When you have acne, it's normal to feel like applying more, more, more products will clear your skin faster. It seems effective in theory, but in practice, piling on treatments can actually do more harm than good. "Most acne medications, to some extent, dry out the skin," explained dermatologist Michelle Henry, MD. "So when you are using multiple ingredients that dry out the skin, you can actually get a rash or dermatitis as a result." Henry explained that the type of dermatitis can differ depending on the skin reaction you get. It can come from excessive exposure to soap and water or if you have contact with a substance you are allergic to.
If you overuse acne or breakout treatments and you have brown skin, you also run the risk of worsening (or creating) hyperpigmentation, she said. "In dark skin especially, you have to balance your irritation. So you want to dry it out just enough to treat the acne, but not so much that you can upset the skin and you cause inflammation." What's more, if you're using too harsh of a cleanser — like one that is infused with benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid — and then dabbing on other pimple-fighting products afterward, you could be running the risk of irritation. So if you're going to be using acne treatments, opt for gentle, hydrating ingredients in other parts of your regimen. Use a gentle cleanser and stick to rich, nourishing creams at night. Henry also advises you stay away from DIY home remedies to treat your skincare concerns, particularly apple cider vinegar, which can be just as dangerous as applying too many acne products.
Moral of the story? More isn't always better when it comes to treating acne. Sometimes things have to get worse before they get better, but in this case, consider overapplying treatments a big exception.