Beauty Products You Can Become Overdependent On

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Did you know it's possible for you — and your skin — to become overly dependent on beauty products? "Our skin does become acclimated to the products we use," Dr. Dendy Engelman, board-certified dermatologic surgeon, told Byrdie.

Often, people overuse or overly rely on skin care and beauty products without even realizing it. Items that you are likely to have on hand at all times, like lip balm, can easily become a mindless habit, which can sometimes cause adverse effects. As with most things, the key to using cosmetics is often moderation. It's also important to pay attention to how your skin reacts to the products you're using. "If you're noticing your skin has built up a tolerance to products and their benefits aren't as apparent then it's time to switch things up," Rhonda Klein, board-certified dermatologist and partner at Modern Dermatology, told Byrdie. Additionally, some products are more likely than others to lead to overdependence or overreliance. 

Facial cleansing brushes

Facial cleansing brushes have seen a spike in popularity over the years, with options ranging from Olay's Regenerist Face Cleansing Device to PMD's Clean Smart Facial Cleansing Device. With their ease of use, it is not hard to become overly dependent on this tool by incorporating it into your daily routine. Usually, these brushes promise to clean up to five times better than the traditional method; however, cleansing brushes can do more harm than good to your skin with frequent use over time.

"Over-cleaning the gentle skin of the face, especially with brushes, can cause tiny microscopic abrasions to the skin, leaving it to become rough and dry over time," board-certified dermatologist Tanya Kormeili told The List. This can lead to the habitual use of a cleansing brush. As Dr. Kormeili explained to us, "This causes people to brush more and more and to try to get rid of the dry skin, causing a vicious cycle. It is important to be gentle and not to over-cleanse the delicate facial skin with brushes."

Although this information may come as a surprise, you don't have to toss out your beloved facial cleansing brush just yet. These products are actually great in moderation and even promote skin cell turnover. Valerie Aparovich, certified cosmetologist, aesthetician, biochemist, and science team lead at OnSkin, told The List, "Face cleansing brushes are a helpful skin care tool as they help remove excess sebum and gently exfoliate the skin, promoting its cleaner and fresher appearance."

Medicated lip balm

Lip balm easily gets overused because many of us get used to the feeling of it on our lips and feel the need to reapply once that feeling dissipates. However, depending on the ingredients in your favorite lip balm, overuse can actually cause your lips to chap more.

Gunavardhan Kakulapati, cofounder and CEO of Cure Skin, advised us to "steer clear of ones containing menthol, phenol, or camphor. These balms may feel cooling upon application, but their alcohol components can irritate the skin and remove outer layers, leaving your lips vulnerable to further sun damage and even sunburn." Dermatologists agree, Dr. Hadley King telling MindBodyGreen, "They evaporate quickly, and you will need to reapply if you aren't using good emollients and occlusives." Kakulapati further told The List, "Also, avoid scented and flavored lip balms. These contain chemical flavorings and fragrances that can cause further irritation, leading to repeated usage." 

Although the aforementioned ingredients should be avoided, that doesn't mean there aren't better alternatives out there. "Look for lip balms containing aloe, mineral oil, or glycerin ingredients," Kakulapati advised. "These components help hold lip moisture without irritation. Natural alternatives like beeswax and vitamin E are excellent but may still irritate those with sensitive skin."


In today's beauty world, it's become the norm to have a full face of makeup when going out. As such, one beauty product that has gained a lot of traction — foundation. The issue with foundation is that although it can provide great coverage and create the appearance of an even complexion, it usually has no benefits for your skin. In fact, those with acne or discoloration are especially susceptible to becoming overly dependent on foundation, as they may rely on daily use to cover blemishes. However, foundation often does this at the expense of exacerbating underlying issues.

"Frequent use of makeup can clog pores, leading to acne breakouts and other skin problems," professional makeup artist Sarah Abraham told The List. "Some makeup products can cause skin irritation, redness, and sensitivity, especially if they contain harsh chemicals or fragrances."

It is important to understand your skin and opt for products that are compatible with it. For example, if you have acne-prone skin and opt for a heavy-coverage foundation for everyday wear, you will likely experience more acne due to clogged pores. It is crucial to give your skin a break by taking a few makeup-free days each week. It is also important to wash your face and properly remove makeup every time you wear it to avoid breakouts.

Teeth whitening

If there's one thing everyone wants, it's whiter teeth. Today, teeth whitening is more convenient than ever before and doesn't even require a visit to the dentist. From whitening strips to whitening toothpaste to even at-home UV lights, the options are endless. Celebrities, especially, have even opted to replace their teeth with veneers to achieve a perfectly straightened and whitened Hollywood smile.

Dr. Catrise Austin of VIP Smiles, who happens to be Cardi B's dentist, told The List, "In the past two decades, there has been a significant increase in consumers' self-awareness of dental aesthetics." Austin further noted, "However, this accessibility has led to some individuals going to extremes and over-whitening their teeth, resulting in potential harm. One term that has been used to describe this phenomenon is bleachorexia, which refers to individuals who are addicted to tooth bleaching and constantly seek whiter teeth."

