Whether physically or chemically, you can over-exfoliate your skin and actually cause great damage to your skin barrier. Maybe what your skin needs to brighten up, is a break! See how to tell when you’ve hit your limit and how to fix it!
There are two types of exfoliants physical –face and body scrubs–, and chemical –these are acid-based products– that are used to eliminate dead skin cells, excess oil, and other impurities.
They are actually a double-edged sword and people do tend to over-exfoliate –it is actually the single most significant cause of breakouts. But, more worryingly, exfoliating too much can create tiny cracks in the skin barrier that can lead to loss of hydration and inflammation –and it is difficult to differentiate from other skin issues, and we continue to exfoliate hoping that our skin will get better –something similar to the circle of poisoning of Queen Elizabeth who used a lead-based makeup that ruined her skin, but she kept on using it to cover the wounds that the very product had caused to her complexion.
Here is how to tell if you are over-exfoliating
If your face feels itchier and more inflamed than usual, it might be due to your exfoliating habits. If when you apply your products or wash your face, it might be a sign that you’ve hit your limit.
The short-term effects are itchiness, pain and eczema-like patches, but if your skin is sensitive, too much exfoliation can break your blood vessels under the surface of your skin. This gets even worse if you fail to wear sunscreen or moisturize well –your skin needs hydration to maintain elasticity and avoid flakiness.
Over-exfoliated and under-hydrated skin loses its ability to keep its barrier intact and this is particularly dangerous because it exposes you to environmental damage. What’s worse, in darker skin tones, when irritation heals it can turn into hyperpigmentation and scarring.
If you think you might be overusing your scrubs and acids, put your routine to a halt. Avoid exfoliation and products that contain skin irritants like cleansers containing glycolic acid or serums with salicylic acid. Use a bland cleanser and go for topical creams with reparative ingredients and peptides.
This does not mean that you have to eliminate exfoliants, just be moderate and try a small patch test for up to 2 weeks to see if you notice any irritation.