. They could seriously irritate it. Burn it even. And, with all that sugar, honey can turn your cream into a playground for bacteria.

And don’t get me started on DIY sunscreen. Without proper testing, how do you know it even works?

There’s a lot more to DIY skincare than mixing random stuff in a bowl. You need to know what ph an ingredient has, how it plays with other ingredients, how well it can penetrate your skin…

Ignore even one of these things and you risk doing some serious damage to your skin.

What You Should Do Instead

I’m not saying you should avoid DIY skincare. I know some of you love making your lotions and potions.

But, please, take the time to learn how to do it properly. Get help from an expert, take a course, double check your sources, get the right equipment.

Don’t simply trust everything Auntie Google tells you.

The Bottom Line

Skincare is like everything else. Good in moderation. But even the best treatments can turn into a nightmare if you abuse them. Be safe!

Has a skincare treatment ever ruined your skin? Share your experience in the comments below.



f.c. February 15, 2017 - 8:10 pm

Love LOVE this post! Made all these mistakes far too many times, and it’s something I have to constantly remind myself and others to have balance with.

It’s very easy to get overzealous with treatments when you see that initial bump of improvement. The trick is having the willpower to go against your first instinct in favor of patience.

Gio February 27, 2017 - 2:23 pm

F.C. couldn’t agree more. It’s so easy to go overboard but too much of a good thing is never a good thing.

audrey March 8, 2017 - 6:25 am

I have sensitive skin (and eczema-prone & rosacea-prone) so I avoid any treatments for the past 2 years. I don’t exfoliate with chemical/physical exfoliant, i don’t cleanse it with cleansers & water (i only use micellar water in a couple of cotton swabs), and i didn’t go for facials or anything. I know this might sounds a bit extreme but the result is pretty amazing! I don’t spend my money on tons of skincare products (exfoliants, facials and cleansers are not cheap when you continously use it) and my skin has never looked better to be honest 🙂

Gio March 14, 2017 - 8:20 pm

Audrey, that’s great. I’m a big believer that less is more when it comes to skincare. You don’t have to use 1000 skincare products/treatments to make it look good. Your skin always tells you what it needs. You just have to listen. Maybe, as you get older, things will change and you may want to incorporate an exfoliant or something in your routine, but as long as your skin doesn’t complain, why risk it?

audrey March 15, 2017 - 8:34 am

Now I only use the gentlest products available (mostly products from French pharmacie, such as Avene, La Roche Posay, Nuxe, Evian, etc) and finally I get that “glow from within” skin I have been dreaming of. All this time it looks so dull and blotchy because I used to use so many irritating products. Thank you for recommending great products for sensitive skin, Gio!

Gio March 15, 2017 - 1:40 pm

My pleasure. So glad you’ve finally found what works best for your skin.

Trin May 23, 2017 - 1:18 pm

Hello Gio,

Thanks for this post, it’s great! I think we very often forget that results take time and overdo it thinking we’ll see a difference quicker.

I wanted to ask you about over exfoliating though. I use Skinceutical’s Blemish+Age defense which contains LHA, Salicylic Acid, etc. They recommend to use it twice a day but I only use it once. Is the product exfoliating my skin too much? It’s a great product and it leaves my skin glowing, but does it come at a cost? My skin is oily although it can get dry in winter, but I have blemishes unless I look after it really well. And I’m 30 so starting on the anti aging regime!

Also, does this mean the product is making my skin more sensitive to sun? Does it matter whether I apply it morning or night?

I would also love to know what you think about this product in general or if you recommend a similar one that works better or is cheaper! 🙂

Sorry for all these questions and thank you for your help!



Gio May 27, 2017 - 7:00 pm

Trin, hello. I couldn’t agree with you more. It’s so easy to go overboard with skincare that works.

In general, I recommend moderate exfoliation as I think for a lot of people daily exfoliation is too much. But, it also depends on your skin type, the thickness of your skin, what exfoliating ingredient you’re using and in what amount… One thing’s for sure. If you’re over exfoliating, your skin will let you know. If there’s no trace of redness or flakiness, all’s good.

All exfoliants make skin more susceptible to the sun as they remove a layer of skin cells. To avoid the damage, you can either exfoliate at night or use it with sunscreen in the morning (although… you should be using sunscreen anyway).

As for this Skinceutical products, it does contain enough salicylic acid to exfoliate skin and prevent/treat breakouts. But, it also has a lot of alcohol, could be drying and irritate it. If you fancy switching, Paula’s Choice has several BHA exfoliators that are just as effective and alcohol-free.

Jenny October 4, 2017 - 1:13 am

Hi Gio,

Thanks for sharing these tips, I will be aware from all these treatments. I always know that chemical peel is bad, I know friend over using chemical peel that results in redness and inflammation of her skin; I never use such product. When it comes to DIY skincare, I always use lemon, honey, and avocado oil. I don’t use them all in just one recipe, instead, I google first of what’s the best skincare recipe using these ingredients.

Gio October 6, 2017 - 8:47 pm

Hi Jenny, I wouldn’t say chemical peels are bad. I have them done but by a professional only 3 or 4 times a year. It’s not something you should do yourself or have done too often. I also wouldn’t use lemon on your face. Honey and avocado oil are fine but lemon can irritate skin too. 🙁

Bridget March 29, 2018 - 6:26 pm

What about retin-a for women who are wanting serious antiaging? It works miracles, but is VERY drying..whats your opinion?

Gio March 31, 2018 - 10:46 am

Bridget, if you’ve reached a point where OTC retinoids don’t give you good results anymore then I’m all for upgrading to prescription retinoids. I don’t these destroy your skin. They just need to be introduce into your skincare routine carefully to minimise side effects like dryness.


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