It's important to only whiten your teeth in moderation. Many dentists recommend getting a whitening treatment only every six months to avoid any damage to the tooth's enamel. To understand if you are overusing whitening products, "look for common side effects of peroxide products, such as tooth sensitivity and gum irritation," Austin advised.

Facial cleansers

Have you noticed your facial cleanser isn't working as well as it used to? Some ingredients can lead to your body developing a tolerance, but more than likely you've been depending on the same product for too long and your skin's needs have simply changed.

Cosmetic dermatologist Dr Shawana Vali told The List, "Your skin is an organ so it adapts the way all organs do. What worked for your skin six months ago might not work now because you have different needs. So when we say our skincare has 'stopped working', this indicates that there are deeper conditions that need to be addressed."

When choosing a cleanser, it's important to keep your skin type in mind. Those who have oily skin may benefit from oil-free face washes while those with dry skin would benefit from a more moisturizing cleanser. There are also several options for those who have sensitive skin or skin conditions like acne or rosacea. Finding the right cleanser is crucial to maintaining a skin care routine that works best for your skin and can prevent the need to wash your face more than necessary.

Setting spray

Setting spray has slowly become an essential product in many people's makeup bags; however, when it comes to your skin, it's something that is best used only in moderation and not for everyday use.

Many setting sprays actually contain skin irritants, like alcohol, which can lead to unwanted skin problems over even overdependence. Professional makeup artist Sarah Abraham told us, "Overusing setting spray can cause clogged pores, dryness, sticky residue, dependency, and inhalation of chemicals." 

Setting spray is still a must-have product to keep in your arsenal. It can be a lifesaver for extending the wear of your makeup while at outdoor events, like weddings, in humid temps. However, Abraham cautioned, "It's important to use a setting spray in moderation, follow the recommended usage instructions, and choose products with natural, non-toxic ingredients to avoid potential negative effects." There are also alternative methods to setting spray to consider, like setting powder, makeup primers, and even using the "baking" method

Face scrubs

Facial scrubs are another product that gets easily misused because of the instant results scrubs can provide for your skin. Those with dry skin are especially susceptible to becoming overly dependent on facial scrubs due to scrubs quickly ridding the skin of any dry flakes or patches. The problem with this is that using a scrub on dry skin can exacerbate one's dryness and can lead to other skin problems, some even causing long-term damage.

Certified cosmetologist-aesthetician, biochemist, and science team lead at OnSkin Valerie Aparovich told The List, "When exfoliation becomes a too frequent habit, it can result in dryness, irritation, and inflammation for dry and normal skin and stimulate more intense sebum production and acne breakouts for oily and combination skin." She continued, saying, "Over-using any exfoliating product can lead to a disrupted hydrolipid barrier and skin's decreased defensive functions, making it more susceptible to external irritants, like UV radiation, wind, air pollution, and bacteria."

Avoid relying too heavily on facial scrubs by limiting yourself to using them only once or twice a week. It is also important to be mindful of the ingredients in your facial scrubs. Facial scrubs may contain products like walnut shells or microbeads, which can cause micro-tears in the skin.

Lip scrubs

Lip scrubs are another product that you need to be mindful of and only use in moderation due to their abrasiveness. Due to viral beauty gurus posting their beauty tips, many have incorporated lip scrubs into their daily morning routine, which is not recommended by dermatologists.

Professional makeup artist Sarah Abraham told The List, "Some lip scrubs also contain harsh particles that can cause micro-tears in the skin [and] overuse of lip scrubs can cause irritation, redness, and sensitivity, as well as lead to over-exfoliation and damage to the delicate skin on the lips." To avoid any of these adverse effects, limit the use of lip scrubs to one to two times a week.

Opt for a lip scrub that contains natural and gentle ingredients. For those with a knack for DIY, you can easily make your own lip scrub with just a handful of natural ingredients you already have at home like sugar, honey, and coconut oil. 


Although it may sound counterintuitive, it's actually ideal to limit the number of times you wash your hair to just a few times per week. Frequent hair washing can cause your hair to quickly become dry and brittle by not allowing the hair a chance to produce its natural oils. Over time, this makes the hair susceptible to damage such as split ends and breakage. However, this can be easily avoided by limiting the number of times you wash your hair each week. 

The ingredients in the shampoo you use can also cause adverse effects if used too often. Professional makeup artist Sarah Abraham explained to The List, "Frequent washing can cause scalp irritation, itching, and flakiness, especially if harsh shampoos are used." Abraham also revealed that overwashing can decrease the product's efficacy. "Paradoxically, frequent washing can also lead to greasy-looking hair, as the scalp may over-produce oil to compensate for the natural oils that are being stripped away," she revealed.