Exfoliating the skin can be satisfying and revitalizing. You can effortlessly unveil smooth and supple skin along with minimizing dry patches. However, can you go overboard with exfoliation, and what effect does that have on your skin?
What Is Exfoliation?
Healthline describes exfoliation as “the process of removing dead skin cells from the surface of your skin using a chemical, granular substance or exfoliation tool…sometimes dead cells don’t shed completely. This can lead to dry, flaky patches and clogged pores.”
Exfoliation can make way for new skin cells to the surface to promote a youthful and blemish-free complexion.
Types Of Exfoliators
The two most popular types of exfoliators are physical and chemical exfoliants. Each provides its way of removing dead skin cells from the skin’s surface.
Physical or manual exfoliators can include your classic facial scrubs formulated with microbeads or sugar. These types of exfoliators target the face’s surface but can sometimes cause abrasion if used incorrectly or too frequently.
Chemical exfoliants usually include some form of acid like Salicylic, Mandelic, Glycolic, etc. In addition, some acids like BHAs can exfoliate and treat the skin from underneath the surface. Chemical exfoliants are often found in serums or toners.
They may cause burns or irritation if used too frequently or mixed with the wrong products.
Benefits Of Exfoliation
Exfoliation can benefit all skin types when correctly and safely implemented into your skincare regimen.
Healthline states, “the benefits of exfoliation include removing dead skin cells, improving circulation, encouraging skin turnover resulting in brighter skin, and allowing for better absorption of moisturizers and serums.”
Can You Over Exfoliate Your Skin?
While exfoliating can transform your skin for the better, going overboard can leave you feeling irritated, tender, and inflamed.
Kate Somerville claims, “over-exfoliation can strip our face of what it needs to maintain a glowing complexion. Too much of the wrong type of exfoliation may be too aggressive or irritating for your skin type.”
Signs Of Over Exfoliation
How can you tell if you’re over-exfoliating your skin? The skin should typically improve with proper exfoliation techniques. However, too much exfoliation can worsen the state of your skin rather than promote a smoother complexion.
Some common signs of exfoliation include increased redness, inflammation, or a damaged skin barrier.
You may notice the skin can look puffy or inflamed when you over-exfoliate. This is because both chemical and physical exfoliation can increase the severity of your skin, especially if blemishes or skin conditions are present.
Over-exfoliation can even potentially lead to more breakouts. We’ve mentioned how over-exfoliation can strip the skin, especially when no supplemental skincare routine is present. This may lead to your skin overproducing sebum and leading to more breakouts.
Redness is also a common side effect of over-exfoliation. This may be present in more dry, mature, or sensitive skin types who may not be acne prone. However, redness can also be accompanied by acne, so it can vary by skin type.
When applying skincare products, does your skin feel like it burns, stings, or peels? It may signify over-exfoliation and that your skin needs time to recover.
One way to heal the skin is by repairing the skin barrier and implementing barrier-supporting ingredients.
How Often Should You Exfoliate?
So the question remains, how often should you exfoliate your skin? It can depend on your skin type, what exfoliator you apply, and how well your skin tolerates it.
It’s generally recommended to exfoliate 1-3 times per week, depending on your skin type. Also, please get in touch with a dermatologist before exfoliating to receive personalized care and treatment.