Exfoliation is key when it comes to a healthy complexion, ensuring that your skin stays fresh, firm and radiant. However, working out exactly how often to exfoliate can be tricky, making it important to be able to recognize the signs of over-exfoliation, so that you can then cut back on this immediately.
While you may think that scrubbing your face clean every day will help to clear it of any acne, over-exfoliating can have the opposite effect. When you exfoliate the correct amount, you eliminate dead skin cells, unclog pores and clear away the bacteria in which acne thrives. However, when you exfoliate too much, you also end up scrubbing away healthy skin cells, leaving your skin’s natural barrier damaged. This then causes your skin to be extra sensitive, leading to an increase in breakouts.
Puffiness and Inflammation
By over-exfoliating and leaving your natural protective barrier compromised, your skin is much more susceptible to inflammation. Over time, this can lead to a breakdown in your skin’s protective layer, and, since it is this outer layer that helps to regulate the immune system, this can cause a number of different problems.
Pigmentation and Scarring
Pigmentation and scarring are two common side effects if you have over-exfoliated using chemical exfoliation techniques. This seems to be even more prevalent in those with a darker skin tone, making it even more important to regulate how often you exfoliate when using chemicals.
Your skin’s natural barrier provides some level of protection against the sun, and when this is not functioning as normal, your skin will be much more susceptible to sun damage. If you have over-exfoliated, it is important to use extra sunscreen and be even more vigilant limiting sun exposure, at least until your skin has healed.
One of the important functions of the skin’s barrier is to keep the skin hydrated by preventing moisture loss through evaporation. When this barrier is damaged, evaporation occurs at a much faster rate, which will soon result in dry and dehydrated skin. If the over-exfoliation continues, the dryness will be exacerbated, and it will not be long before dry areas become itchy and flaky.
How Often to Exfoliate
Everybody’s skin is different, meaning that you need to work out the optimum amount of exfoliation for your skin. If you have oily skin, you may find that you need to exfoliate every day, while those who have sensitive skin may only be able to tolerate this once a week. The only way to decipher what your skin really needs is by trial and error, which is why it is important to be able to immediately recognize the signs of over-exfoliation.
If you are experiencing some of these symptoms and believe that they are due to over-exfoliating, it is vital that you immediately stop exfoliating for a couple of weeks. Give your skin some time to heal, using products that are as gentle and mild as possible, and, once you start exfoliating again, begin gradually, working your way up to an amount that benefits your skin rather than harms it.