Signs of Over Exfoliation on Your Skin
We previously extolled the virtues of exfoliating for your skin’s health and it’s all true, but you should still be careful not to over exfoliate. Generally speaking, the more exfoliation, the better.
It may be unlikely that you will overdo, but it does happen. Like anything in life, it’s very possible to over do it. Too much of a good thing can always be bad for you.
What About Oily Skin?
Over-exfoliating the skin can put your sebaceous glands into a frenzy, causing them to produce more oil than necessary, and ultimately cause more breakouts to occur. So, stick to exfoliating less frequently and what works for you.
Any good skin care routine begins with the all-important cleansing process – but how much scrubbing is too much? If you haven’t been exfoliating properly and you start proper gentle exfoliation, you should notice changes. But any exfoliation that causes your skin to sustain a significant or defensive response for a prolonged period by your skin may mean that you’re likely exfoliating more than you should.
Signs of Over Exfoliation
- Shiny forehead: light reflects easily off of over-exfoliated skin because you’ve smoothed out the natural texture to your skin too much.
- Puffiness: over-exfoliation can also cause your skin to look a little puffy or swollen and can cause inflammation, which over time can damage your skin’s natural lipid barrier.
- Breakouts: you’d think that scrubbing your face would keep it clean enough that acne wouldn’t be a problem, but doing it too much can have the opposite effect.
- Tightness: the skin can feel tighter from excessive scrubbing while becoming sensitive or reddened with areas or dryness or dehydration.
- Peeling or flaking: usually the foremost signs of over-exfoliation due to loss of the skin’s natural barrier similar to symptoms of excessive dryness. The skin gets thinned because moisture is no longer kept in.
When you exfoliate properly, it can help to rid acne by clearing out dead skin cells that clog pores. But when you’re overdoing it, you’re also getting rid of all those healthy skin cells, which protect your skin’s natural barrier. The result is the very thing you’ve been trying to prevent. This can lead to hypersensitivity that can then cause breakouts. You may be the cause of your own acne. The key is to be gradual and gentle and consistent.
Dealing with Over-Exfoliation
If you notice one or any of these signs, adjust the exfoliation frequency or stop using your exfoliatant immediately. Wait until the unwanted shine, the swelling or the acne goes away, then slowly re-introduce exfoliating back into your routine, no more than once every other day.
While we may think we are doing our due diligence removing dead skin cells, dirt and excess oil from our face, we might be doing more harm than good. The telltale signs of over-exfoliated skin include redness, flaking, irritation and sometimes a burning sensation. Also, if your skin is very dry, this might be a symptom as well.
So how and why does this happen? Often, people unwittingly use multiple skin care products that contain exfoliating agents, i.e. retinol, glycolic acid, salicylic acid, or use a physical scrub/exfoliant in addition to a chemical exfoliant.
There is no control over the amount (gentleness) of and frequency of exfoliation being done when various exfoliation agents are used together or on a random schedule. A good skincare routine ensures that all parts of the skin care process, cleanse (including exfoliation), nourishing and protection all work together and with your skin’s natural functions.
To heal over-exfoliated skin, you should use a gentle non-foaming facial cleanser when cleansing your face. Avoid sun exposure and anti-aging creams with active ingredients to let the skin rest and heal completely before restarting your new, toned-down, gentle exfoliation routine.
All said, while exfoliation does a lot of good for the skin, it can do more damage if overdone. It’s important to do what works for you. Regular, gentle exfoliation can be a beneficial, healthy part of your regular skin care routine. However, good results from exfoliation have a limit. Being consistent and gentle yields the best sustainable results for your skin for years to come.