Over-Exfoliating: Too Much of a Good Thing

Exfoliating is an important step in your skincare routine. It helps to remove dead skin cells from the surface of your skin and reveal the healthy, glowing skin underneath.

Sometimes, over-exfoliation can occur, doing your skin more harm than good. Yes, you really can have too much of a good thing.

What you're doing when you over-exfoliate is stripping your skin of more than just dead skin cells; you're also removing the necessary oils that work to keep your skin healthy and hydrated.

How do I know if I'm over-exfoliating?

As a general rule of thumb, you typically want to exfoliate once or twice a week. Exfoliating more often than that can cause damage to your skin and cause it to become compromised.

Over-exfoliating can often look like:

  • redness
  • irritation
  • inflammation
  • breakouts
  • increased oil production
  • increased sensitivity
  • rough, flaky skin

When exfoliating, you need to be gentle with your skin. The exfoliator will do the work for you; you don't need to apply more pressure or scrub harder than you normally do when applying other skincare products.

Scrubbing too hard can damage your skin by causing dryness, irritation, painful cracking and peeling, or even broken capillaries. Damaged skin is also more prone to bacteria, making your skin more susceptible to breakouts and inflammation.

When exfoliating, you want to maintain small, circular motions and remember to be gentle. It's also important to understand your specific skin type to see which exfoliants will work best for you.

What if I'm already over-exfoliating?

Don't worry, you can get your healthy, glowing skin back! Your first step is to stop exfoliating for about 2-4 weeks to let your skin recover. If you're not already, you'll also want to make sure you're using a gentle cleanser and a fragrance-free moisturizer to avoid further irritating your skin.

Spot-treat your red or raw areas with a nutrient-rich emollient, like Aquaphor or a hydrocortisone cream. Use sunscreen (if you're not already) everyday to protect your skin from sun damage.

It can take up to a month for your skin to fully recover. Once it has, you can slowly start to reintroduce your skincare products and exfoliants back into your routine.

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