Exfoliating your skin keeps it soft, smooth, and clear. It also promotes a youthful glow. Although your skin naturally exfoliates itself, your skincare products and lotion hinder this process. This can lead to clogged pores, breakouts, and premature aging. While exfoliating is an essential part of every skincare routine, there is such a thing as over-exfoliating.
How Often Should You Exfoliate?
You should exfoliate your face 1 to 3 times per week. Same with your body, unless you are using a gentle daily exfoliator such as a soft puff or a body gel with exfoliators built in. There are two primary types of exfoliators:
Chemical: exfoliating masks or acid-based leave-on or rinse-off products formulated with hydroxy acid or salicylic acid
Most skincare devices should be used 1 or 2 days per week and all exfoliators should be used as directed.
Regardless of what product you are using, be gentle—as exfoliating should never feel painful.
How Does Over-Exfoliation Occur?
Once you see and feel the benefits of exfoliation, you might consider increasing the frequency. However, more is not better. If you over-exfoliate you run the risk of removing both the dead skin and the top healthy layer of skin. This isn’t just painful as it damages your skin and leaves it looking less than it’s best.
Some of the most common causes of over-exfoliation include:
- Exfoliating too frequently
- Scrubbing too hard
- Scrubbing too long
- Using products incorrectly
What Are The Signs Of Over-Exfoliation?
Over-exfoliating removes too many skin cells and your skin’s natural protective oils. This overexposes your skin, leading your sebaceous glands to work on overtime. They will overproduce oil to create a protective layer. This won’t be a desirable glow, but an oily glow.
Signs of over-exfoliated skin include:
- An oily glow
- A waxy appearance
- Crepey texture
- Dry skin
- Tight skin
- Product sensitivity
How To Resolve Over-Exfoliated Skin?
If you are experiencing the symptoms above and you believe they’re due to over-exfoliating, follow the tips below:
- Stop exfoliating until your skin repairs itself.
- Switch to a gentle cream cleanser.
- Only apply fragrance-free skincare products.
- Stop using skincare products that sting, unless it’s a restorative product.
- Consider wearing no makeup or light coverage for the next week or so.
- Use a calming or reparative moisturizer.
- Spot-treat raw and inflamed areas with aloe, Aquaphor, or hydrocortisone cream.
If your symptoms get worse or don’t improve within the next 7 days, schedule an appointment with your dermatologist. The longer your symptoms last, the greater the risk for bacteria growth, infection, and scarring. Another skin condition could be the cause of your irritation, or a prescription-grade product may be required to heal and repair the damage.
When your skin heals again, return to your regular skincare routine and begin exfoliating once per week. Gradually increase exfoliating to 2 to 3 days per week if irritation doesn’t return.
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