Being over the top is not always good for your skin

On and off, I get some questions from readers that are worth highlighting as a separate post. One such is from Aleen, who has sensitive skin and she was actually too disciplined with her skin care routine. Well, in her words, she called herself a paranoid. But I don’t think she’s alone having such an issue as we have, one time or another, fell into the trap of being “over the top” and exercised too much zeal in our skin care routines.

Over cleansing and over exfoliating

I double cleanse every time I wash my face, twice a day, although not using makeup and exfoliate 3 times a week. I even use seperate facial and body towel, change my pillowsheets every 2 weeks and even have another layer of clean sheet to cover it. I eat a lot of fruits and vegetables, ate vit E supplement and wash my hands very frequently. I also have at least 7 hours of sleep every night and I trim my fingernails short, always. And I stay away from peanuts..! I’m a paranoid.

My problem is that recently my skin is constantly having major breakouts, especially on the cheeks after starting as little whiteheads. My friends advised me to lessen the frequency of cleansing and exfoliating but that seemed to cause more breakouts when the skin gets oilier. (she believes that my skin is losing its “bacteria fighting ability” since I’m being TOO CLEAN!)

Actually, her friend was right and I also told her that over exfoliating can make her skin dry and that’s why it is leading to more production of oil. So my advice to her was to cut down her exfoliation to once a week and to get an SLS/SLES free cleanser amongst other things. You can read the details in the comments section of this entry. About a week later, this is what she wrote:

Improvements after a week

My skin’s getting better and fairer.. amazingly! (in just like a week plus? super instant results..!) I’ve bought a facial foam with no SLS.. it feels clean and i don’t really need to double cleanse as often as I did before. I applied the water+oatmeal mask every 2-3 days and it really feels refreshing..! It smoothens my skin and somehow exfoliates off the dried and dead skin. I also reduce exfoliating session to once a week. I’m still using toner and moisturiser but surprisingly they don’t cause anymore breakouts recently.

Exercise moderation and balance
So ladies, while you take care of your skin and be on top of it, it’s best not to be over the top. Personally, I restrict myself to cleansing just twice a day and I only exfoliate more than twice a week if I have excessive breakouts. Otherwise, it’s just once or twice a week. When it comes to applying facial mask, I have tried using one consistently for a week before stopping and then resuming to once or twice a week. At the end of the day, I think moderation and balance is better than being excessive when it comes to our skin care routines.


  1. CT says:

    I only exfoliate once a week. As i have dry skin, I dont use any cleanser to wash my face in the morning. Wash with water and wipe my face with toner. As for evening, i double cleanse to remove sunblock. Its a cream based makeup remove followed by foam. Its not good to strip off our natural oil.

  2. stella says:

    i guess those of us with oilier skins tend to fall into this trap at one time or another…me, i was so doing this in my teenage years; thankfully, skin generally recovers fast from most abuses at that age

  3. sesame says:

    Yeah, young skin recovers quickly. Plus if it’s just over cleansing and over exfoliating, skin will recover over time once right strategy is employed. I’ve read from forums of older women who got too zealous with facial exercises and as such, created some sort of permanent damage.

  4. sesame says:

    You’re right – should not over cleanse to strip of natural oil. Our skin is quite clean in the morning so some of us can do with just water. One stage, I was also doing what you were doing – just used toner to wipe.

  5. pf1123 says:

    Yes. It is very difficult to explain this concept to my friends. Oily skin should be combat by hydration. And oil is not necessarily bad.

    They believe that oil is bad. Period.

    They have clogged pores all over. They refused to use cleaning oil I recommend to double cleanse. They make sure their moisturiser and make up is oil free.

    They refuse to experiment because they are afraid that their face will be worse.


  6. Brownies says:

    I realise I cant always use oil to cleanse, I does not work well and breakoutd. So I turn to clay mask every 2/3 days to draw out impurities without really exfoliate too hard. Now only my chin area is still giving me acne problem. Double cleanse does work, provided you use SLS or natural soup to clean ?

    and oil is really not that bad. At least I don’t have pre-mature wrinkles that some of my friends have now.

  7. Brownies says:

    I mean, having oily skin is not that bad.

  8. sesame says:

    Oh, so bad? They won’t listen at all? If what they’re doing is not working, why not try something new?

  9. sesame says:

    Acne at chin area is likely due to hormonal issues – usually associated with PMS.

  10. Brownies says:

    thanks for the information. I also think it was partly due to the stress that I am facing now.

    Hopefully with more pampering of myself, acne problem will improve. Cos work stress is here to accompany me, sadly, for now,

  11. dolly says:

    I really want to try out lip gloss, get a look like Bernice Liu but I am not sure if I can carry it off

  12. sesame says:

    I’m not sure if the all-in-one supplement I took or the probiotics supplement I took helped but I don’t have issues of chin acne now. Maybe if you can get your hands on probiotics (I get Kordel’s), give it a shot. A few pple I recommended were pleased with the results. Anyway, it’ll improve intestinal health…so generally, no harm.

  13. fwy says:

    I have been plagued by rosacea since young and that’s why I try not to exfoliate my skin. Nowadays my routine has been reduced to just cleansing and moisturizing. However, I noticed less redness and breakouts on my skin.

  14. Amanda says:

    I wash my face twice a day and exfoliate once a week. When I have makeup, I wash my face thrice (twice with makeup remover and once with normal cleanser) to get rid of the possible residue. And I apply honey as a morning mask almost five days a week. I hope I am not over-the-top type.

  15. Swathy says:

    I too believe over doing of the beauty routines can actually make the skin dry and speed up the aging process…cleansing and exfoliation both…even face masks can be applied everyday only if they are gentle enough otherwise they should also be limited to twice or thrice a week…

  16. ktee says:

    I totally believe that too much ‘good thing’ may not be good for the skin. I experienced it first hand. My skin condition was really bad a couple of months ago. Besides mild acne popping out every few days, i had serious clogged pores around my cheek and chin area. I also suffered from dry patches in certain parts of the face. About a month ago, i ditched the old routine and followed a very mild and the most basic routine. Now, my skin has cleared up!! In fact, i saw result one week after changing to the mild routine. I realized now that i had loaded my skin skin with too much and it was ‘screaming’ for help. I guess i’ve learnt an important lesson.

  17. sesame says:

    Agree totally! I think a simple routine is good. Just keep the skin clean, but don’t strip it off its natural lipids, and feed the basic food it needs. One thing at a time is good.

  18. sesame says:

    Yep, face masks I’ve tried using every day for a stretch but I know it’s not really advisable. I did it cos I had some skin problems then. Best to keep such treatments to once or twice a week max.

  19. sesame says:

    Sounds good to me. Honey is very gentle…don’t see an issue using it almost daily. I know some people use it as a cleanser.

  20. baroque_prinz says:

    Simple routine definitely is better in terms of fuss-free and and doesn’t have additional stress on the skin by working the skin too hard to absorb all the ingredients.

  21. sesame says:


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