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Skincare Sins: Understanding Over Exfoliation & Its Effects On Your Skin


April 28, 2021

While exfoliating your skin is good for getting rid of those dead skin cells, you might be doing too much. You may even be exfoliating your skin unconsciously.

Exfoliating is great to help you get rid of the dead skin cells and bringing out some new cells to the surface. It helps keep your skin fresh, smooth, and healthy and removes all the buildup from the product you’ve been using all week long.

You should only be exfoliating your skin once or twice a week; any more than that, and you could damage your skin. If you are guilty, you’ve probably noticed your skin reacting to it.

Chemical vs. Physical Exfoliants

Physical exfoliants have a type of grainy product that helps remove the cells on your skin by causing friction. It ranges from brushes to grains like rice and corn that help by gently scrubbing your skin and making room for new cells.

Chemical exfoliants use acids that loosen the skin cells and help them fall off; they don’t actually burn your face. Popular ingredients include glycolic and salicylic acid, which allow the dead cells to loosen off your face.

Chemical exfoliants might be better for sensitive skin, especially because physical exfoliants can lead to irritation. You should never use a chemical and biological exfoliant at the same time, be aware of the contents of your skincare products.

Signs Of Over Exfoliating

If you’ve over-exfoliated, your skin barrier has been compromised; this can leave your skin dehydrated and even make your acne worse. It also damages the small blood vessels in your skin, which can leave damage that lasts a long time!

If you’ve over exfoliated you might notice some redness and dry patches with noticeable peeling. Not to worry, you can practice some patience and build that barrier up again.

What To Do If You’ve Over Exfoliated


First things first, stop exfoliating! Only use a gentle face wash and moisturizer to help your skin recover and build up that weakened barrier.

If you see signs of irritation like redness and itchiness, try applying a cold compress or aloe gel to soothe the irritation. You can also use vitamin C serum to promote healing while waiting for your barrier to build back up.

Strengthening your skin barrier can take anywhere between days to weeks as each person’s skin is different. When you feel like your skin is ready to be exfoliated, you can slowly reintroduce exfoliation to your skincare routine again.