For years, “skinfluencers” embraced K-beauty’s famed 10-step routines. Now experts are advocating the complete opposite.
When Jodie Naglie moved back into her parents’ home in Orange County, Calif., to quarantine last spring, the first thing she did was upgrade her skin-care collection.
Newly flush with cash after giving up a San Francisco apartment, Ms. Naglie, 27, an account manager at an advertising agency, could finally afford the products recommended by influencers who “blew up” on TikTok during the pandemic, like Charlotte Parlerand What's on Vi's Face.
Soon, Ms. Naglie added a second cleanse, a beta hydroxy exfoliant, a hyaluronic acid, a vitamin C serum, a hydration serum with niacinamide and retinol. Her two-step routine quadrupled.
Her skin looked flawless for a couple of days, and then the irritation started. She abandoned her new regimen as quickly as she committed to it, applying nothing but moisturizer for 10 days before rebuilding a streamlined routine. Now, she uses a cleanser, a single serum and moisturizer.
“It seemed like there was an overwhelming number of things I needed to prepare my skin for — and I needed to start doing it now,” Ms. Naglie said. She felt pressure to use retinols, vitamin C, niacinamide and other of-the-moment ingredients that are supposed to clear blemishes and prevent wrinkles and saggy skin.
This is why April Gargiulo, the founder of the Vintner's Daughter skin-care brand, sells only two products, a water-based hydrator and an oil-based serum. Combined, they contain all the ingredients one typically gets from a multitude of items, Ms. Gargiulo said. She recommends using both, along with a sunscreen, and nothing else.
Tina Craig, also known as Bag Snob, the name of the designer handbag blog she started 15 years ago, used to travel with an extra suitcase of 20 full-size skin-care products (and a few pairs of shoes).
At its peak, Ms. Craig’s evening routine reached 15 steps (and 30 minutes). She proudly blogged about this, sharing the exhaustive list of emulsions she applied to her face, morning and night. One time, she canceled a flight to Las Vegas because she forgot her skin-care suitcase. (She flew out the next day.)
Eventually, the number of products got out of hand, and Ms. Craig’s rosacea flared up. She knew she had to downsize.
“I was doing so much to my skin,” said Ms. Craig, 50. “What made it look good was what made me break out.”
Last year, she came out with U Beauty, a skin-care brand with a serum, the Compound, and a moisturizer, the Super Smart Hydrator. Ms. Craig will “leave room for newness” but plans to stick to her Four C’s ideology: cleanse, compound, cream and cover (with sunscreen).
Today, she uses only two or three products, no more and no less.
A version of this article appears in print on Oct. 22, 2020, Section D, Page 3 of the New York edition with the headline: Face It: Your Skin-Care Routine May Be a Problem.